Christmas

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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25 December 2018 14:51
 

I’m just curious how forum members celebrate, neglect to celebrate or otherwise consider the Christmas holiday.

For myself it’s something I struggle with. American holidays in general feel false to me. I feel like they are driven by retail sales more than anything else. I’m glad for those that enjoy but I have a certain envy for nations where holidays seem more authentic. I’ve had the experience repeatedly of expressing this to people and being given retorts about how its for the family. I accept that but is there not something strange about marking a day with symbols that one knows are false using this reason? Is there something truly truth preserving that we can rescue from these traditions?

Thanks.

 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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25 December 2018 17:02
 

I would support a movement to push Christmas into late Spring. Historians could provide their best guess as to when exactly Jesus was perhaps born, and a Christmas.2 could be adopted. We’d leave out the commercial element, and focus instead on how nice the weather is! No more travelers stuck in airports waiting for snowstorms to end, and no more ice on the roads which can cause family get-togethers to end tragically.

 
 
burt
 
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burt
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25 December 2018 23:22
 

Was at a great Christmas party today, one of the discussions by some at dinner was about forming an Atheists for Christmas movement.

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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26 December 2018 07:07
 

I was brought up Jewish, so I don’t have a deep childhood attachment to Christmas.  I’ll admit I had Christmas envy as a child because of all the celebration and hype around me.  I married a Christian man who has had no need to go to church or outwardly talk about religion.  I went through a 10-year born-again phase (for reasons I won’t belabor here) in my thirties, when our kids were young.  I really enjoyed Christmas then, for spiritual reasons.  We had a decorated tree and talked about Santa…though we let the kids figure out Santa was just a fun story when they were pretty young.  Did the church thing, including a midnight mass once.  Probably the most moving Christmas service for me was holding my sleeping toddler son on my lap while listening to the story of Mary and Jesus.  I could relate to the idea of a mother believing her son was everything (to her).

Christmas lost its sparkle after I came back to a secular view of the world about a decade ago.  Also, our sons grew up and moved out.  We usually have just one son with us because the other lives several states away, as well as all the rest of our extended family.  Both sons are secular, so only Dad remains a believer now, and he’s very low-key about it.  Dad prefers not to deal with the holiday crush at the airports, so we visit family at other times of year. 

I like the idea of being festive, so I put up a 3-foot tree with about 2-dozen of my favorite ornaments.  Every year, we do something different on Christmas day.  Sometimes we get invited to a friend’s house.  Sometimes we invite friends over.  We look forward to cooking some special dishes.  Our kids told us they’d rather skip the exchange of presents, so just my hubby and I give a gift to each other, which we enjoy. 

To be honest, I get a bit of the holiday blues every year, hearing of big families gathering, celebrating fun, elaborate Christmas traditions.  I realize this is silly, and I appreciate all I have, but I’ll admit I do get triggered by the buzz that is going on in our culture.  A natural social instinct?  Anyway, I do a lot of self-talking to remind myself what I know rationally.

In my family, I feel Christmas becoming more like Thanksgiving, and that is fine with me.

[ Edited: 26 December 2018 07:10 by hannahtoo]
 
Skipshot
 
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Skipshot
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27 December 2018 07:59
 

Christmas has had its ups and downs with me.  As a kid it was great.  As a teen it was not so great because the fun of the mystery was gone and all that was left was the decorations and lights since religion wasn’t a big deal in my house.  It wasn’t until my first child was born did Christmas renew its relevance, but those days are once again fading as the kids get older.  My wife’s family likes to make a big family celebration, complete with the C&E Catholic mass, but religion is merely an excuse for a big family dinner.

These days the only part of Christmas which matters to me are the pretty lights and family dinner, otherwise the rest feels contrived and forced, with lip service paid to religion and consumerism.

 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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27 December 2018 10:13
 

For my family, christmas is always a time to gather and spend time together.
It has always been more about family than anything else…

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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27 December 2018 11:29
 

I’m all for festive and generous family gatherings. By all means lets do more of that.

I just wonder if other secular people feel a void though. I’ve had the privilege to participate in Jewish holidays (for instance) and witness the extraordinary significance of ritual. This is partially a nod to mythology but it’s also to mark some very tangible struggles and achievements. I think about things like a tea ceremony or a baptism or whatever it might be. I think there is something important that happens when a person expresses some transition in a formal way. The trappings of Christmas are quite clearly symbols of something analogous but they are hodge podge and (in my experience) not clearly named or described. There is something troubling about such an expenditure of time and effort to simply lift the superficial elements from another tradition and display them without any context or reverence. It’s like a person who gets a tribal tattoo because it looks cool but has no idea what it means and no connection to that community. I realize I probably over think these things.

I would definitely be interested in a holiday that was more thoughtful and more significant.

 
hannahtoo
 
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hannahtoo
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27 December 2018 12:29
 

One way to add some actual significance to Christmas would be to make it more of a solstice celebration.  That is, coming around the corner, moving from max darkness toward more light.  The solstice is a celestial reality, and an important seasonal marker.  It’s been celebrated by different cultures for millennia, so there is an interesting history.  And it can be a personal and societal metaphor, leading into the new year.  A lot of media, already, use December as a yearly wrap-up, identifying the key events of the past 12 months, honoring people who’ve made a difference, and making predictions for the next year.  Even the traditional story of A Christmas Carol seems apropos in this regard.  As Scrooge says at the end, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.”

Secular Christmas-Solstice could be a time of self-reflection, a time for appreciation of others, a time for giving charity, a time for making amends, a time for future planning.  Darkness into light.  In some ways, Christmas today already encompasses many of these notions.  But perhaps the self-reflection emphasis could shift the focus from family gift bonanza to filling more needs in the community?

[ Edited: 27 December 2018 12:37 by hannahtoo]
 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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27 December 2018 13:47
 
Brick Bungalow - 27 December 2018 11:29 AM

I just wonder if other secular people feel a void though.

No void here.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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27 December 2018 22:28
 
hannahtoo - 27 December 2018 12:29 PM

One way to add some actual significance to Christmas would be to make it more of a solstice celebration.  That is, coming around the corner, moving from max darkness toward more light.  The solstice is a celestial reality, and an important seasonal marker.  It’s been celebrated by different cultures for millennia, so there is an interesting history.  And it can be a personal and societal metaphor, leading into the new year.  A lot of media, already, use December as a yearly wrap-up, identifying the key events of the past 12 months, honoring people who’ve made a difference, and making predictions for the next year.  Even the traditional story of A Christmas Carol seems apropos in this regard.  As Scrooge says at the end, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me.”

Secular Christmas-Solstice could be a time of self-reflection, a time for appreciation of others, a time for giving charity, a time for making amends, a time for future planning.  Darkness into light.  In some ways, Christmas today already encompasses many of these notions.  But perhaps the self-reflection emphasis could shift the focus from family gift bonanza to filling more needs in the community?

I like this a lot. We are planning a Solstice event. Possibly involving telescopes.

 

 
Mr Wayne
 
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Mr Wayne
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28 December 2018 06:50
 

For us, Christmas is about the living.  Trees, people. 
I spend it with my wife’s family.  It’s a good time for taking photos.

With my family, we celebrate New Years instead.

Image Attachments
 
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