This 2004 post by the editors of the Vancouver Sun says it so well, I'd like to borrow it literally:
...The 2,000-year-old Christmas story...offers profound lessons in what is important in the proper conduct of one's affairs. Its messages have immediate applications in contemporary life whether one is Christian or Muslim, Jew or Buddhist or atheist.
It is the story of the greatness of little people--a carpenter and an unwed mother--and their ability to change the course of the world despite the oppressions of tyrants and the arrogant plans of mighty powers. A reminder of the importance of striving for humility and not being too quick to judge others on the basis or their apparent condition.
It's the story of the homeless and of the refugee--for Joseph and Mary have more in common with those who visit shelters for the homeless or afflicted and those who flee political persecution than they do with we who are so comfortable. A reminder to look with mercy and compassion upon those who come seeking refuge.
It's the story of the importance of resisting orthodoxy and holding true to one's beliefs--as did the wise men who persisted in following their own star and witnessed the birth of a new world. A reminder that the most important path is the one we set for ourselves by our own moral compass, not the path dictated by the established view or urged by popular fashion.
It's the story of the frailty and folly of certainties in military might--as Herod discovered when he sought to save himself by slaughtering the innocents and instead was defeated by the Prince of Peace and a spiritual force that came to outlast his dynasty. A reminder that those who seem humblest among us are as worthy of our respect and compassion as are kings and emperors.
It's the story of the importance of wonder and of its acceptance--as the shepherds acknowledged when they gathered in the fields to listen to the singing of angels, not yet grasping that God was giving them his only son to redeem their sins. A reminder that it's never a good idea to be too quick to dismiss what at first we can't comprehend.
Finally, when we rise on Christmas Day to open our presents, whatever our own faith might or might not be, we should pause for a moment in our merriment to think of the other central message in the Christmas story, which is not the presents themselves, but what they represent--which is someone else's expression of love, generosity and selflessness on our behalf.
Our true wealth, the Christmas story tells all of us, resides not in presents, but in people. Not in what we receive but in what we give. And our most precious gift should be love and compassion for those among us who are poor and persecuted, homeless and harried.
These universal truths are inherent in the Christmas story and are meant for everyone, which is why the celebration has secular effects beyond its spiritual core.
Indeed, I could not have said it better... So, with those thoughts to ponder, I wish you a joyous Christmas!