As it happened, publishers and booksellers were the shock troops in exploiting — and developing — a Christmas trade. And books were on the cutting edge of a commercial Christmas, making up more than half of the earliest items advertised as Christmas gifts…In fact, even before books were actually labeled as Christmas presents in the newspapers, they were being marketed for that purpose.

—Stephen Nissenbaum, The Battle for Christmas: A Social and Cultural History of Our Most Cherished Holiday

That tone of strongly-implied disapproval runs throughout the book, a tedious Marxish archeological dig below the foundations of the holiday to unearth the telltale potsherds of paternalism, classism, nativism, and, worst of all, rapacious commercialism and inauthentic consumerism. What the materialist cynics never understand is that even amid humble, degraded origins, something noble and timeless can still shine through. Here, as with the ancient Icelandic tradition of jólabókaflóð, is a reminder of the sort of old-fashioned Christmas values we would all do well to resurrect.