A Christmas-caroling, Yuletide-loving, Cheer-spreading Atheist

by Alicia Allyn Bobcheck, SHCC Chairperson

I love Christmas. I love Christmas so much that I start making my Christmas gift list in the summer. I love Christmas so much that I start singing carols in September. I love Christmas so much that I have conveniently forgotten every time it was ruined by my alcoholic father… um, but that’s another story.

“But, Alicia, you’re an atheist. How do you even celebrate Christmas?”

Well, I play Christmas music. I buy gifts for people and wrap them. I decorate my house. I make Christmas cards and send them out. I travel to see my family. I drive around looking at Christmas lights. I drink eggnog and eat Christmas cookies. I tell stories of Christmases past. I generally walk around in a merry haze with a goofy smile on my face wishing everyone a Merry Christmas or a Happy Holidays.

“Why? You don’t believe that Christ is your savior and you don’t go to mass so why Christmas?”

I don’t think I have to go into the facts that Christmas was originally a pagan holiday or that it’s not actually Jesus’ birthday, right? I figure if you’re reading this you probably know all that. I celebrate Christmas because of the traditions, old and new, in my family. I celebrate Christmas because almost everyone has the time off for the holidays and plans their parties and get-togethers around this holiday. I celebrate Christmas because I’ll take any excuse to eat too much good food; show my loved ones how much I love them; splash my house all over with color, cheer, light; and be merry with the world. I celebrate Christmas because while I believe in practicing peace and good will towards men all year round, Christmas is a time to celebrate and honor those values.

“Will you be mad if I tell you Merry Christmas?”

Nope.

“Why don’t you celebrate other religious holidays?”

I don’t really know any other religious holidays except for Easter. I wasn’t raised in any particular tradition. My family was very secular, and I grew up in a small town where exposure to non-Christian faiths was exceptionally rare. I think I knew one Jewish family in high school. So, I choose to celebrate the holidays with which I have the most experience and comfort. Also, I don’t really think anyone should feel obliged to celebrate any holiday with which they don’t agree or understand.

“Why don’t you want people to celebrate Christmas with religious imagery?”

The truth is I don’t give a good gosh darn what other people do to celebrate. I’m not in their homes. I’m not part of their family. I don’t share their beliefs. And, even if any of those instances were so, who am I to tell them that they’re wrong? Make merry, express yourself, celebrate however you see fit!

That being said, I want to make one clear distinction: I do not support Christian iconography on public grounds and/or at the expense of tax payers. Religious symbols have their place–at churches and temples and private residences. It’s unnecessary and unconstitutional to promote singular religious beliefs on lands public to people of all faiths, traditions, and beliefs.

“So, you’re not waging a war on Christmas?”

Um, it’s the most wonderful time of the year! Duh, of course I’m not waging a war. This is a time of year when we should set aside our weapons and our preconceived notions, and join hands in brotherhood, peace, and understanding. It’s a time when we should share our bounty and our love, and reflect on the meaning of giving and receiving.

My Christmas wish is for health, joy, prosperity, and understanding in the New Year for all.

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