That Time of Year

Twitter is super interesting today. I had to switch my phone off to meet my deadlines.

So instead of the bitching post — not the bitchin’ post, mind you, I don’t have one of those right now — I was going to write about how, invariably these last couple of years, the two weeks before Christmas visits disasters* on Dan and me, usually with stressful financial consequences, you get something else today.

First, a repost from 2009 regarding religious and secular Christmas. Read the comments, and the following post too (linked below), because I think it’s a really good, civil conversation. Similar to the conversation on Twitter, it seems that many people who have secular Christmases do so because they do love the traditions, the togetherness of family, and ideas of peace and goodwill. So, my question has largely been answered, but if you’d like to see what I was thinking a few years back, or would like to weigh in, see more below.

Second, a strong post from a friend regarding “girl toys”. The upshot of which is that any toy can be limiting. Why not just let our kids play with what they want to?

Stay warm out there!

Do They Know Why It’s Christmas
Repost from RPM, 2009

I risk ruffling some feathers with this post, and I risk offending people whom I really like. But it is… not bothering me exactly. It’s truly something — like my Santa issues — that I wonder about every year right around this time. And that’s the spirit in which I am posting. To hear others’ points of views, not to offend.

I am genuinely curious about something: if you are agnostic or atheist, why do you bother with Christmas at all?

I don’t mean to denigrate a person’s decision to practice goodwill towards fellow men and women, or celebrate some winter downtime by hanging out with family and/or giving gifts. It’s just that I read over and over again about the stress of baking and shopping and decorating and spending time with family, and how so many people dislike the holidays, yadda, yadda, yadda, and then some are like “I don’t even believe in God.”

Well then why all the stress?

The thing that keeps me very centered this time of year is my faith. (Obviously, it keeps me centered most of the year, but I lean on it particularly around now. Focus and all.) Christmas is very much about the birth of Jesus Christ, who I believe is the son of God. Christmas is a celebration of the fact that God “so loved the world He gave his only Son”.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the trappings of the season (to an extent): the lights, the food, family, presents. I love driving down the road with my children yelling, “Lights!” from the back seat over and over again. I also completely let myself off the hook this time of year: I do not bake just because I’m supposed to (I don’t bake the rest of the year either; it’s definitely a mom-type short coming). We do not put lights up outside (oh, how I would love to… but I just can’t take it on). Although I love to host, I cannot this year because of my work schedule. I (try to) keep spending and present-buying in check. I do not send Christmas cards. I work firmly within my limits.

But it seems to me agnostics and atheists have the perfect excuse to step away from the madness. A simple, “I don’t believe in God” or “I don’t believe Jesus was the son of God” should suffice. They don’t need to be mean about it, and they shouldn’t be treated rudely for their beliefs (I have complicated feelings about proselytizing, but we can all be civil at least, right?).

I read somewhere about how a mother told her children that Jesus was a very wise man, and that he is why Christmas is a holiday, which is all well and good, but isn’t really the whole story. The reason behind the season is not that I believe Jesus was pretty smart — I believe Jesus is the Son of God. I celebrate his birth in a unique way. After all, Martin Luther King Jr. was a wise man; the presidents were wise men (arguably); there are even some pretty wise women out there who should be feted. But we’re not giving gifts and putting up trees for their birthdays. There’s no Advent before Lincoln’s birthday, you know?

Again, I don’t mean to be insensitive or non-PC. I am sincerely curious about this. Baffled. I am not angry or pissed off; I don’t believe there is a true “war on Christmas” like Christian fundamentalists do. Has the “cultural norm” somehow overridden the religiousity? Is it “doing it for the kids”? Shouldn’t we celebrate differences? Or is that just easy for me to say?

Read the comments here, and my follow-up post here if you’d like.

*Usually of a flooding basement kind of thing. This year, his office in Crafton has some, uh, plumbing difficulties. Sigh.

One thought on “That Time of Year

  1. Oh okayyyyy. Reasons from your athiest friend:
    -Because I was raised to celebrate it without the religious tone. Your holiday is religious because you and your parents made it so. My parents did not.
    -Because I like seeing my Christian relatives.
    -Because it’s NOT all religious, most of it is simply “custom” or in reality just good advertising.
    -Because my supposedly secular government and employer feels the need to make it a national holiday. “Sorry, don’t believe, I’ll work instead”.
    -Because damnit I want to? I like Christmas. The lights are pretty, and I love sugar cookies 🙂

    Most importantly? Because I have kids. And I refuse to allow them to miss out on the fun of it all because of my beliefs. The same can be said for Easter. They are far too young (5) to understand yet why you believe and their parents do not.

    This article from a few years back is a great one, quote “…celebrations are a natural part of human culture, and Christians simply appropriated local celebrations to suit their own peculiar beliefs. Christmas is only ‘Christian’ because ancient winter pagan celebrations were incorporated by the Church.”

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