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December 22, 2012

Finding my own reason for the season

The Christmas wars are raging unabated this year, as well-meaning Christians remind us that “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

All quibbling about Pagan traditions aside, I acknowledge that this is, basically, true. But part of me cringes every time I see that phrase. Because, for me, Jesus has nothing to do with the celebration I will take part in on Dec. 25.

I will be the first to admit that there is something a little bit weird about an atheist celebrating Christmas. I have given it a lot of thought over the years, and have come to the conclusion that it simply defies analysis.

Sure, it might not make a lot of sense for me to sing “Glory to the newborn king” while I trim the Christmas tree. But that’s what’s going to happen. (I’m speaking figuratively here, since two dogs plus one baby equals no way a tree’s going up in my house this year.)

I grew up in a completely secular household. I was never baptized, never attended a church service and what I knew of the Bible came from a story book, curiously enough, in my (Jewish) doctor’s waiting room. Don’t be offended, but to me, the stories I read in that book were no different than the stories in my book of Greek myths. They informed me culturally and historically, but didn’t resonate personally. 

But our family’s Christmas celebrations were pretty normal. There was a tree, lights, presents, stockings and a big meal. Some years we had an Advent calendar with chocolates behind each door. Every year, my sister and I would get out my grandmother’s collection of angel figurines and arrange them on the mantle. The Nativity figurines my other grandmother had brought back from a trip to Mexico were set up on the bookshelf.

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