How do atheists do Christmas?

24 Dec

Axial Tilt - The Reason for the SeasonThe short answer, in my household at least, is pretty much the same as the rest of my family–just without God. The long answer is somewhat more complicated, and it continues to become more so as my daughter grows up, asks more questions, and tries to figure out what she believes.

I was raised Catholic, but like many US American Catholics my family was never particularly religious aside from going to mass most Sundays and making sure that my sister and I had first communion and were confirmed at the appropriate ages. Holidays with my family were and are primarily secular affairs, days for eating too much pie and spending more-or-less quality time together.

The good thing about this is that my and my partner’s atheism doesn’t really affect that dynamic. The bad part is that we still have to figure out how to how to come up with our own traditions that reflect our philosophy and how best to discuss the religious aspects of the holiday with my daughter in a way that is honest about what we think while still leaving her room to decide what she thinks.

Realistically, however, my biggest concerns as a parent who participates in Christmas are probably the same as those of most parents who celebrate Christmas. I want my daughter to enjoy the holidays as a time to spend with family. I want her to learn to value giving more than receiving and to accept gifts with grace. I want to avoid the crass consumerism that surrounds this holiday and teach by example that the best gifts are those that are thoughtful and meaningful.

That being said, here’s a round-up of some of the best posts I’ve seen this year on the holidays:

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2 Responses to “How do atheists do Christmas?”

  1. oambitiousone 12/25/2011 at 6:19 AM #

    I adore *A Christmas Carol*, so this year I read the *The Man Who Invented Christmas*, about Dickens’ writing of that short story. When the author gave an overview of what the holiday had been–up to that point–it revealed how little fuss was made about this day. (This is all preaching to the choir, based on the list of resources you have provided).

    However, in that literary context, it seeped into me how modern this two month-affair really is and how my downplaying it is historically justified. I’m not being anti-social or anti-anything. No one is considered un-American if she doesn’t wave flags on Memorial Day or march on Labor Day. It’s personal. So too is a Solstice observance…or lack thereof. Thank you for the articles. I’m plunging into them right now…

  2. nursenan 12/27/2011 at 11:20 AM #

    Hi Bridget…You were Spot-On about Dale McGowan’s “Beyond Belief” article…The Dry Run. Thanks for sharing! I have been focusing for so many years, and every year at Christmas, about how we should do away with Santa Myth, or at least tell kids from the beginning it is ‘pretend fun’. This at least offers something good as a result. Although, I still believe there is far too much angst involved. And possibilities for angst, betrayal issues etc etc etc.

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