Most of my views about this time of year have been ably written by Peter Cresswell here, here, here and here, and for me it is a day to smile, to spend with people whose company I like (particularly for those of us with family far away or without family) and to enjoy life. That means food, drink, music, conversation and all kinds of fun. In the Northern Hemisphere it is particularly enjoyable given the snow, the cold and how well hot food, mulled wine and all of the other traditional foods go together with this season - as it is, essentially, a celebration of the winter solstice, shared with Christians who use it to celebrate the birth of the man for whom their religion is central.
It is a time for joy to be shared with children in particular and despite the groans and moans of naysayers, a time to give and receive gifts (and for many to enjoy the pleasures of shopping and earning a living from those who do).
Some will remind us all that there are billions for whom this is another day of work or struggle, under conditions of conflict, crime and poverty. I was reminded when in a shop the nauseating song of Do They Know It's Christmas (2004 version) was blaring over the speakers. Yet it is not a time to feel guilty for your existence, for your relative prosperity. It is not your fault that many are worse off than you, just as it is not the fault of those better off that you don't have their wealth. Nor it is your obligation to make life better for others. The comments today from the Archbishop of Canterbury that effectively criticise the British government's cuts in public spending are just peddling guilt trips as he is critical the "rich" are not bearing their "fair share" of public spending cuts. This utter nonsense ignores that those on higher incomes pay by far the greatest share of tax and don't take their "fair share" of public spending either. Christmas should not be a time to be hectored by the socialist leader of a church entirely based on the proclamation of a hereditary monarch about "privilege".
Still beyond that, those who choose, celebrate how they can. For many it is just another day, some are celebrating a birth, others including probably the family of Joanna Yeates will forever associate it with the loss of a loved one.
For you, I wish you a Merry Christmas, superlative Saturnalia, Happy Hannukah, or simply a day of joy.