Christmas a Religious Holiday Not a Shopping One

A number of years ago my family spent the holidays in Italy.  On Christmas Eve, we drove from Florence, Italy, to Siena, about 30 minutes drive.  Although every Italian city and village has a city plaza, or piazza, Siena's is fan shaped, and slopes downward to the base of the fan where a beautiful Church its.  There are no cars allowed in the piazza.There were very few people that night in what is usually a very crowded piazza, only the four in our group, and a few lonely looking Japanese tourists.  People were drifting into the church, but the usual crowds in the piazza were most likely home with their families.  But what to us was captivating about Christmas Eve there was the total calm and peacefulness of the scene, as though a prelude to the birth of Jesus that we have read about so many times.  There was beautiful, no, heavenly choral music -appropriate for the time and setting--coming from the church loudspeakers that transformed all four of us from a mood of curiosity to one of solitary meditation. I looked over to my husband who was wiping tears form his eyes.  He walked away few steps to be by himself. I did the same. There seemed to be nothing else that we could do, except to reflect on the meaning of the moment.  It was something that ever since, none of us have ever forgotten, especially at Christmas time.We also noted that people in Europe buy presents for their children, usually something they need, but there is no pressure by the media-both commercial and non-commercial-to spend everything you have by purchasing everything you do not need.I wish everyone a very peaceful Christmas.