Michele over at A Small Victory has a wonderful entry on why she, as an atheist, celebrates Christmas. I often get asked the same question and Michele’s answer is pretty much what I tell folks as well only she says it way more eloquently than I’ve managed so far.
So why does this atheist celebrate a holiday that is supposed to be about religion? It’s not the gifts, it’s not the gaudy decorations. It’s the spirit.
When I was a child, Christmas time meant so many things. Parties in school, snow on the ground, snooping around my parent’s bedroom for hidden presents. The air was filled with a sense of anticipation and joy that was not present most of the year. The calendar was marked down with X’s on the dates of December, and every new X meant that special day was coming.
Of course, I loved the presents. But I loved the atmosphere, too. My parents are very social people. During the holiday season, there would be friends and relatives dropping over to say hello, have a drink, maybe a bite to eat. The Christmas tree glowed and sparkled and the windows were covered with those plastic, colorful decorations depicting Santa and snowmen and angels.
Christmas is about traditions. For as long as I can remember, we would gather at my aunt’s house on Christmas Eve – we still do – enjoying an Italian feast of fish and pasta, at least 40 of us crowded into the fully decorated basement. We exchanged presents and Santa came and the grownups were all happy and carefree and festive. We would go home late, get tucked into bed and then lay there for what seemed like hours, too excited to sleep. It was a great night to be a kid.
I don’t always agree with her political viewpoint, but I’ve found that we share a lot of other commonalities and this is one of them. Go read this entry if you want to understand why atheists like Michele and myself celebrate Christmas.