And yes, that was an atheist wishing you a happy holiday, despite not subscribing to the religion behind it.
Because you know what? People can enjoy special occasions even when they come from traditions not their own. And in my case, as a former Christian myself, it was my tradition. That’s why I can still enjoy it.
And I know I’m not alone. Those of us who weren’t always put off by the Christian faith, who once loved and enjoyed this tradition, can still enjoy it even today. Granted, we have our reservations, and we can’t get into all the storyline behind it all because that ship has long since sailed for us.
But Christmastime can still be a beautiful thing. People get together who haven’t seen each other for months, and they have a really good time. Well, for much of the time anyway, right? Family can bring drama, to be sure. But it’s also an excellent opportunity for people to catch up with people they don’t ordinarily have enough interaction with to stay up to date.
It’s fun, okay? And some of the music can be quite beautiful. Some of the music I hear at Christmas can still bring me to tears. Because real or not—based in actual facts or not—the Christian story can be quite beautiful at times, and the same can be said for the music it inspires.
I know not everyone feels this way. I shared this sentiment with my Facebook friends not long ago and a number of them had to vent their own frustrations about a season they personally never owned. They joked about Rudolph and Jingle Bells and Grandma getting run over by a reindeer. But the rest of my friends got it, especially the ones who would call themselves post-Christian like me.
Being post-Christian means more than just not believing the Christian narrative anymore. It means doing so while still remembering what it was like to still believe. It means owning your own past, and recognizing it is still a part of you.
Whenever we start out on a new chapter of life, we don’t just reinvent ourselves out of whole cloth. We take from what we were before, and we work to forge new paths for ourselves. But we also take along with us what we’ve always been, and it informs and helps to shape who we become. This is why I can still enjoy Christmas.
This morning I found a picture on Facebook of my daughters enjoying a Christmas tradition with their mother, and it was truly beautiful. Some traditions I can still enjoy along with them (getting the tree put up and getting the lights on it as well as onto the house is still my job), but some of them are no longer for me. I cannot enter into the worship that they still enjoy, but I remember what it was like to do that, and seeing a family do that together is still beautiful to me. If I shared the picture with you, you would see what I mean. But I’m not going to, because some things are too private to share on a blog. You’ll just have to take my word for it. It’s beautiful.
I don’t have a “Godless Walk Through the Bible” article to share today. I’ve been on the road some the last few weeks, and holiday season brings its own share of busy-ness that makes writing a little harder than usual to keep up. I promise I’ll be back with plenty of things to say soon, so I’m not going anywhere. Just been too busy living to write about it.
But I wanted to share these sentiments with you this morning because I know Christmas can be conflictual for a number of us who have one foot still in the religious world and one foot out (where our hearts and heads are most of the time). We still live among families for whom this is a sacred time, and for us the burden of that can be overwhelming. It can be immensely saddening to see people we love so deeply enjoying something we ourselves can no longer enjoy in the same way. And imagine how confusing it is to miss something you no longer believe!
But this is what it’s like to be a former believer at Christmas. It’s simultaneously beautiful, and sad. Fun, and stressful. We can be an emotional mess, quite frankly. But this is a part of our life now.
I hope it helps to know that all of us are going through it. You’re not alone in this. There are thousands of people like me who find the holiday season a bittersweet one. The only way I know how to deal with it is to embrace the whole messy thing: the good and the bad, because that’s how everything goes. I can enjoy watching everyone else enjoy this season, and it helps me enjoy it as well.
It’s always good to have a compelling excuse to gather with the people you love, and sometimes the people you don’t get to see nearly enough. Besides, two weeks out of school :) For these reasons, I am grateful to have the Christmas season, believer or not.
[Image Source: Unsplash]