Mark Alexander over at The Federalist offers this column on the true meaning of Christmas. He even weighs in on the current attempts to eliminate Christmas from the public square:
Those who seek to banish Christmas have the mistaken notion that the foundations can be razed from our nation, with the edifice of laws intact. In truth, without Christmas, there would be no meaning to any individual's life -- nor would there be any meaning to the life of our nation. For the worth of individual lives, proved by Christmas, is the only secure foundation of our country.
But if you'd forsake the fight as too pitched, if you'd discount these days as inordinately overwhelming, consider how turbulent the times were to all those at that first Christmas. Mary was pregnant, near delivery, apart from her closest family members and friends, and traveling to a strange town with a man not the earthly father of her Child. Joseph was soon to become father to the Father of all. Zechariah was struck dumb by his angelic visitor. And the shepherds were so frightened by the angels that they had to be calmed, "Fear not."
For those events were indeed fearsome. The One Who had lived forever, Creator of all things made, entered His creation, and the Maker of the dimensions stepped into time and space on a personal rescue mission to redeem all human life. The Eternal came to die on our behalf and in our stead, to redeem the debt of our sinfulness by paying the bond Himself.
And that singular act of selflessness evokes a Christmas cultural tradition embraced by nearly all -- the giving of gifts. But it is in the nature of a gift to be freely given, and freely received. True gifts are not coerced -- of either giver or recipient. What harm is there in a proffered present that may be freely rejected? This is the question we pose to the foes of Christmas. The only promise that matters is one that's hard to keep. The only commitment that matters is one that's freely given. The Christ Child was the first, best Gift ever -- given so that we might freely accept the offering, thereby gaining the gifts of life, of liberty ... and as we are reminded at this season, of eternal life.
As the saying goes, read the whole thing.