So now, on the other side of it all, I can officially say- I’ve survived the holiday season for the first time as an unaffiliated person.
And it really wasn’t that hard.
I think that a lot of people have a vision of atheists as being anti-Christmas, or anti-religious-holidays in general. I can’t speak for the majority of atheists, but as for myself I have no problem with the holidays. If they are something that can bring families together or bring joy then that is an amazing and beautiful thing. Personally, the holidays brought my family together, in a sense. My parents ended up deciding to put off Christmas, because they decided to buy gifts for an entire women’s shelter and were kind of gifted-out. Despite this, my mom reached out to me and has decided that it would be okay if I celebrated with them when they decide to do something for the holidays, which I’m extremely excited about.
Of course, this brings up a few questions- will I pray with them? Will I go to church with them? I might not have to worry about the church anymore, as the Christmas Eve service that they attend regularly has already passed, but I don’t think that I would have gone with them anyway. As for prayer, I would probably bow my head with them and listen, but not “pray” per se.
This is similar to what I did the entire holiday season. While I did not attend midnight mass with some of my boyfriend’s family, I did bow my head when a prayer was said in respect for the people who do pray (this was also fun as I got to lock eyes and smile with the other non-religious persons at the meal). A big step that I also took was not denying my lack of faith. I admitted it to my boyfriend’s cousin, who ended up giving me a high-five. Later, my boyfriend’s parents asked me if I went to church, and I told them that I don’t anymore. While they didn’t look particularly happy (they’re somewhat practicing Catholics) they didn’t reprimand me or punish me in any way, which made me feel much more comfortable with being real and honest with them about who I am.
And, more than anything, it was nice to spend a holiday season focusing more on family and friends than on God. I’m happy to say that I came out on the other side still happy, still fulfilled.
Want to share your story about getting through the holidays? I would love to hear it: