Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

The War on Christmas Pt. 3

Back to me again. Because I rock.

Now that we have a better understanding of why non-theists and other non-traditional belief systems take such a big hit around the winter holidays, I’m going to try and answer the question I get more often than any other during this time of year.

“Why do you celebrate Christmas if you don’t believe in god?
I get many accusations of hypocrisy, lots of genuine curiosity and hopefully at least some interest in understanding. I don’t mind answering, but if I at least put it here, I can use it as reference from now on.

As I have mentioned before, I grew up Southern Baptist. My entire family is Christian. My mother is a converted Lutheran (yay!), my grandfather is a retired UMC pastor who now attends an SBC congregation, and my father, sister and step-mother are all Methodists. I’d have to run pretty far to find a place where people didn’t celebrate the Christian winter holidays.

Of course, there’s also the little issue of being “out” to people. Anyone who is my friend on Facebook is obviously aware that I am a non-believer. I try to limit my connections with family and youngsters on social networking anyway, simply because I’m not interested in having them completely connected to everything that I am. For other reasons irrelevant to this discussion, I am not “out” to my father’s side of my family.

There’s a bunch of other reasons to celebrate that have nothing to do with fear or insecurity, too. I love my family. This is what they do and what I did with them my entire childhood and most of my adulthood. I’ve only been a non-theist for a few years. I can just imagine the reaction if I said, “Well, yanno, I don’t want to hang out with you guys on Christmas because I don’t believe in all that.” How rude and how wrong to cut myself and my son off from the family that loves us. I have no interest in deciding for my child what he will and won’t believe, so I’ll not be keeping him away from supervised religious experiences just because I don’t personally put any stock in them.

There are quite a few holidays that are celebrated this time of year. I suppose I could get confusing (as several of my friends do) and say I’m celebrating Yule or Saturnalia or the Winter Solstice. I’m not sure why I would need to, though. I celebrate Halloween, which is also a religious holiday (All Hallows Eve) with pagan roots (Samhain) and no one ever seems to question me why I let son go trick or treating. I’ve also noticed that many of the same people irked by my superficial acknowledgement of a religious holiday are the same people that get their undies in a twist over the practice of Jehovah’s Witnesses refusal to celebrate any Christian holiday with pagan roots…including Christmas and Halloween. Lots of moaning and groaning about kids being left out and not having any fun. So which is it? Celebrate for the sake of the children or stand fast to perceived principles that most people don’t give a rip about anyway?

I celebrate because it is fun. I celebrate because it is a time set aside by culture and government for recognizing the role my family plays in my life and attempting to communicate my appreciation for that role in a way that honors them. I celebrate because it is important for others in my life who do believe. I celebrate to share my family history and traditions with my son. I celebrate, because contrary to popular belief, it is not all about me. Just because I do not worship any gods does not mean I worship myself.
I have also participated in church choir since becoming a non-believer, I have sung as the special musician at the church of my family, and I allow my son to attend church with my mother without me. If any of this makes me a hypocrite, well, then I think some people may have a misinformed idea of what the word means. If my parent requests that I sing at their church because they are proud of my talent and wish to share that with others they care about, why in the world would I say no? To be self-righteous? No. I listen to rock music by Christian artists that I am crazy about, too. Do I need to believe as they believe in order to appreciate what they do or participate in being a fan? No. If my mother wants to take my son to church occasionally because she loves him and is proud of him and wants to show off her grandson to her friends, why would I tell her no? To be self-righteous and arrogant and assume that just because I allow him extra time with her in a place of her choosing somehow is an acknowledgement of hidden belief? Not likely.

I don’t need to believe in something in order to nod to its cultural, familial and traditional importance. I don’t need to believe in Catholicism to celebrate the opportunity to drink beer in March, or dress up in October and I don’t have to believe in god to celebrate Christmas.

If you don’t like that, I’ll kindly request that you get over it.

Written by thelittlepecan

December 1, 2010 at 11:04 am

Posted in atheism, religion

Tagged with ,

5 Responses

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  1. […] The War on Christmas Pt. 3 December 2010 4 comments 3 […]

  2. […] (Plus all the other stuff I talked about in The War on christmas Pt. 3) […]

  3. I love that you wrote all this down because so much of it resonates with my own experiences. I am genuinely puzzled why some Christians get their noses out of joint about why I, a non-theist, would want to celebrate “their” holiday. Yet, they have no qualms about celebrating the secular and pagan aspects while simultaneously condemning JWs for NOT participating. At least the JWs are consistent about the issue and I respect them for that more than the “only WE can celebrate Christmas” Christians.

    Susie

    December 1, 2010 at 5:40 pm

  4. Another really basic reason for atheists to celebrate Christmas is because with the small exception of Christmas mass and Christmas plays the vast bulk of the experience is completely secular.

    Jim

    December 1, 2010 at 11:19 am

    • Jim, this is why I say when protestants concede they are guilty of the same picking and choosing and return to the True Church, they will have more room to bitch about who celebrates what, and how. Until then, they have no room to talk. In breaking from catholicism (which all but the most deluded of biblical scholars seem to agree is “Christ’s” church, started by the most closely connected to the character) they removed the “mass” part and much of the trappings. We have just removed a little more of it. They also need to understand that most of the guilty parties in commercializing Christmas in the first place were christians — not Jews, not Muslims, not pagans, not atheists…christians. What’s that thing about “throwing the first stone”….

      Marie

      December 3, 2010 at 4:06 pm


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