Monday, December 14, 2009

Happy Holidays

Happy winter solstice! This year winter solstice falls on December 21. It is the shortest day of the year, the longest night. Most ancient cultures would have a celebration at this time of year. It makes sense, a needed distraction from the cold dark days. It gives us something to look forward to, as the days will now be getting longer.

The members of our immediate family are self-proclaimed atheists. It sounds pagan or anti religion but really all it means is that we do not believe in a god. We do not go to a church or a temple; we do not celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah. We do believe in family and being good to each other and being good to our friends. We donate to several charities. We celebrate on the solstice so that we will have a family tradition. It is a day to spend together and eat good food and exchange a few gifts.

Unfortunately and surprisingly we have gotten some negative feedback about our beliefs. It has caused me to dread this time of year. Everyone assumes that you celebrate something and when you don’t it can be quite confusing. My kids bear the brunt of it. “Excited about Santa?” the guy at the video store asks. My daughter replies, “we don’t celebrate Christmas.” “Happy Hanukkah then”, he cheerfully perseveres. “Nope” she says not missing a beat. My son who is 5 says, “Santa is not real…” I blush and swipe my card and shuffle out of the store hoping that no other child has overheard.

I worry that they will regret not having a religion and a group to identify with. I worry that they will not appreciate being in the minority – and by choice. So far they seem to take it in stride, just another weird mom thing. Honestly, they don’t really seem to care at all – as long as the Solstice gifts keep coming.

Happy Holidays to all – whatever they may be….


lostfortcollins said...

This is interesting and refreshing. I didn't tell my son the Santa Claus myth because I thought it would interfere with his eventual understanding of God. It seems like many people's ideas of God are some combination of Santa Claus/parents, and here one turns out to be myth and the other, liars.

As with many parenting decisions, I'm not 100% sure I made the right decision. Most people say they loved the Santa story as children and have no regrets.

I am, however, proud of how thoughtful my son is about God. At 13, he flip flops between faith and lack thereof. He's feeling free to explore spiritually, and that's everything I wanted for him.

Elisabeth said...

Thank you "lostfortcollins". It is nice to know someone is reading our blog. I agree, it is really about being free to explore for yourself. We shouldn't force our ideas on others. I always tell my kids that they might believe in something different when they grow up and that is OK with me. For now, they just believe whatever I tell them, so I try to be careful to leave a lot open ended. I always try to encourage them to "think outside of the box".