Over at the seanrobsville blog, where they successfully deconstructed Halloween last month, they have now deconstructed Christmas with equal success, and provided something I never thought I would see: A Christmas Carol as Dickens could have written it, were he a Buddhist --
"Marley's miserliness has resulted in him becoming a Preta (ghost) after death. His attachment in life was to money, and in the Preta realm his attachment manifests as fetters to chains of money-boxes, keys, ledgers and heavy purses.
"In order to help purify his karma, Marley sets out to warn Scrooge that the same destiny awaits him. Marley is assisted in his task by two peaceful Buddhas (Christmas Past and Christmas Present - Buddhas can manifest in any form that is beneficial to sentient beings), and one wrathful Buddha ('Ghost of the Future!' I fear you more than any spectre I have seen').
"The Buddhas take Scrooge through a sort of mini-Bardo experience, where he reviews his life from the perspective of what he has done to others, or not done for others, rather than what he has done for himself. He awakens into a state of mind transformed by compassion and generosity."
I really enjoyed that, and I really approve of the entire approach.
Since we live in America, I do not see anything wrong with incorporating culturally specific symbols into our offerings. For example: at Halloween and Thanksgiving, I like to make a traditional cornucopia, with gourds, Indian corn, and so forth, and then offer that. For Christmas, I like to offer pine wreaths. A Christmas tree is a kind of mandala, if you stop and think about it, and I don't see anything wrong with that. Similarly, it is always fun to give gifts to people, and practice material generosity.
In the West, I recognize that there are some people who became Buddhists primarily because they detest Christianity. Their Buddhism is a sort of conversion reaction to something they find absolutely distasteful; yet, in the process, they become as extreme as the brand of Christianity they despise. At Christmas, they can even break with their Christian family members, and refuse to participate in friendly celebrations.
I have seen people do this.
However, from a broader perspective, one really should try to make Christian family members or friends happy by attending events with them, even if these events have Christian themes or take place in churches, and so forth.
A midnight Mass here or there never killed anybody that I know of, and if you can't manage that, you can always task NetFlix to send Life of Brian, then pop some corn, or roast some chestnuts, and sit around feeling smug.