Atheists and Non Christians - What do you do about Xmas?

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This question is going out to the other atheists and other non-xians on the board. What do you do, or not do, about xmas?

My folks were both atheists. When I was growing up, we wouldn't decorate the house, send cards or sing carols, but we'd have gifts on xmas morning, serve at the local homeless shelter and have a big dinner. My folks felt they were making a concession to rampant consumerism in our society rather than commemorating the birth of Christ in giving us gifts.

As an adult, I send general greeting cards with a winter theme, but not true xmas cards. I give gifts to my Christian relatives, since they celebrate the holiday, but my folks and I no longer exchange gifts. We still go down to the nearest homeless shelter, but my Christian brother no longer accompanies us. My fiance does, however.

My fiance was raised as a Christian, though she is also an atheist. She really wants to decorate for the holidays, but I'm uncomfortable with it. I can handle exchanging Christmas gifts with her and even sitting through her family's traditional reading of the birth of Christ from the New Testament, but I don't know if I can handle having our house turned into a Christmas Wonderland. She literally wants to put up tons of lights, a moving display in the front yard, garlands on every surface that's stable, etc. Has anyone else had this dilemma? I want her to be happy, but I also don't want to go into hock to the power company!

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewithouta.god), November 27, 2000

Answers

In the end, it isn't a BFE, not like you have to sell your soul for a few lights. You think you are worried? I am still afraid of all those Catholic people still carrying around those Idols. On Poles, even. Tarzan, give the Lady, her delight, in lights. The gift of lights would not be here, had Heaven not allowed it. Remember, Heaven is stronger than Hades. Light the lights.

-- My Story (andi@sticking.com), November 27, 2000.

Better settle your differences BEFORE you get married. If you take the "innocent" fun out of everything, what joy would either one of you have during any holiday - including a birthday or anniversary? And what about your future children. At some point in time, your wife will want family holiday traditions for the kids. Don't be so stark and stiff, anything that you give of yourself is a worthy gesture of love for someone else.

-- Mrs. Cleaver (Mrs.Cleaver@LITBBBB.vcom), November 27, 2000.

Allow yourself to celebrate, for celebration sake. For the family, not for yourself. The fellowship, the food, the fun. Let the "holiday" season, be a Holiday!

You probably don't believe in ghosts, either, but do you have fun on Halloween? I'm not much for making a deity out of Martin Luther King, but I LOVE the holiday.

-- TDA (hooda@thunk.it), November 27, 2000.


TRarzan, your woman, jane the apewoman is faking it to please you. She is still a Christian!!!

-- ... (...@aol.com), November 27, 2000.

Ape-dude,

I did my annual Clark Griswold Xmas light extraviganza this past weekend. I have about 2000 watts in spotlights alone, plus those icicle lights on the house and lights in the trees and lights on the hedges and so forth and so on. Hee Hee, ol' Hal across the street is gonna have to really work hard to beat me this year, lol. Did you know that UFOs often use my house as a reference point on their way to Nebula 14?

Make the girl happy, you owe her. Go in hock to the power company, if only for a month, and spend a day or two with ladders, tangled light cords, and a staple gun. Now THAT'S Xmas.

Oh yeah, I also drop about five bills each year on Toys for Tots as my way of giving back at Xmas, which is really what it's all about.

Merry Christmas bud.

-- Uncle Deedah (unkeed@yahoo.com), November 27, 2000.



I thought I'd taken a wrong turn when I drove home from school tonight. My block has almost every house already lit up. We don't do the Babes in Toyland thing. It DOES sound, however, as though your fiance would like to be reminded of the holidays of her childhood. There must be good memories involved, or she wouldn't be talking about it.

We're pretty egalitarian around here. If I wanted lights, I'd put them up and pay any extra expense in the power bill. If SO wanted lights, he'd do the same. There's no need to ask permission or burden the other with labor involved in OUR desires, particularly with a temporary change. [We may chuckle at what we consider "goofy", but we haven't yet in 13 years raised any objections.]

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), November 27, 2000.


I usually send a lump of coal to Santa Claus. Then I find a church with a nice Christmas Manger setup and I break the head off of the Jesus and stick it in the cow's mouth.

-- (heee.hee@wacko.atheist), November 28, 2000.

I just love dem athiests they're such a blessing!!

they confirm the prophecies--they build my faith!!

they ARE doing GODS WILL & don,t even get it!!!!

-- al-d (dogs@zianet.com), November 28, 2000.


Celebate Bacchanalia. What's the big deal?

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), November 28, 2000.

That's celebrate, not celibate.

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), November 28, 2000.


Tarzan,

I'm a Christian,but I kinda share your thoughts on the decorating gig,I work out in the public and see soooo much of it I'm fried on it by the end of the day after day after day,I swear it's like Christmas hell.So I don't put out anything.

Unc has the right idea about it,it truly goes with the statement "it's for the children",Anita is right about the lights,let *her* do it if it's that *important* to her.

Or you can be like moi and take on the nickname of Grinch for the next few weeks,I'm not kidding : )

-- capnfun (capnfun1@excite.com), November 28, 2000.


Ooops, my spiritual guide tells me that I meant Saturnalia, the orgiastic revelry of the winter solstice. Then of course there's New Year.

You can get thru the whole holiday season without any religious references (except the etymology of the word "holiday").

Hmmm, maybe I spoke in haste. Do atheists only deny a "modern" God such as that in Christianity and Islam or are pagan Gods also to be avoided? If that's the case, then you can't celebrate Saturn either.

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), November 28, 2000.


I don't celebrate Christmas, but I love the lights! I keep several strings of colored chilli pepper lights up in my living room all year long, only taking them down when I have to replace the burned out ones.

Make your own holiday! And let her have her lights. If it's too expensive, she can take a temporary job wrapping packages at the mall or something for a couple of weekends.

-- (raven@never.more), November 28, 2000.


All-

Thanks for your responses.

Jane and I had a long talk last night and came to a compromise. She can decorate inside the house, but she'll limit herself to just some lights outside. Since she works placing children in foster care and adoptive homes, we're going to take some of "her" kids out to some of the big light displays, since that was the whole reason she wanted to put up a big yard display anyway.

I'm still not sending out Xmas cards, though.

Lars and TDA-

I am an atheist, which means I am without any gods, period. Celebrating Saturnalia in lieu of Xmas would create the same problem, i.e., I would be a hypocrite. I do like Halloween, but I don't decorate the house or actively engage in pagan religious activities, though I have attended some as an observer.

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewithouta..god), November 28, 2000.


Tarzan, in our house we celebrate "Festivus" as an alternative to Christmas. Try it.

-- George Costanza (unkeed@yahoo.com), November 28, 2000.


Nice to hear you reached a compromise :)



-- Peg (pegmcleod@mediaone.net), November 28, 2000.


Um, Deedah? Who's George Costanza? Is he an alter-ego or something?

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewithouta.got), November 28, 2000.

Gerge Costanza was a character on the Seinfeld sitcom. His father created Festivus, complete with a pole instead of a Christmas tree, and having to wrestle George's father and pin him in order to officially end the holiday.

Or something like that.

Rich

-- Bingo1 (howe9@shentel.net), November 28, 2000.


I don't celebrate Christmas. Was raised Jewish and thought Chanukah was pretty cool, what with receiving one gift each night for however many days the holiday lasts eight if I remember correctly. I chucked it and the religion once I went through the rite of passage known as a bar mitzvah. The Old Testament is one nasty document, IMO. That's one god I'd hate to run into in a dark alley. Actually, it's many gods, but who's counting? Or is it one god with multiple personality disorder?

For many years now my home has served as a halfway house for those seeking to escape the Americanization of the celebration of Christ's birth. I always entertain a visitor or two who needs to escape from the crass commercialism. No lights. No tree. No decorations. No exchanging of gifts. Gifts are best given and received when they are least expected, IMO.

Providing your SO with what she asks might be the greatest gift you could give her short of defeating the cancer, of course.

Rich

-- Bingo1 (howe9@shentel.net), November 28, 2000.


One event I look forward to in December is going with my church group to a local nursing home and singing carols for a couple hours. Blessings too numerous and all that...

-- Bingo1 (howe9@shentel.net), November 28, 2000.

I'm still not sending out Xmas cards, though.

I always thought Christmas cards were a waste of time and money. The only cards I've received that I enjoyed were the ones with notes included inside, catching me up on the news of someone's family, etc. I guess it's been a good excuse for people to keep in touch, but how much touch is there in a card that is simply signed?

One friend of mine avoids the Christmas rush and sends out a sortof newsletter to friends world-wide. She does this in September. Another has her newsletter on the internet and simply E-mails when updates occur.

It kindof tickles me that some folks don't even think of me until they go through their address books to address their Christmas cards. My oldest brother is like that. Every year I get a card with a note, and if I were to compare this year's note with the notes from the past five years, they'd all say the same, "Hi, Honey. Hope everything is fine with you. We've been busy, etc."

-- Anita (Anita_S3@hotmail.com), November 28, 2000.


I'm Jewish, but not really in the religious sense. My ex was a Christian. So we celebrated both Christmas and Hanukkah. Neither of us was very religious, and we weren't big on decorations. And we were both pretty flexible and sensitive to the other's needs, so we never had any big problems -- um...in THIS area, anyway. Problems elsewhere? Oy, vey! But that's another thread.

Anyway, now it's just me and my two boys -- and we have my dad here with us for the holidays. We still celebrate both Christmas and Hanukkah. I kinda like to call the whole thing "Chronikkah". (Kewl -- I was able to keep myself from typing in yet another smiley- face, and it only cost me one bead of sweat and another facial tic that'll probably vanish by tomorrow morning).

I don't send a lot of cards, but I look for blank cards with beautiful winter scenes on them and handwrite 'em all -- I try to personalize them.

We have few lights or other decorations, mostly just what's on the the tree -- and we have a menorah. We're lucky, though, to have lots of huge conifers around our house. And when you couple that with a fresh blanket of snow (and me out there in the early morning trying to negotiate a hot cuppa coffee with my mittens on) -- well, to me it's more decoration than I'll ever need.

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), November 28, 2000.


Tarzan,

The festivals of light at this time of year are symbolic of hope in the darkness. She may need the reassurance and reconnection this year. Christmas really does have more to do with Saturnalia, Kwanzaa is a harvest festival, Hannukkah might have too much of a miracle angle to it for your comfort level - but if you ever have the opportunity to experience it with friends - I'd encourage you to do so.

You can make your own traditions, and find deeper meaning in them through the passing of the years.

-- flora (***@__._), November 28, 2000.


Tarzan--

Sounds like you are making atheism into a deadly serious job. Sort of the way some religious folks do with their beliefs. Why not just share in your fiancee's pleasure of decoration?

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), November 28, 2000.


Tarz,

A wise man once said,

"Providing your SO with what she asks might be the greatest gift you could give her short of defeating the cancer, of course."

Bingo.

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), November 28, 2000.


Sounds like you are making atheism into a deadly serious job. Sort of the way some religious folks do with their beliefs. Why not just share in your fiancee's pleasure of decoration?

Lars, would you make such a dig if I were Jewish rather than an atheist?

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewithotua.net), November 28, 2000.

Tarz,

Are you in any way able to view Christmas in a secular way -- that is, with an emphasis on good will toward our fellow human beings, and the joy we get in our giving and helping others?

I know Christians would disagree with me, but that's how I view it, and I not only think it's a valid way of looking at it, but it allows me to relish every minute of the holiday season. I'm even ok with the religious aspect, even though I don't believe in the literal truth of the Bible. In fact, I'm happy that it gives comfort to people.

My belief in God is extremely abstract; and I float from there to agnosticism and at times to even a mild type of atheism. Sometimes I see Him as somehow the first cause of existence -- but that's pretty much the extent of it.

Which more accurately reflects your atheism? The belief that God does not exist, or the absence of a belief in God? They're two very different things. If it's the latter of the two, I would think it would lead one to be more accepting of others' beliefs and traditions.

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), November 28, 2000.


Are you in any way able to view Christmas in a secular way -- that is, with an emphasis on good will toward our fellow human beings, and the joy we get in our giving and helping others?

Yes. My family and I spend the day volunteering at our local homeless shelter for their Christmas dinner. Then, we go home and have a big dinner with each other. Even when I haven't been able to get together with my folks for Christmas, I have done that.

I know Christians would disagree with me, but that's how I view it, and I not only think it's a valid way of looking at it, but it allows me to relish every minute of the holiday season. I'm even ok with the religious aspect, even though I don't believe in the literal truth of the Bible. In fact, I'm happy that it gives comfort to people.

My problem isn't with Christmas, it is in active participation of a religious celebration. I have attended religious services with friends and acquaintances before. I do not pray, nor do I sing hymns. Since I don't believe, that would make me a hypocrite and would be a sign of disrespect to their beliefs. Likewise, I don't protest others who wish to go all out in celebrating the birth of Christ, but I, myself, don't wish to participate.

My belief in God is extremely abstract; and I float from there to agnosticism and at times to even a mild type of atheism. Sometimes I see Him as somehow the first cause of existence -- but that's pretty much the extent of it.

Sounds like the founders, most of whom were Deists. Have you ever attended UU services? You might like them.

Which more accurately reflects your atheism? The belief that God does not exist, or the absence of a belief in God?

I have never seen any evidence for the existance of ANY god or gods, therefore I lack belief.

If it's the latter of the two, I would think it would lead one to be more accepting of others' beliefs and traditions.

I'm beginning to be a bit resentful of being painted as intolerant of others' beliefs and traditions. Once again, I do NOT have a problem with Christmas or other people's beliefs, I am just uncomfortable with active participation in a religious celebration.

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewihtouta.net), November 28, 2000.


Sounds like you are making atheism into a deadly serious job. Sort of the way some religious folks do with their beliefs. Why not just share in your fiancee's pleasure of decoration?

Lars, would you make such a dig if I were Jewish rather than an atheist?

Tarzan--

Sorry if it sounded like a dig.

I just think that atheists sometimes take themslves too seriously.

BTW, couldn't it be said that atheism is itself a religion? What is the definition of religion? In the most general sense, isn't religion just a system of thought that incorporates a world-view, moral/ethical absolutes and a set of shiboleths? Doesn't atheism meet these criteria?

Season's Greetings. It's on to Poole's for me.

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewithotua.net), November 28, 2000.

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), November 28, 2000.


BTW, couldn't it be said that atheism is itself a religion?

Nope. Atheism is no more a religion than baldness is a hair color.

In the most general sense, isn't religion just a system of thought that incorporates a world-view, moral/ethical absolutes and a set of shiboleths?

Yes

Doesn't atheism meet these criteria?

No, it doesn't. There is no organized system of atheist beliefs, no generalized world view, and no moral or ethical absolutes. There isn't much of anything atheists have in common, except a lack of belief.

See you at Pooles.

-- Tarzan the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewithouta.net), November 28, 2000.


Tarzan,

I'm sorry; I really didn't mean to offend you with my post. Maybe I should have read your posts more closely. I don't have time to respond to the rest of your post right now; talk to ya soon, though -- probably at Poole's?

Eve

-- eve (eve_rebekah@yahoo.com), November 28, 2000.


Tarzan--

Probably what I had in mind was Secular Humanism which I think is a subspecies of atheism and which does meet the general criteria for a religion.

I agree that there is no organized system of atheist beliefs.

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), November 28, 2000.


Neither myself nor my wife are Christians, in the sense that we do not believe in Christ's resurrection after dying on the cross, nor do we believe in the trinity, nor in many other articles of the Nicean Creed. We do have respect for the sacred traditions of the Christianity (as opposed to the secular politics or the history of the church).

We enjoy having a tree, so we have one. We enjoy having family over, so we invite them. We have been determinedly de-emphasizing gift giving over the past five or six years and have made some headway in that direction - but some gifts still are given.

When you think about most Christmas traditions, almost none of them are sacred in nature, amost all of them are secular. We just pick and choose among the secular festivities that we like and ignore the trappings (creches, crosses, Santa Claus, hyper-commericalism, and so on) we do not feel comfortable with.

-- Brian McLaughlin (brianm@ims.com), November 28, 2000.


Tarzan you are the grinch

-- cin (cin@cin.cin), November 28, 2000.

Eve-

I wasn't offended by your post per se, just getting a little tired frustrated. I'll see you at Poole's.

Lars-

I don't know that I agree that Secular Humanism meets the definition of religion. I know Pat Robertson and others have maintained that for several years. Why don't you show me some evidence? Can be here, can be at Poole's.

Brian-

Thanks for your post. I guess a tree won't kill me.

You might want to try charitable gifts in lieu of presents for adults, of course. Last year, I made a donation in the names of my fiance's parents to a charity they support. They were quite pleased.

Cin-

On behalf of my great-grandmother, whom you so callously and fasley accused of allowing her children to starve, fuck you.

-- Taran the Ape Man (tarzan@swingingthroughthejunglewithouta.net), November 28, 2000.


LARS said-- "In the most general sense, isn't religion just a system of thought that incorporates a world-view, moral/ethical absolutes and a set of shiboleths?"

TARZ said-- "yes"

I don't know what Pat Robertson says about anything. But from what I know of secular humanism it fits this general definition of a religion upon which we both agreed.

-- Lars (lars@indy.net), November 28, 2000.


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