I have a love-hate relationship with the hell that is the winter holiday season. On one side you have beautiful music, family gatherings, comforting traditions, and pie. On the other hand you have family drama, financial stress, winter weather, and trying to live up to everyone's expectations. I have found that the holiday season can be especially difficult to navigate if you don't believe in God. And as an atheist, I feel confident saying there are quite a few things us atheist moms want you to know about the holidays.
Toward the top of that list, I believe, is the knowledge that, yes, atheist moms feel holiday stress. It's true that I don't have to celebrate, but it's also true that my family doesn't live in a vacuum. Instead, we live in a society that tends to go overboard this time of year. So, unless my partner and I decided to raise our children on an atheist commune with no access to the outside world (which, I'll admit, is appealing at times), it's inevitable that my kids will grow up with Santa Claus, Christmas trees, and an expectation of presents on December 25. And I didn't grow up in isolation either, so even though I'm atheist I've came to love the cultural aspects of the holiday, and continue celebrating them, just sans the religious parts.
For the majority of the year being an atheist mom is no big deal, but around Christmas it can feel as though people want to take my secular kids to church. My children have come home from school asking me to tell them all about Jesus, and I've been the mom complaining about her kid coloring nativity scenes at preschool and being forced to sit on Santa's lap. I've been labeled as "weird," and I've helplessly watched as other parents kept their children from playing with mine. I mean, how do I explain the aforementioned to my child? Badly, apparently, because I was stumbling over the words "it's OK to be different" while trying not to cry.