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A Secular Holiday Season

December 20, 2011

I’ve been having some weird feelings about celebrating Christmas ever since Alexa was born.  First there’s the religious side that I do not relate to, then there’s all the SANTA mania….and I’m not sure how to deal with that and my kid(s). Why am I celebrating a holiday that I’m somewhat uncomfortable with? To be honest, I searched for some other suitable replacement that didn’t have religious connotations.  Festivus and its “pole” wasn’t so appealing.

There are so many people up in arms over “keeping Christ in Christmas”, there’s even those that seriously get offended when you call it Xmas.  Then there are those that have hissy fits if you wish them the wrong holiday (btw, wish me which ever one you like, it’s all about spreading good feelings, not about excluding some subsect of the population).  If your holiday card speaks to your belief system, that’s A-ok….just know that mine will most likely poke fun at all of them ;D

As for Santa, I don’t remember his magic being a part of my childhood.  I was given the bad news about his non-existence very early on.  I don’t remember truly believing before that, and my parents weren’t ones to pump the jolly guy up.  I think “he” was just a symbol of the holiday, no more real than Rudolf.  I’m not sure how to play the game for my own daughters, and I’m not sure how I feel about either side of the coin.  The “lying” about this mythical figure or the “truth” that may rob them of some part of childhood I missed out on?  OH SO MANY THOUGHTS!

I’m not a Grinch I swear, I’m just torn.  I ADORE holiday decorations and festivities.  I like to play along with the fun cartoonishness version of Christmas.  I really do enjoy buying and making gifts for my loved ones.  I love the togetherness of the season and the warmth the holidays bring to, an otherwise bleak, winter.  I’d keep my tree up until Spring if it were socially acceptable.  Seeing twinkling lights strung on neighbors houses makes me happy.  Still, I’m torn.

HO HO HO - Santacon 2006

Traditional we are not (you’ve all seen our amazing Monster Stockings from years past).  Peter and I were never ones to do the “normal” version of anything since meeting.  I mean…HELLO…look at the name of this blog!!  When we started celebrating holidays together we opted to do some pretty random, but awesomely fun, stuff.  Our first Christmas season living together we participated in Santacon in NYC, and our second we did Running of the Santas in Philly.

I think what it comes down to is….it’s just easier to celebrate the holiday of the majority.  I mean, I was raised in that community and still belong to it.  There’s always the Winter Solstice or the Human Light celebrations to attend…but our dearest friends and family celebrate Christmas.  That’s when we gather together to give and receive love and cheer.

My guess is that as we mature we’ll find our groove when it comes to explaining these questions to our kids…and we’ll figure out what works best for our family.  Our version of the holiday season doesn’t HAVE to be centered around one specific holiday.  Hell we could celebrate them all just so the girls learn about everyone living and rejoicing around them.

Other blog posts touching on the topic:

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 20, 2011 5:11 pm

    I have LOTS of thoughts on this. I mean, I’m a (radical, feminist) Catholic married to an atheist. But I think what it comes down to is you (and your family) can celebrate any holiday any way you want to! Or not at all!

    I’m making gluten-free, vegan latkes for Hanukkah tonight. No one in my family is even the tiniest bit Jewish—which is probably a good thing, because these aren’t even the tiniest bit traditional.

    • December 20, 2011 5:44 pm

      Yeah, I guess Peter and I have the same kinda deal going on. He was raised Catholic (though honestly I don’t know what he believes) and I’m nothing. We still like to celebrate because it’s FUN. I mean, isn’t that what holidays are supposed to be? A time to get together with friends and family to enjoy each other? No matter what the name or the religious tendency?

  2. December 20, 2011 10:23 pm

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this. I’m doing so much preparation and so much careful line towing in order to celebrate a holiday that isn’t even ‘ours.’ We’re muslim. But my parents and extended family celebrate Christmas. So we buy purple, yellow and blue wrapping paper and we make boots instead of stockings, say ‘happy holidays!’ and we pretend that Santa isn’t a thing most kids get to have in their lives. And we give gifts because we love my family and love to be together. The cookies don’t suck either. But one day, we’ll have to really explain what it is we value and why, and I worry that my kids will get sucked into the Santa/consumerism/craziness before they can grasp that we attend and participate in Christmas for the love of family, togetherness and time together.

    • December 20, 2011 10:42 pm

      I’m assuming you grew up celebrating then? Does your husband enjoy it. It’s funny, I used to work for a Jewish man that was in LOVE with Christmas and would play the satellite radio station for Christmas carols for months. Sometimes people from other faiths really enjoy the secular side (sometimes involving the Santa fascination) of this one particular holiday.

      I’m curious, do Muslims celebrate any winter (December specifically) holidays? I just assumed all the world’s major religions did since, historically, they tended to try to blend in with past belief systems to win over converts and whatnot. Since Peter’s family isn’t Buddhist I’ve never looked their holiday schedule up.

      I’m guessing that even if I decided to stop celebrating Xmas (I won’t because I do enjoy our version of it) we’d still celebrate the holiday with family. I mean….we celebrate Lunar New Year (well the Vietnamese version, Tet) even though I’m obviously not Viet and many of the traditions are Buddhist (his family is Catholic), though it’s more of a national holiday these days.

      Mixing and matching cultures and faiths and belief systems is hard work mama! Though, I do tend to over-think things ;P

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