An Agnostic Christmas

Artwork by Robert VenosaI celebrated Christmas growing up, but the holiday was a very secular affair for my family. We put up a tree and stockings, gave gifts, and ate and drank too much with the family on December 25. While I knew many of my friends honored the day as a celebration of the birth of Jesus, I never fully embraced Jesus. I accept that he was a real and inspirational figure, but I do not share the same beliefs as Christians.

Now that I’m a parent, I feel a certain responsibility to imbue this time of year a with meaning and purpose. The mother of a friend of ours gave us a large, fabric Christmas tree advent calendar with Velcro pockets for each day leading up to Christmas. The question that I posed to my husband: If we are not going to raise our daughter as a Christian, then how should we celebrate and honor this season? I didn’t want the calendar to be a countdown to the materialistic bliss on Christmas Day, but I also didn’t want to solely emphasize the birth of Jesus.

Our solution: each night after dinner we’ll let our daughter dig into that day’s pocket for the gift (a cookie, sticker, or small toy). Then we’ll sit down and my daughter will share what she is thankful for. I’ll write down what she says, and tuck the paper into that day’s pocket. The next evening, my husband will say one thing that he’s thankful for.  By Christmas day, we’ll have 24 reminders of why we are thankful.

How do you celebrate the holidays? What values and lessons do you emphasize for yourself and your kids?

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