Another Christmas has come and gone with new memories, familiar traditions, surprises and a feeling of wonder that anyone with kids who celebrate the holiday can relate to.
Year after year I fight the urge to voice my frustrations with both believers and non-believers when it comes to the holiday season. Believer A says “I’ll say ‘Merry Christmas’ and I don’t care who doesn’t like it!”. Non-believer B says “I better not see city workers taking down those lights- that is the government choosing one faith over the other!” Believer C wants to “Keep the CHRIST in CHRISTmas” while Non-Believer D screams “YOU DON’T EVEN DESERVE A YULE LOG- THAT BELONGS TO THE SOLSTICE!”. You know what I have to say to all of this…. GET OVER YOURSELVES!
Funny enough by saying that I unite them- suddenly I am the problem with Christmas because I don’t believe and I still celebrate. I get bombarded by accusations from some died hard nons about not being a true Atheist if I have a tree, some decorations or maybe an “Elf on the shelf”. Then I get attacked by the holier than thou believers that I have no right to celebrate the birth of Christ because I don’t worship God… Lucky for me I didn’t ask anyone for permission, and I certainly don’t need the way I live validated by anyone.
I refuse to allow anyone to use their beliefs to impact how I raise my children. Rich and I were both raised by moderate Catholic families who celebrated Christmas every year. We were both taught about God, Santa, the spirit of giving and the importance of family togetherness. With the exception of an instrumental version of “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” there wasn’t anything explicitly religious. Continuing now with our own children we follow similar traditions, none of which require God to enjoy.
This year we had a beautiful tree, old ornaments mixed with new… a custom “Dawkins A” ornament placed next to one featuring a picture of my daughter with Santa and solid lights to minimize my risk of photosensitive triggered seizure. We introduced our “elf on the shelf” for Arabella- we named him “Hitch”… we will use this story as a fun part of the holiday, but not as a threat of punishment from Santa (google the story and you’ll understand better). I sent out roughly 100 holiday cards, a reminder to our friends and family that we love them. The cards we received covered the archway from our living-room to dining room, this will be the last decoration I take down. I baked cookies and cakes, some traditional and some new ones as well… it turns out that making cupcakes that resemble the “bumble” is not as easy as I thought it would be. Holiday movies play non-stop in our home from 12/1-12/25 (the cheesier, the better). Even our rubber ducky manger made an appearance this year.
Christmas eve was filled with family, food, drinks, gifts and love- it is a nice opportunity to get everyone together and I look forward to it each year. Christmas morning was filled with magic. Most of this comes from watching Arabella experience everything from a completely different perspective than she had last year. As we waited for her older brothers she danced around the room with our puppy, Zdeno, waiting to see what was going to happen next. She was much more excited to see her brothers open gifts than to open them herself (this will surely change as she gets older) but once she caught a glimpse of her new toys her smile lit up the room.
Even with all of this my Christmas gift (or as Rich says, his gift) took center stage. After the kids finished opening their gifts Rich approached me, got down on one knee and presented me with a ring, asking if I would give him the gift of being his wife. As you might imagine I said yes without hesitation. Though the institution of marriage has never been critical to our relationship, the declaration of love and commitment meant more to me than I ever could have imagined.
So yes, we celebrate Christmas, and yes- it is okay. December 25 may not signify the birth of Christ for our family (and it isn’t his birthday anyway… sorry had to get that in here somewhere) but it does stand for family, giving, happiness, celebration and most of all love. I hope you all had a wonderful December, no matter what you did, and I wish you all the best in 2016.