An atheist mother and her two younger, impressionable kids, walk into a Family Dollar store in a city in Kentucky. It's October 19th, and in just twelve days, their favorite holiday will arrive. Yes, Halloween! So the trio eagerly makes their way through the usual malfunctioning door of the converted mini-mart and excitedly round a few aisles to check out any last minute decorations that might be for sale. Then the unthinkable happens as they find the decked out orange and black aisles of Halloween fan fare. Just above the glitter encrusted pumpkins and mega packs of jelly filled eyeball candy hanging off a display hook, there is a familiar red and white Santa hat sticking above the shelf divider.
Groaning in disbelief, mom asks her twelve year old why there were Christmas displays being put up just a week after all the Halloween items had been fully stocked? He shrugs, and walks around to see what is being offered, returning a few seconds later looking rather nonplussed and saying it is the usual crap. So, the small group continues perusing the meager offerings of the macabre and spooky, laughing sometimes when they notice angel wings from the other side of the shelf outlining a devil's mask.
Yes, Christmas has officially landed.
In my home, it has been a gradual transition from hollowly celebrating the motions of the holiday for the sake of the kids, to now not observing it at all, and instead holding a New Year's Day celebration. Santa died a slowly drawn out death into non existence amongst our children, but the trade off has been a good one. I have learned that completely putting my foot down and knocking the practice of the holiday itself is not an effective way to explain to kids the fallacy behind it all.
We prefer conversations in our home, and the holidays are a fantastic medium for it. Especially when exploring other cultures and what their observances entail on such occasions. You can imagine the delight my children experienced when I read to them about Saint Nicholas resurrecting three boys who had been chopped up by a butcher during a famine. And the whole deal with the Yule log was a particularly fascinating story that ended up leading to a deeper thought on the naivete of early man and his understanding of the sun.
In essence, our lack of belief in deities has brought us closer to what so many Christians strive to accomplish on Christmas Day: Observance of the value of family, and observance of the meaning behind the holiday. We value the stories and the lessons to be learned from the fable told. Too often I watch religious families break down with aggravation and stress due to the high demands they impose upon themselves to make the Christmas holiday perfect, completely sidestepping what they are supposed to be observing. There is such a pervasive selfishness within the workings of the Christian observances, it is hard to imagine how they take anything away from the experience at all.
Which is more memorable during a holiday? A pumpkin pie or a meaningful conversation?
A wrapped present, or the closeness you can have with the person who bought it for you?
I cannot understand how anyone gets the "reason for the season" from a wrapped up IPad. Giving a gift to impart a religious message is not logical, especially so when the gift is way cooler than a 2000 year old religious book. Further, you have all of the excessive gift giving being enabled by the talking heads at Fox News and the AFA claiming their is a war on Christmas because a Walmart sign only says Happy Holidays. I would argue these same people that decry the generic Happy Holidays slogan are, in fact, encouraging the religiously faithful to lose sight of what the real message is for their culture.
It is not the secularists asking the AFA to shut the hell up who are declaring a war on Christmas, but in fact, it is the AFA who has declared the war. The AFA and other pundits like Glenn Beck or Sean Hannity should be avoided if one is truly concerned about the sanctity of Christmas. I doubt the three Magi who visited baby Jesus had any concern as to whether the markets they bought the gifts at were observant of Christian culture or not because it did not matter. After all, all things supposedly come through Yaweh, right? So, what's the problem?
If one is concerned about where they purchase gifts and if that store is willing to acknowledge Christmas on a simple store sign, I would recommend they get back in their bawbles. Earthly possessions are not important and to put such value in whether you purchase a 99 cent Christmas toy made in China from a Walmart without a sign worded with Christmas versus the Kroger that has the desired verbiage is ridiculous!
All of these antics above were the main foundations for my family completely tossing away the Christmas observance altogether. There is such a negative connotation with the holiday anymore. It's too commercialized. You are supporting sweat shops. Kids are not appreciating what they are given. You aren't showing enough respect to Christ. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Now we enjoy a gift giving celebration on the 1st of every year. It makes sense that with a new year beginning, one should get a few new things and look back on accomplishments from the previous year while looking ahead to what is in store during the next.