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Krista, I too feel the ritual is essential for linking children to the past and family. My children are still young (I have 3-6 year olds and a 5 year old) We go in to a "purchasing freeze" after school shopping in the fall and all desires are directed to this current holiday. It is not easy and there have been some conflicts (we can afford to give them what they want) We distinguish almost everyday between what they WANT and what they NEED (which turns out to be very little.) We are Catholic (just recently, the more observant type for their education) and we celebrate St. Nicholas Day where the gift giving is framed around a "real" person. My husband could not bring himself to "lie" to our children or confuse them with two amazing stories, so they have always known Santa was a fable (yet they discuss his arrival and approach down our chimney on a regular basis). When they found out St. Nicholas actually lived, they were thrilled and we placed candy in our shoes to remember the generous gentleman who surprised children with his generosity. We also refer to Christmas as "Jesus' Birthday" and discuss the story that surrounds the lead up to the 25th. They are a little young to completely replace the traditions yet I miss serving lunch at our homeless shelter (which I did with my husband for the years before we had children.) Do you have any recommendations for activities for children as they are limited due to their age and I like you cannot tolerate the "non-spiritual" odyssey that 25 December has become in the US. Thank you for your thoughts regarding meditations regarding Anger and Brother Thay.