2014

My Season of Sad

Christmas makes me sad. At first it probably made me happy, then it made me very angry. Now it makes me sad. And so very full of guilt.

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I get it. It’s Christmas. Cool.
I wish there was a way around it, a way I could press eject and get off the ride, but I haven’t found it, if it exists at all.

Being an atheist, the Christian meaning to the holiday season isn’t one I recognise.
Even worse, I refuse to buy into the Santa myth. And I have a child!

*cue gasps of horror and cries of ‘Think of the Children!*

So let’s get down to the nuggets of it. Not everyone ‘does’ Christmas. Some of us do it to keep everyone else happy. Some of us can’t afford it. Some of us just don’t care. Some of us do it under duress.

That’s me. I do it because I’m expected to. I do it because my society and my culture expect it of me. I DO NOT do it because I want to. I do absolutely love gathering on long hot summer days with my family and friends and enjoying the warm hours. I really, really love that. It’s the rest of it that pains me.

Some of us have different beliefs that don’t have anything to do with Christianity or Santa. I know – we dare to walk among you. And don’t even start me on the vitriol we cop if we dare voice our displeasure. This time of year always leaves me with a bitter taste, a violently ill bank account and the distinct impression that I better smile and enjoy my self. Don’t you know what happens to people who don’t enjoy Christmas?

For a fair number of families I know, this supposedly ‘happy’ time of year will be awful. For some, it’s the first time without a beloved family member. For others it’s another year since they lost them. From some arbitrary date in November (thank goodness for Halloween or we’d have it start in October) we’re force fed this post card perfect idea of family gatherings and feasting with the ‘must have’ gifts of the year. If you can’t make that picture work for you or your version of a family, well shit.
I’ve said tearful goodbyes to too many great people this year. Too much evil has cut through the fabric of our global human family for me to wander in mindless happiness as though all is good with the world.
But I’m still expected to climb on the ‘peace, joy & goodwill’ band wagon.

Goodness forbid, if anyone suggests they aren’t entirely stoked with the idea of Christmas and all its invented trappings, we’re accused of trying to ruin the season.

So I have an idea. Another crazy atheist waging a war on Christmas, you might think, but please hear me out.

How about, for a whole year – every day – we focus on being better humans, instead of slapping it on in spades for a month all for the sake of appearances.
Let’s actually be more tolerant and accepting and open, instead of preaching it.

By all means, have your Christmas – I’m cool with that, just as I’m cool with Muslims having Ramadan and Jews celebrating Passover. But let me have mine in the best way I can, without the buckets of guilt and anger at being exiled to the fringes for my inability to believe the same things you do. If you really believe the season is about peace, then please, let me be.

I genuinely wish you all the very best for the coming year. May your days be filled with wonder and success,

AWB

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3 thoughts on “My Season of Sad

  1. This is wonderful! I’m too tired right now to say anything sensible. But yes exactly. Christmas the most Stalinish of holidays. A bully but acts all fragile if you fail to suck up to an enough. It’s so very ruin-able. In a way that no one ever claims Halloween is. And I live in Canada, where Halloween often involves a big winter coat over your amazing costume. This is the first Christmas period I was on Twitter and surprise surprise atheist tweeters are among the worst Christmas bullies. Sigh. Thank you so much for sending me this.

    1. Thank you for your feedback! I was really suprised by the number of atheists who despise religious myth but are completely ok with Santa as a ‘real thing’ for their kids. To me, you either lie about it all or you tell the truth. My son deserves the truth. I wont tell him to believe in things that arent real, no matter the origins.

  2. YAY! Someone had to say it! I hear you loud and clear and agree.

    One year I asked my family to not buy me presents and was met by loud insistence that they MUST get me something “I can’t very well give everybody else something and not give you anything”. This tells me that the giving is to benefit the giver and not the recipient.

    “OK” I decided, “I cannot begrudge anyone that pleasure of giving so if you feel compelled to give some thing, make a donation to your chosen charity, I don’t care how much whether it is $20, $200 or $2. and if you want to give something to me, write a card telling me the charity you chose”. Do you know only one person respected that wish. Everybody else insisted on giving me presents when I specifically asked to have none!

    I don’t understand it. I was trying to do them all a favour to ease the Christmas financial burden.I can certainly do without the extra stress at Christmas both physically and financially.

    The whole santa thing always sat uneasy with me too. It teaches kids that they cannot have TOTAL trust in their parents and these are the people they should trust the most! We framed Father Christmas in terms of St Nicholas and the notions of ritual and custom.

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