An Atheist at Christmas

holly-leaves-assisted-living-kingmanSo, it’s that time of year again. The supposed celebration of the birth of Jesus and the center-point of Christian ritual. It’s the time that people are supposed to be good to one another, forgive others’ minor misdemeanors, and share the joy and glory of the season. So what does it mean to an atheist like me?

Christmas itself doesn’t matter at all to me; it has no more significance (other than an always welcome day off work!) than any other day. That said, I have no problem wishing everyone a “Happy Christmas” and I do. (Note — I dislike the whole “happy holidays” thing — it’s Christmas.). I send gifts and cards, like everyone else, and I eat and drink too much… just like everyone else 🙂 . I actually quite enjoy Christmas in fact. The only parts I really dislike are the fakery and the ridiculous over-commercialism.

We usually put our tree and decorations up on Christmas Eve. Don’t know why, it just seems nice to do that after we’ve both finished work and can relax for the holidays. It’s good though because it helps extend the Christmas day special feeling. Some people start celebrating Christmas in November it seems, and by the time Christmas actually comes around they’re so tired of it that they take everything down the day after, which just seems weird to me.

The real day of celebration for me though is New Year, in a nod back to the original Pagan celebration of the Winter solstice, marking the end of one year and the beginning of a new one. There’s always something a little bitter-sweet to that moment, the reflection on the year gone by and the start of a new year with all its hopes. We usually enjoy a ribald Viking-like celebration shared with friends, with much merriment, drinking, and laughter. Fireworks are a must! And the next day is always a long hike to “blow the cobwebs away.”

We love to watch traditional Christmas movies and have a number of favorites that always get dusted off at some point over the holidays, often accompanied by a glass or two of wine or Baileys. Here are a few that make the Kelly list:

Christmas Vacation – How can you have Christmas without the Greaseballs (errr Griswalds…)

Scrooged – Bill Murray and the gang updating the classic, just don’t crowd him in an elevator…

It’s a Wonderful Life – James Stewart in this sentimental tale of the man who finds out what life would have been like if he hadn’t lived.

Night Of The Meek – Sheriff “Bat” Campbell discovers the Christmas spirit in true Twilight Zone style

The Shop Around The Corner – another classic featuring James Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as two employees who secretly fall in love with each other without realizing.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles – Thanksgiving rather than Christmas, but who could miss this classic performance by John Candy and Steve Martin.

Father Ted Christmas Special – If you’ve never watched this brilliant British series go find it now. It’s fecking brilliant!

As you can see by my choices, I’m a bit of an old softie underneath this callous, curmudgeonly exterior.

And of course the real joy of Christmas for me is being able to share extra time with my beautiful wife, Hilary. Wine, walks in the snow, cuddling in bed, some of the moments that make every day special, not just Christmas.

Let me finish by wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas, whatever your beliefs. Remember there are many people in the world much worse off than we are and let’s hope for a better year, for everyone.

And of course, Bah Humbug! 😉



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