Wednesday, December 21, 2011


Maybe it's the years raised in a primarily catholic home talking.
Maybe it's the traditional (fake) Christmas tree, with its star trek ornaments mixed among armies of santas and hosts of angels.
Maybe it's the music, with all it's cheesy traditional goodwill.
Maybe it's seeing my uncle, my aunts, and my parents again.

I don't really know what it is exactly that does it, but I really like Christmas.  For some it's a celebration of the birth of their manifest deity, while for others the season celebrates the shortest day of the year and the return of the sun.  Be it Yule, or Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, for many it's a deep religious celebration.  For me, and many others, it's a celebration of togetherness, of family and friends, and of love.  For all the stress, and rampant commercialism, and rampant religious fundamentalism, it still has that joyous allure for me, and while I'm right there with my fellow atheists in arguing for separation of church and state, and demanding we respect all the different traditions during this time while keeping the "christ" out of "christmas," as that special day nears I find myself caring less and less about the politics of it and more about that simple togetherness.

I'll be seeing my Uncle this Christmas Eve.  My uncle is fun, and I love seeing him every Christmas.  He's also a fundamentalist conservative Christian.  He's also a former hippie.  He's ridiculous in so many ways, yet I still love seeing him.  Every year there's worry of drama, of him finally confronting me, of me finally telling him that I'm an atheist and I don't give a damn about his stories of my miracle birth due to his prayers, or of us simply going at it over the dinner table as we argue one way or the other.  It hasn't happened yet, even though I've been a nonchristian for many years.  Does he know I'm not christian?  I think he may suspect it, but I doubt he realizes I'm a dyed-in-the-wool atheist.  Does it matter?  No, not really.  Even though there may come a christmas where we end up having that confrontation, I'm still happy to see him.  He's fun and I like him.  I like his wife, my aunt.  I like his sister, who is far more liberal and far more entertaining.  I like seeing them all, because it's Christmas.

This Christmas eve I'll be eating carrot pudding, watching A Christmas Carol (the original black and white version.  My family are purists for the classic), and enjoying one another's company.  Things will have changed.  This Christmas my grandmother won't be at her house.  I won't be obligated to take her portion of christmas dinner down to her.  She's not well and it won't be quite the same, but I'll still get to see her.  This Christmas will also bring newer blessings with it.  Tomorrow I drive to the airport to pick up my girlfriend, who will be spending Christmas with us.  She'll get to meet my parents for the first time, see the house I grew up in, and will be a new addition to my christmas tradition.  I like that.  My Christmas will be different, but it will not be bad.

Twenty years ago I cared about presents and loathed the ceremony of Christmas dinner.  I barely remember it.
Ten years ago I was still a catholic and was home for winter break after my first semester at Gonzaga.  I was going to be a famous writer one day and majored in English.
Five years ago I was so very, painfully new age, and I was just going back to school after a very long break, having left Gonzaga for various reasons.
Two years ago I was still religious, but only barely, and I had decided I loved science more than english.
A year ago I was an atheist, and knew that I loved science more than teaching.
Today I am still an atheist, and still remain committed to my goals from a year ago.  What is new is my beautiful girlfriend, who makes me feel like I can accomplish anything.

Looking around me, at the tree I decorated, at the life I had before and the life ahead of me, at the dining room table I grew up sitting at, I feel joyous.

Merry Christmas to some, and to the rest may you feel joy in whatever way you choose.

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