It's a Wonderful Atheist Christmas

I love Christmas!

I love the feel of the season, the bustle, and the cheerfulness. I love that people who normally wouldn't even look each other in the eye are now going out of their way to be nice to each other.

I love the decorations - the beautiful lights, the homemade reindeer and Santa displays. Here in California I miss the snow - I loved the White Christmases of my youth - snowmen, snow forts. I loved it when a snow day closed the school a couple of days early making for a longer Christmas / New Year vacation.

Christmas is the time of year when people can stand on your front doorstep and sing - and no one calls the cops. It's the time of year when you get together with family. (I'm so sorry I couldn't visit this year Sis - life gets in the way sometimes. I'm thinking of you!)

I love putting up a Christmas tree - decorating it with both homemade and store bought ornaments. (My favorite tree decorations are a flying saucer, the Star Ship Enterprise a la "Catspaw" style, and a Bumble from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.) The tree is topped with a huge, beautiful red bow.

And speaking of the Bumble - I love traditional Christmas television shows. When I was 5 the Bumble used the scare me so much that I'd run and hide behind the couch when he first peeked over the mountains. These days, I love to turn the TV volume down and watch these shows with friends, making remarks a la Mystery Science Theatre 3000 style.

I walk around the house singing (bystanders may call it tone-deaf murdering) Christmas music - the traditional, the jazzy, the new, and the weird. An orchestra and choir performing "O Little Town of Bethlehem" together can still put a shiver up my spine. (Don't read anything into that - "Jump" from Van Halen can still make my spine tingle too.)

Starting from Thanksgiving, I have the urge to start cooking and baking. Yes, I bake. (I enjoy making pies from scratch - especially chocolate pecan pie. Mmmmmm.) I love making soups and stews - so around Christmas the house smells like beef stew, or Jambalya, or curry, all mixed together with the smell of baking apples and cinnamon and Christmas cookies.

I love getting together with friends during Christmas. When it's cold and wet outside, nothing beats joyful conversation with good friends over eggnog and treats.

When I'm wished a "Merry Christmas" I respond with a warm and cheerful, "Oh thank you! I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too!"

If I'm feeling playful I may respond with a, "Why thank you! And a Merry Solstice to you too!" Sometimes I substitute "Wonderful New Year" or "Wonderful Holiday" for "Merry Solstice". I say it so cheerfully and with such warmth that I've never been challenged on it, and everyone smiles and thanks me. I'm able to say it with an honest warmth because I don't believe that most people are "Christmas Police" - I believe they are honestly wishing me well, and that's what I want to express to them - my hope that they are well and will continue to be well.

I used to have a very good friend who became an aggressive, in your face Christian. He once told me that an Atheist who celebrated Christmas was hypocritical. I've been told that Atheists can't even CALL the holiday Christmas because they don't believe in Christ.

Hogwash! Midwinter celebrations existed long before Christ was invented. The midwinter Solstice, the shortest day of the year was seen as significant. The Roman festival of Saturnalia was celebrated before the birth of Christ. Christmas symbols are older than the supposed birth of Christ. Gathering together with friends, over food and gifts is a tradition that precedes Christmas.

And why shouldn't I call this holiday Christmas? Just because I do call it Christmas doesn't mean I'm being hypocritical, any more than I would be in naming the days of the week.

Wait, you didn't know? Every day of the week is named after a different God.

In order, they are: Mani - Moon God, Tyr - War God, Woden - aka Odin, Thor - Thunder God, Fringe - God of Beauty (and 5 'o Clock Friday IS beautiful!), Saturn - God who ate his children, and Sunna - a Sun Goddess.

The current "War Against Christmas" rhetoric by those few on the loudly squawking right is working against the best interests of Christians. And it is definitely undermining the spirit of Christmas.

I trust that any non-believer would whole-heartedly support the true spirit of Christmas - "Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward all." A very worthy, human sentiment.

May your Christmas be merry - what ever that means to you.

1 comment:

Scientia said...

THANK you! I love Christmas too. The trappings and prettiness and glitter of the holiday season are exciting. Rudolf is cute, the dentist elf is hysterical and the Bumble is adorable (I just felt bad for him). The only things I don't like are the ad blitz and rampaging shoppers.

Well, now I have a new thing I don't like. I can't stand the Christmas Nazis- why is this more acceptable than pagans getting aggressive about- well, pick a holiday, they're pretty much all pagan.

It's only courtesy to return a greeting with warmth and friendliness, and Christmas is so much more of everything that it's hard not to get excited. At what other time does this society celebrate simple joys unabashedly?

There is no hypocrisy in celebration or in joy- though there's plenty in suggesting that your wording of that celebration is the only one possible.

Merry Christmas to you too.