Happy Holidays to all my godless brothers and sisters. The next time someone chides you for not being Christian and celebrating Christmas “just because,” or tells you “Since you are not Christian, why are you celebrating Christmas? You can just skip it,” let that person know what the season is really all about. Or you can just explain to what the holidays mean to you.
People who don’t believe Christian dogma aren’t celebrating Christmas “just because.” We celebrate because we want to be included in our family traditions. We celebrate because we love to see our loved ones’ faces light up when they open up that mystery package. We celebrate because every day of our brief existence is worth celebrating. We are not pretending to be something we are not or usurping a ‘taken’ holiday “just because.” Atheists just want to celebrate life without all the nonsense.
And if we wish someone a Merry Christmas, it doesn’t mean we believe Jesus even existed. It just means we want that person to enjoy the holiday. Christmas means whatever we want it to mean.
Every year I go through the same set of boring, old thoughts, “Should I try to talk my husband into putting up a tree this year? Why do I celebrate Xmas? I don’t believe the Christmas story. People get all weird about it too, when you say “Happy Holidays.” [insert eye roll] Why even bother? Though, it is fun to exchange gifts. And I like ham. Mmmm, ham.”
Besides the fundamental absurdity of Christmas, the holidays are a special time for most people. For me, getting together with family is an irresistible draw. I love my family (even the in-laws). Babies. Martinis. Puppies. Beer. Kittens. Wine. Children (even the bratty ones). More beer. Though I prefer Thanksgiving because of it’s general religiouslessness and edible focal point, my Xmas holiday is generally accompanied by copious paid time off and expiring vacation days – the better to stare at my freaky family with.
That being said, holidays are for relaxing. I never go to church services on Christmas, or any other holiday. (The last time I was at a church service, someone had died. It was unavoidable.) Church on the holidays is antithetical to the holiday philosophy. I do not appreciate being annoyed. Therefore, I avoid things that annoy me. But Christmas annoys me. So why do I bother?
There are innate pros and cons to celebrating Xmas. Pro: presents! Con: people wishing you “Merry Christmas” Pro: ham. Con: religious songs. Pro: Santa. Con: fairy tales posed as reality. (insert irony here) Pro: FAMILY. Con: tremendous amounts of dirty dishes.
And if you don’t celebrate Xmas? Pro: not being annoyed. Con: constantly being annoyed with questions about why you won’t celebrate Christmas. So, you see, there is a net gain to embracing the holiday spirit! Mmmm, ham.
The only remaining question is, “To wreath, or not to wreath?”