Pecan Pie

Social Anxiety from the South

Posts Tagged ‘Christmas

Merry Christmas

I love Criminal Minds.

And no, that doesn’t have anything to do with anything.

Anyway.

Yesterday, The Boyfriend and I loaded up his boys and trekked out to my folks’ house for the annual Christmas get together.  This was the first year I brought Jim and the kids.  I changed my clothes five different times.

My Dad and Step-mother are awesome people.  They are self-made, upper middle class, and the picture of the American dream in every way you can think of.  They have a beautiful home, my dad is a self-employed engineer (without a college education, I might add) and my step-mother is super successful in the field of high risk insurance (high risk=million dollar policies), a field dominated by men, all while they have raised this amazing child, well, young woman, who is my baby sister.

They are the couple I have always revered as the best example of marriage.

 

They have paid for my mistakes over and over.  Provided me tuition, rent, a house, bills, cars.

For Christmas, my dad bought me a new set of tires.  Then they told me that they are going to give me a year’s lease in a townhouse they own while I complete my graduate degree.

I am not anything like them.

I am unconcerned most of the time about money, as far as having a lot of it goes.  I’m terrible with a checking account; I have no interest in working a job that simply pays the bills (much to their continued dismay.)

I feel wholly inadequate around them while simultaneously feeling nothing but grateful because they have always done so much for me.

I changed my clothes five times.

On the way, we needed to stop at Wal-greens so I could get some cough drops for this horrendous laryngitis.  I walked quickly to the back of the store towards the ladies’ room when a tall, African-American young woman stopped me and said, “I am just loving it, the whole outfit.”

I wasn’t quite as nervous as I usually am.  I tried really hard not to ride the kids about their behavior.

I wish I could tell that woman how important it was to hear that from a stranger.

 

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, whichever one you’re celebrating. We’re gonna have Christmas, if that’s okay with y’all.

 

Written by thelittlepecan

December 25, 2010 at 12:09 am

Wish

Wow, it’s cold out there.   I was shaking and stumbling around in the dark, straining my neck to look up while simultaneously attempting not to break my ankle.  My hands were shaking inside my front pouch.   I put my hood up and tied my hair around front.  It’s just too damned cold out there.

It takes forever for my eyes to adjust to the night sky.  My grandparents have every light on in Bob’s creation upstairs so I’m straining and I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to be looking at.  Out of the corner of my eye I see this flicker, sort of looks like someone lit the tiniest match in the Universe and it burned out right away.

I think that’s what I was looking for.  I saw one and then two.  Then I got too cold and came back in.  Then back out.  I felt like if I didn’t go out, I’d be missing something special and so, yeah, back out.

They really just fall straight down, you know?

I’ll never, ever be as eloquent as Carl Sagan, but looking at these itty streaks of flame on a back drop of fire and ice and violence and beauty and everything we don’t know in the form of the smallest sliver of light pricking that big black canvas from so very far away…it really does make you feel small.

“I was given something wonderful, something that changed me forever… A vision… of the universe, that tells us, undeniably, how tiny, and insignificant and how… rare, and precious we all are! A vision that tells us that we belong to something that is greater than ourselves, that we are *not*, that none of us are alone! I wish… I… could share that… I wish, that everyone, if only for one… moment, could feel… that awe, and humility, and hope. But… That continues to be my wish.” Contact

I hope…

Written by thelittlepecan

December 14, 2010 at 1:57 am

Posted in Universe

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What’s a Good Atheist to do During December?

Well, hopefully spread good cheer.  Right?

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

One way we can spread good cheer is to just spread the good.  I’m broke, a new grad student who’s had almost no luck finding a job, but I could at least spare $5.  Donate a small amount, or whatever non-perishables in your pantry that you know you won’t eat to a food bank, clothing to Goodwill or a few hours to a soup kitchen.  Even better, do all of them! This year, at the request of one of my Religious Roundtable friends, I donated to a charity that helps find homes for disabled orphans in other countries such as Serbia.

Another way to spread the good holiday cheer is to get involved in holiday events in your community, like these good folks from the Brazos Valley Vuvuzela Atheist Marching Band did by participating in the Bryan/College Station Christmas Parade.

[The idea that a vuvuzela is an instrument that’s players can  be organized into a “band” is another topic altogether that makes me cringe mightily.  We’ll let that go for now.  (It’s not nearly as annoying as it sounds…or loud.)]

Apparently, and certainly not surprisingly, the efforts of the Marching Band were not seen as cheerful or particularly welcome as you can see by a local mother’s reaction in this news cast.

As you can see in both videos (or by reading the write-up in the Examiner) the band played several traditional Christmas songs, wished people Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Happy Kwanzaa, so as to be inclusive of as many people as possible in their greetings.  This was met with “disgust” that local children might be exposed to a different world view.

We are, as they say, damned if we do and damned if we don’t.

I’m starting to realize that there is no “high road.”  We are to be silent.  We are to especially be silent during the Advent, Lenten and any particularly patriotic seasons, lest we tarnish them with our presence.

So, what is a good atheist to do during December?

Shut up and hide.

 

Written by thelittlepecan

December 8, 2010 at 4:30 pm

Posted in atheism, religion

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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 ,

The War on Christmas Pt. 2

So, yesterday I talked about why people push back against differences of opinion, especially on religion.  This comes out expectedly during the holiday season.  When minority opinions challenge the perceived best interests of the majority a threat to hegemony is revealed, causing friction.

Today, I want to talk about the dichotomy of “keeping Christ in Christmas” versus the capitalistic orgy that is the holiday shopping season.   I recently wrote a paper, “The Business of Being Christian,” (shameless plug!) about the transition of capitalist consumerism and affluence as an example of Godly blessings to religion being a capitalist commodity all its own.   This, l have realized, is painfully obvious during the Christmas season and is more than a little difficult for many believers to accept or reconcile.

Christmas is arguably the most (or second most, depending on who you ask about Easter) important holiday in the Christian religion.  It is definitely the most important season during the American fiscal year.  There’s no other time when businesses can almost guarantee a jump into the black no matter how poor the previous 8-10 months have been.

Now, I don’t doubt for one second that many believers actually do abhor the rampant consumerism exhibited during November and December.  But, for many this seems to be a hidden conflict that is projected onto those who wish to take Christ out of Christmas or those who fail to acknowledge the “reason for the season” just by their preference to celebrate a purely secular version of the holiday season.

The reason for the season has been for many, many years rampant consumption to the nth degree.   As religion becomes a bigger commodity (The Creation Museum, the Holy Land Experience, and Prosperity Gospel are all fine examples of this) it becomes very difficult to separate the secular  (or Profane, thank you, Weber!) from the sacred.  So, if the blame for this fuzzy line between the two can be placed on those who do not wish to celebrate anything sacred, then those who truly move the transition along are exempt from responsibility.

The war on Christmas is not being fought by non-theists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews or Muslims but is a product of the ever increasing commodification of Christianity by Christians themselves.

Written by thelittlepecan

November 30, 2010 at 11:46 am

Posted in atheism, religion

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