To get the whole Christmas experience Cohen tries to do it all. He buys the gifts, fights crowds at the mall, goes to see the Nutcracker, attends midnight service on Christmas eve, and also experiences the inevitable post-Christmas letdown.
He is baffled by websites that offer Christmas advice such as "offer to babysit for a friend" without providing information about the real spiritual aspect of the holiday. As a person who has always celebrated a more secular version of the holiday, the offer to babysit makes perfect sense to me. Any suggestion to do something rather than buy something is what I look for at Christmas. I like visiting people at the holidays, and going to parties, but I don't miss the spending at all. Several years ago I exempted myself from buying gifts for anyone besides children (my own, and nieces and nephews) at Christmas, and likewise let those who normally bought me gifts know that they needn't bother. My goal was not to focus on the more religious aspect of the holiday, but rather to take away stress, and bring back "peace, joy and goodwill to all" - things I think Jesus the man stood for. With the money we don't spend of gifts we make donations to charity, and we try to see a Christmas show every year. I have seen the Nutcracker several times, and don't get tired of it, and last year took a day trip to New York City to see the Rockettes Christmas show, which was quite fabulous. However, the most moving Christmas performance I have seen was Black Nativity - the story of the nativity done through gospel music. I have seen it twice in Boston and it is more like a worship service than a performance - although it is quite professionally done.
Skipping the malls and having no presents under my tree to open on Christmas morning does make my Christmas different than the ones I remember from my childhood, which were indeed magical, but I enjoy and savor the holiday season much better this way.