As soon as Thanksgiving is behind us, it's seem that some people are quick to remind others of the "reason for the season." I don't mind it, really. For those people and their families, Christmas holds a very strong religion connotation and celebrating means celebrating their religion. That's beautiful and they deserve to experience the holiday season any way they want, but my partner and I have our reasons why we keep religion out of our holiday celebrations. Honestly, it would be nice for others to respect those reasons as passionately as I respect their reasons for going on about Jesus in the manger.
Despite growing up in the church the majority of my child and adolescent life, I don't find a "reason for the season" outside of spending time with the people I love, reminding them that I do love them, and making an even greater effort to be kind and giving to others. We don't cut down and decorate a tree to show we're Christians and we don't attend a Christmas Eve service to remind ourselves of Jesus Christ and his miraculous birth. Even before but especially now that we have a child, my partner and I have made a conscious effort to separate the holiday season from any kind of organized religion. It's not a "war on Christmas." It's not to intentionally offend Christians. It's not a slight to the religion I no longer associate myself with. It's, honestly, just what my partner and I both believe is best for our son and our family.
Many of our family members don't necessary understand and many of our friends definitely don't agree, but just like weaving religion into the holiday season works for them and their families, cutting religion out of the holiday seasons works for me and mine. Here are just a few reasons why:
I Want My Son To Decide About Religion For Himself
I want my son to feel free to make his own choices when it comes to spirituality and/or religion. If we made the holiday season about the traditions of one specific organized religion, my son might feel pressured to adhere to those traditions, never questioning them for himself until, perhaps, it's too late. Deciding what to believe and what kind of organized religion he wants to adhere to (if any) or what set of spiritual beliefs resonate with him the most, is a personal decision that he — and only he — should make, when he is ready and when he can comprehend the complexity of it all.
Giving To Others Shouldn't Be Conditional
I don't want my son to give to others or volunteer his time to the less fortunate because, "That's what Jesus would do." I want him to give to others and volunteer his time to the less fortunate because it is the right thing to do. While many organized religions — especially during the holiday season — carve out time to give back to their communities, I often time see that giving come with a threatening fine print, along the lines of, "This is what it takes to get into heaven."
I Don't Want One Religious Celebration To Keep My Son From Learning About Other Religious Celebrations
Because most religious individuals are very passionate about their specific set of beliefs, they don't branch out to learn about other religions and their ways of celebrating the holiday season. Especially as adults, it is very easy to become narrow-minded and stuck in one's own way of doing things. I don't want that for my son. I want him to learn about Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and the Winter Solstice and, yes, even Festivus. I work hard so that my son can expand his horizons and take in the world and all it has to offer, as possible. That includes religion and the plethora of holiday celebrations.
Honestly, I Just Want To Relax
Call me lazy or unmotivated or everything in between, but when the shopping is done and the decorating is finished, I just want to relax with my family. I want to cuddle up on the couch, watch Christmas movies, and enjoy a hot cup of something alcoholic, instead of shuffling off to a holiday church service and standing next to a bunch of people. The holiday season is a time to wrap your arms around family and friends, and that is exactly what I intend to do.
We Enjoy The Inclusive Spirit Of The Holidays, And Don't Want Religion To Divide It
The thing I love most about the holiday season is how inclusive it really can be. The spirit of that "magical time of year" can bring people together, from all walks of life and with all kinds of religious beliefs, and we don't want religion to end up dividing our family from another. Of course, some of that is out of our control and we know that because we don't make Christmas about religion, others won't agree with our way of celebrating, but we love the idea of Muslims, Christians, Jews, Atheists, Pagans, and anyone else coming together in the spirit of giving and family and happiness.
At the end of the day, a Christmas tree is just a tree we took the time to decorate, and our presents are just tokens of our love and appreciate for those we care so deeply for. Taking religion out of Christmas creates a more magical, inclusive, enjoyable time for me and my family.