I did not grow up as a child with Santa, or Elves, or any knowledge of what was going on at the Northpole. In the Netherlands we have St. Nicholas who is responsible for most of our presents, and Santa was the jolly fellow on TV in some American Christmas movies we got to watch.
And that was allright. Different countries, different traditions. Sure, I did like the Santa movie when I was younger, but I never really got that link with toys and Santa, as we never did that. I was just loaded up with all the toys I wanted about 20 days earlier, so why would we expect to get more?
For us, Christmas was more traditional. On Christmas eve we went to the children’s mass at the church (where I always hoped to get a ‘merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’ kiss from that one special girl in school), and have some family time after that. When I was old enough to drink, we traditionally sipped some Port too. Contemplate, reflect, talk. Just let it sink in and enjoy company.
On first Christmas morning (we have two days here), we started with a brunch, with good food, jummy food and would either visit relatives, or do close to to nothing. In the evening we would have a special dinner, and have guests over most of the times like my grandma, or other family relatives. Once again, just enjoy the time.
Were there presents? None. And that was ok. Second Christmas day can be a traditional shopping day here. A lot of people like to just gawk at bautifully decorated shops with no intention to buy, but always come home with something. We as a family do a traditional Christmas walk. Rain, snow, cold it doesn’t matter. Just get refreshed, walk off those extra calories from all the eating we did.
Nowadays we have a mixed tradition. My wife is American so Christmas is celebrated mostly American style. Lots of presents, lots of decoration, and lots of food. Best of both worlds. On Christmas eve we watch our old movies, retire early and Santa makes a visit (which we track with the Norad Santa Tracker) and on Christmas morning we have a tree filled with presents. We can enjoy our gifts for a little while and then host a meal, or be invited and eat with our family. We still try to do the traditional Christmas walk, it is extra fun if it snows, as we get to ride the sled and throw snowballs.
Those things make Christmas. Little traditions stacked on top of eachother, and not let stress get the best of you.
Where the toys come from? Well from the Secret Santa Shop of course. Where else?