Last year I was completely beside myself when the holidays were approaching. I was anxiety filled and dreading each and every moment of the Christian celebrations.
Another year in to my atheism and the holidays were a breeze. There was not one invite to a service. Not one invitation to convert back to Christianity. Not one knock against my decision to be an atheist. There was not a single unwrapping of a Bible as a gift. Last year there were four! And as a family we are slowly beginning new traditions to keep our holiday secular.
So we did what most families do and we celebrated the season of winter by decorating our home in lights, putting up a holiday tree, adorning it with ornaments both secular and religious. We watched many of the great holiday films while munching on caramel popcorn and overplayed our Elf and Phineus and Ferb Holiday cds. We put out side by side displays of what we consider to be the two big fairy tales of the season…Santa and the Nativity. I told the boys both the story of Santa and the story of Jesus’ birth. Both sparked great conversations that prove our boys are beginning to ask important questions, chew on information and form logical conclusions. The story of Jesus’ birth inspired P to pull out his Bible and ask for more stories which he and his brothers logically picked apart. P also became fascinated with the Mormon Bible which he discovered in our hotel room and now it sits next to his national geographic and he pretends that it’s interesting to read (even though he can’t read any words containing more than 3 letters). They are slowly getting their exposure to different religious beliefs, religious stories, and the pros/cons of choosing religion or none.
This season we sent out New Year’s cards instead of Christmas cards. We adorned our tree in Star Wars, Mickey Mouse, and a few angels/crosses. We ate lots of junk. Played in snow. Went to Disneyland. Learned to share our money with those less fortunate and mostly spent time enjoying our family and friends. The boys all know that Santa is fictional (a choice we made to tell them last year so that they would know we make an attempt to be honest with them about everything) so this year each boy played the role of elf to one of his brothers. The elves came out one at a time on Christmas Eve to sit in front of our fireplace with “Mr. and Mrs. Claus”. They shared our cookies, had a cup of milk and then put the Santa gifts in their brother’s stocking. It seems to be the beautiful start of a long tradition.
The only sadness this year was seeing a lot less delivery of Christmas cards to our home. It seems that people may be uncertain as to whether they should send cards to a nonreligious family. For me the cards are more about seeing families grow and hearing the stories they choose to share from their year. I love receiving them. We still received a handful of them…some secular, some religious, and some religious with the verses and references to christianity boldly marked out with a sharpie 🙂
So these holidays I am thankful. I am thankful that we are progressing and becoming more comfortable in our own beliefs and traditions. I am thankful that our lives are still full of what counts most…LOVE.