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.
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,