I was not around for the very first Winter Veil Festival. It happened shortly after game launch in 2004 so I can't say what it was like. However, I distinctly remember the 2nd one. I logged in one day and BOOM, Father Winter and all his helpers. I did the quests, I gathered the Preserved Holly (I actually still have like 40+ pieces on my bank toon) and lo, when Christmas came, I ran to the tree on each of my toons and got my presents.
I was playing Alliance in 2005, so the only toons that did it that year were them. I don't remember any of my characters getting any of the special pets, except my night elf druid, Annanda. She got the mini reindeer. I loved that thing. I always had snowballs so I could pull it out at any time.
As the years went by, I always looked forward to Winter's Veil. I love getting surprises and Father Winter always gave me something awesome on at least one of my many alts.
When I moved to the Horde full time back in 2007, I had max level toons so I did all the quests and helped my friends with the quests as well. Leaving my toons back on the Alliance side with my reindeer and my Winter's Helpers and all that, was hard. There wasn't any Faction Change service available back then and if you wanted a druid Horde side, you had to level up a whole new one. (I love the Faction Change service, even if I have never used it!)
However, something happened which soured me on the WoW Holidays. I can't remember exactly what it was but I I ended up so upset that I refused to participate in any of the planned WoW Events. My husband begged and pleaded but I was stubborn.
I managed to go a year or two without running any of the special holiday bosses, or doing any of the daily quests. But then Blizzard added Achievements and my husband went insane. People became fanatics about doing Achievements and the first day of any holiday was filled with Achievement spam. This soured me on it even more and honestly, watching my husband DO ALL THE THINGS was annoying as hell. And hearing him harp on me to do X Achievement with him made me want to put a pen through his eye.
Yes, I was the human (tauren?) version of the Greench.
However, Blizzard put something in the game that I couldn't resist. A fast flying mount that is pinkish-purple. (I do not believe it's violet like the tooltip says!) So, I sucked it up and started doing the Achievements, much to my husband's delight.
I got my proto-drake in June of 2010, during the Flamekeepers MidSummer event. I had started working on the Achievements in 2009. (I really wanted the Elder title for my druid, so I did that one the first time around. The rest I picked up the 2nd time they came around.)
This year's revamp is pretty awesome. I like the changes they've made to the Greench. (And since that's the only part I've done so far, I like it!) I know many people are annoyed at having to go all the way to Alterac Mountains/Hillsbrad Foothills to do it, and that's it's not a queue-able boss, but I love it. I love having to fly out there and work as a team with others. I've tanked it, I've healed it, I've bounced it around as dps when there was no tank. It's good times. And it doesn't make my anxiety flare to go do it. I'm in IN a 5 man group or a raid, I'm on my own. Doing my own dps or my tanking or healing whoever happens to be in the line of sight of the Greench. I have died but who cares? No one is counting or relying on me to do anything. I love it!
And somewhere in the middle of all of this, my Holiday spirit has returned. I don't know what happened but I'm enjoying the festivities, I'm doing things with people and my heart has grown 3 sizes!
So, Happy Winter's Veil RenaissanceMan! I hope Father Winter brings you all sorts of goodies and many Horde to kill! (Even if I am Horde. But I don't PVP, unless a holiday requires me to. Or my priest gets bloodthirsty!)