Xmas is coming ...
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13-12-2016, 12:11 PM
Xmas is coming ...
... and I don't know how to approach it.

My mother, who died in August, was the last reason for me to go to church, so I don't feel the need to keep up appearances and attend anymore.
That said, I'm not officially "out" to my husband and kids, who are all quite non-religious, but I don't know how this will play out at Xmas.

I've attended church and had it drilled into me that Xmas is a religious holiday first and foremost for all my 52 years on earth, so forgive me if I feel it's going to be a kind of weird experience this year.

I also don't see this as a spending-type materialistic holiday either, but our family does have traditions, like the tree and the manger, that I know my (adult) kids hold dear.

So what do I do? How do I disentangle my christian Xmas brainwashing from the my new, secular approach to the holidays while still staying true to family traditions?

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Your faith is not evidence, your opinion is not fact, and your bias is not wisdom
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13-12-2016, 12:30 PM
RE: Xmas is coming ...
I still go to midnight mass sometimes and listen to Christmas songs while I drink a glass of wine and sit by the fireplace which is next to my Christmas tree Wink I exchange gifts with friends and family. I also celebrate Christmas--although not in the Christian sense. I view midnight mass as a night at the theater and Christmas songs as pure entertainment. My Christmas tree has an FSM ornament and Walking Dead ornaments hanging on it. I don't worship Jesus. He's just a character in a story and I took Christmas back for myself.

I actually prefer LadyJane's word for Christmas--she calls it "Excessmas." So celebrate Excessmas and enjoy Wink The church took so much from our lives, I'm taking their freakin' holiday and I'm going to celebrate it anyway I want to--which is the ultimate f-u to the church Tongue

So I say take back the holiday and turn into what you want to be. View the manger as something important to your family. Just another Excessmas decoration. Just another character like hanging Santa on your wall. It's meaningless, but means a lot to your family--and that is what Excessmas is all about.
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13-12-2016, 12:34 PM
RE: Xmas is coming ...
I think if it brings you comfort and makes you feel connected to the memory of your mom, you could still go to church.

Or start a new tradition. Drive around and look at the lights while signing carols, volunteer, go through your belongings and donate,
make/decorate a gingerbread house, bake cookies and make plates to deliver to a local senior center or elderly neighbors, etc.

I am an atheist through and through (as is my family) but we still participate in Christmas traditions - tree, carols, etc.

"If you don't have a seat at the table, you're probably on the menu."

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13-12-2016, 12:58 PM
RE: Xmas is coming ...
I guess I'm just have trouble detangling the traditional beliefs from the traditions themselves. When I first suspected I was an atheist, although intellectually I knew it was all rubbish, I still felt guilty when I didn`t attend church on Sunday. Some Sundays, when I drive past the church, I still feel a little twinge. I know it`s not rational, but emotions rarely are.

I never really liked Xmas (or Easter) church services, even when I was a practicing catholic, because there were too many non-practicing people who would show up just for that one day, making the service crowded and noisy and anything but peaceful for the "regulars", so I probably won't go.

However, I do wonder how my children will react: they were VERY close to their grandmother, even as adults, and her passing affected them deeply, so I think that many traditions will have to stay, even if they are religious in nature (crĂȘche), just to honour her, at least this year.

I`m just wondering if attending church will be one of these traditions I get roped into, for their sake. (I hope not).

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13-12-2016, 01:12 PM
RE: Xmas is coming ...
(13-12-2016 12:58 PM)Reducetarian Wrote:  I guess I'm just have trouble detangling the traditional beliefs from the traditions themselves. When I first suspected I was an atheist, although intellectually I knew it was all rubbish, I still felt guilty when I didn`t attend church on Sunday. Some Sundays, when I drive past the church, I still feel a little twinge. I know it`s not rational, but emotions rarely are.

I never really liked Xmas (or Easter) church services, even when I was a practicing catholic, because there were too many non-practicing people who would show up just for that one day, making the service crowded and noisy and anything but peaceful for the "regulars", so I probably won't go.

However, I do wonder how my children will react: they were VERY close to their grandmother, even as adults, and her passing affected them deeply, so I think that many traditions will have to stay, even if they are religious in nature (crĂȘche), just to honour her, at least this year.

I`m just wondering if attending church will be one of these traditions I get roped into, for their sake. (I hope not).

Maybe it's a good idea to have a talk with them. See what they think. Maybe they feel the same as you about the church thing--especially since as you say they're not very religious. If they still want to go--how about midnight mass or something like that? I actually enjoy midnight mass because the church I go to holds the mass in a barn and they put on a lil Mary Jesus Joseph play and then they sing Christmas carols and that's usually it. So it is more like a night at the theater than an actual mass. That said, if the whole mass thing is not something you want any part of, then I think you need to share that with your family.
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13-12-2016, 01:18 PM
RE: Xmas is coming ...
As for separating out traditions--the traditions have always been meaningless. We only gave them meaning through the church. Keep what you like and toss what you don't. Keep some traditions if you want and put your own spin on them. Or get rid of all of them and start some new ones.

There are also a lot of pagan undertones in Christmas--so it's not exactly a 100 percent Christian holiday anyway.
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13-12-2016, 01:24 PM
RE: Xmas is coming ...
When I was a kid when my mother was to tired to get us ready for church where usually the best Christmas's . Part of the trick to making that happen was to wake them up extra early. Christmas (Catholic) mass was about 2-3 hours long for us. So getting up for moving mass was a chore, had to get clean, dressed in our nicest clothing, pack us in the car and had to get there extra early to get a seat. Because of the people that only show up for the holidays, would fill the place to the gills. My mother who would normally sit us in the very first row so the priest could see us behave, made sure we had the last row, so we could be the first ones out. Before the parking lot became jammed with the hundreds of people doing the same.

So in my mind if you kids are young enough they may not care as much as going as you may think.

Don't Live each day like it's your last. Live each day like you have 541 days after that one where every choice you make will have lasting implications to you and the world around you. ~ Tim Minchin
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13-12-2016, 01:25 PM
RE: Xmas is coming ...
Since you said your husband and kids are quite non-religious, it doesn't sound like there is a huge risk of throwing your family into upheaval. So my thought would be to discuss exactly what you said here with them openly, but do it now so it's done with before the holidays. Also, I don't see why you should have to go to church with them even if they still want to go.

Regarding the Xmas traditions, if you don't already know, most of them did not originate with Christianity anyway. The tree, wreath, caroling, gift exchange, mistletoe... all pagan. Maybe knowing this can help you accept Christmas as just a holiday rather than a religious one.

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13-12-2016, 01:58 PM
RE: Xmas is coming ...
I would say, "ask them". Perhaps your husband first and then proceed with the kids based on your discussion with him. Maybe this year, being the first one, it will be important to keep up what's familiar - maybe not.

If it's important to hubby or kids to go then go. If not, start new traditions. You don't have to trash everything from the past...keep the nativity scene for now.

As my kids got older our family traditions changed and they are still changing. But for us Christmas is about the kids and getting together for a meal and enjoying each other.

We have a new twist this year in that it will be only my husband, me, my son, and his girlfriend. The other kids and grandkids have other families to spend time with and that's okay too.

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13-12-2016, 03:08 PM
RE: Xmas is coming ...
Well if your family is not very religious either, I don't think it will make a big difference. And not everybody has to formally come out to make things official. I never officially came out as Atheist to anybody. They just get the vibe that religion is not my thing and that is usually enough.
Now if you used to go to church and now you don't, probably a simple "I don't feel like it this year" could be absolutely enough.

Also, did you see Seth's video on this? Just to drive home the message that Christmas is not originally a christian holiday and this might help you to relax a little about it. I will link it here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kenbgMjRvlY&t=549s

As an example for a very "atheist Christmas", here is what we do at home. My husband and I lost faith at the same time (he from christianity, me from witchcraft)
So for him it was Christmas, for me it was Jul. Both with the same symbols but with slightly different rituals. The date was almost the same.
Nowadays we do this without religion and just enjoy the following things:
* Decorations
* Lights in the dark
* Gingerbread
* Great foods
* Our own ritual of cooking all day on Christmas day and have a pick nick on our bed in the evening with movies.
* We enjoy to be together
* Listening to good music (including religious carols)
* I like to tell my husband about the tales that surround Jul when it comes to the Nordic gods and the symbols (fruit hung on the tree, round things, jul log, etc)
* We take long walks and talk a lot

You see how things are actually very similar to a "christian christmas"? The one and only thing missing is the God-stuff. So as I said, they may not even notice a big change if you skip church.

Just relax and enjoy the holidays.

"Freedom is the freedom to say that 2+2=4" - George Orwell (in 1984)
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