christmas for the non christian

IMG_2380Growing up, christmas was usually just another day in the calendar… granted, one that I usually dreaded because I would be the only person in my group of friends who would not have any gifts, or any special family dinners to attend.

Being raised in a non-christian household meant that I celebrated christmas only a handful of times, when we visited my grandparents in the United States.  These christmas trips were a.m.a.z.i.n.g.  We had ginger snap cookies, opened gifts, ate delicious food, saw snow fall outside foggy windows… my memories of christmas with my grandparent are ones of the best ones from my childhood.  In practice, I never saw christmas as a religious holiday, since my grandparent were quite secular.. we would not go to church or say prayers… the closest we got to having a religious ritual with them was singing some christmas carols.  But growing up, christmas WAS a religious holiday, and that’s why we did not celebrate it at home.

But I love christmas and the idea of christmas, the same way I love thanksgiving and the idea of thanksgiving.  Independent of, and explicitly devoid of, their origins.  I don’t care about the celebration of the birth of Christ or about the “welcoming” of the pilgrims by the american indigenous population.  But I do want to surround myself with friends and family and share food, give thanks, and exchange gifts with them.

For many years I have entertained the idea of having a christmas tree and having a gift exchange with friends… but a part of me would feel guilty about wanting this.  I would get thoughts such as “You are not a christian, you are not allowed to celebrate christmas”, “if you celebrate christmas you are being a traitor to your own religious beliefs!“… I remember I once brought it up with a family member, and they told me that it was a bad idea, and that I should strengthen the rituals from my own beliefs instead of from others… so I would throw the idea of christmas aside and do something else during christmas time.

As my household is becoming more secular, my husband a non-religious person, and myself trying to figure out what I am and what I believe in… I have decided that there is one thing that I am going to change.  I am not going to let un-founded guilt dictate what I should or should not do.

So this year I brought a christmas tree. (Ok.. more like a plant, which is a pine tree, but not the traditionally christmas looking type.)

And I put some lights on it, and a few ornaments.

And my house looks happier with the cute little christmas lights.

And I don’t feel guilty… sort of, I still need to work on this.

And this year I am celebrating christmas.  Which will consist of having a dinner with friends and exchanging gifts.  It will not have any religious meaning, because it is not a religious celebration to me.  But it will be another opportunity to share with friends and forge deeper ties of friendships with them.

ho. ho. ho.