First of all, yes: we do celebrate Christmas. From a religious angle, it's practically a secular holiday (and from what I'm told, it has been for a long, long time); so there's no problem there. From a practical standpoint, it's a simple matter of fitting in. Not celebrating Christmas is still considered unusual, if not actually wrong, so even if we didn't celebrate it, we'd still have to pretend.
But we do celebrate it. At least, we celebrate it in about the same way as the general population does here in Texas: put up the seasonal decorations, throw in a few pious platitudes, then move on to the presents. And if you're wondering, that does mean that some of us celebrate Chanukah, or other things. Hell, Mbata actually celebrates Kwanzaa. It's basically a question of your cultural background, and none of it has much to do with our true worship.
(The one place where it really does make a difference is in our childhood education. I've mentioned before that we're generally raised in isolated locations: rural farmhouses; "survivalist" - ha! - compounds; little-known orphanages - some real, some fake; and the like. It's about the only way to teach us about the Ancients and their ways while still preserving our secrecy. So you can probably imagine our confusion when our teachers started telling us about the birth of Jesus Christ - which they did, because we had to be able to fit in once we leave the compound. There's a story or two there, but I'll have to come back to that later.)
So... Christmas. While the rest of the country was snowed in, we wandered around in jeans and T-shirts, because Texas weather is like that except when it isn't. Work was crazy right up until the last minute, and actually a little after that - we wound up staying open a bit later than the schedule dictated. There was a steady stream of customers, and several odd little problems that we had to resolve before the holiday weekend.
As of Chistmas Eve, I am officially Moved In With Claire. Her parents either didn't mind, or politely ignored the matter - it helped that they'd gotten a hotel room. My parents claimed prior commitments and stayed away, though mainly they were just worried that too many of us together (at a family holiday, with outsiders present) might give something away. We'll be doing a combination Christmas / New Year with them this weekend.
All in all, the holiday went well. We kept it down to a few presents, but they were nice ones: Claire got me a Kindle, for example, and I got her a new laptop. Her parents bought her a set of new tires for her car, which I thought was extremely generous (and really, really helpful). Claire's dad turns out to be the cook in their family, and despite the closet-sized kitchen in our apartment he put together an amazing Christmas dinner. So we all ate too much, and then went for a walk afterwards - because, hey, nice weather.
Spending the better part of a week together hasn't changed my impression of them at all. I like them. They're smart, funny, and a little eccentric; I felt right at home with them. When I took them to the airport yesterday, I was actually sorry to see them go.
This has been a really good week in other ways, too: no strange dreams; no new deaths; no murderous assignments from the Elders; no inexplicable weirdness. It doesn't seem likely that all that will be left behind with the coming of a new year, but it sure would be nice if it worked out that way.
Obligatory Disclaimer for F.B.I. and N.S.A. agents who might or might not be reading this: the Reflections of a Deranged Cultist is a work of fiction, and is in no way intended to bring about the end of the world.