Why I celebrate Christmas even though I’m not Christian
The Christmas season is here!
For me this means buying presents, putting up decorations, baking, and spending time with family.
For others, it also means going to festivals, participating in Church activities, and more. Or, it may mean celebrating an entirely different holiday, or no holiday at all.
I, for one, no longer find it strange or hold it against anyone who didn't want to celebrate Christmas. Celebrating during the holidays is a personal choice, though I used to find it weird when people didn't do it. At one of my old jobs, I had a co-worker who was a Jehovah's Witness, and she didn't celebrate any holidays at all. I found it particularly strange that they didn't even celebrate Easter or Christmas since they do believe in Jesus Christ and recognize him as the Son of God, so when Christmas came around, I asked her why she didn't celebrate.
Her answer was simple: “We don't believe there needs to be a special day to recognize God or Jesus or give presents. We pray every day, and I give presents to my son and my family whenever I want to.”
I have to admit that her answer really made me think. A lot of people scoff at Jehovah's Witnesses, at their door-to-door tactics and their refusal to celebrate holidays, but what she said did speak to me on a certain level. Why did we need special days to spend time with our families, to give presents, and to commune with our faith? Was my outlook on this whole thing just plain wrong?
To slam the point home further, I remember going on Facebook later that month and commenting on some Christmas-bashing discussion that was going on. When I mentioned that I celebrate Christmas, someone fired back at me, “Why do you celebrate a holiday that belongs to a religion you don't even believe in? That seems stupid to me.”
Yes, it's true, I'm not a Christian. And it's also true that I don't worship any God, though I am a spiritual person and do believe in a higher power (and for the record, I do believe that Jesus existed and he did some wonderful things). And I also do agree that we shouldn't need a special reason to spend time with our families and give gifts to one another. I buy things for my boyfriend and for friends and family throughout the year without any special reason, usually just because I see something I think they might like and if I can afford to get it I buy it for them. And yet, I still celebrate Christmas despite these things.
So, why? Why do I celebrate a holiday that belongs to a religion I don't believe in?
The truth is, I think people need holidays like Christmas more than we'd like to acknowledge.
As an introvert and a semi-workaholic, I don't get out much. I don't see many people other than my boyfriend and his children whom we live with. I talk to my mother on the phone (who lives on the other side of the country) a couple times a week, and I talk to my father, stepmother and my sister even less though they live maybe 40 minutes away. It isn't that I don't love them, or they don't love me, or even that I don't see them every so often. But we're all busy living our lives, taking care of business, and chasing our dreams whenever possible.
We all have our own lives, and it's important that we live them. But we often get so wrapped up in our projects and our problems that we neglect our loved ones. Our families have a huge part in shaping who we are, and yet as we grow and live and learn, many of us don't connect with them as often as we should.
Honestly, we should all take the time to visit our families more often. To come over for dinner, to play and laugh and talk and enjoy each others company. To give each other things as we are so inclined because it makes the other person happy, or because we see something we think they'd like or need. I don't consider myself the kind of person who will give the shirt off my back for someone else, but I love buying and giving presents to people for any reason, far more than I enjoy receiving presents myself, and I think people should make a practice of it more often. Even if it's true that people tend to get uncomfortable when you buy them things for no reason, simply because they then feel obligated to get something for you.
But the fact is, we don't do these things. Maybe the purpose of Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus, just other holidays throughout the year have the purpose to honor some other deity or saint or important person. But the reason I celebrate Christmas is to honor the tradition of family. To take the time to appreciate my friends and loved ones, and to really make them feel appreciated for all the good they've brought into my life.
Sure, I could make up my own holiday if I wanted to do that, or just pick some other holiday entirely. I know people who celebrate New Years instead of Christmas and just have their family dinners and exchange gifts then. But my mother's half of the family is Christian, and we've been celebrating Christmas for a long time, so why change now?
If you're the kind of person who visits their family and friends often, who shares lots of special moments with them throughout the year and needs no convention or excuse to do so, then you don't need holidays. But if you're like me, a person who gets so wrapped up with their own life that they don't see their friends and family often, then the holidays are important. They're a reminder to me to reconnect, to rekindle old bonds and enjoy new ones. And they're a reminder to a lot of other people, too.
So, to all the cynics out there who want to know why I celebrate Christmas, I do it out of love. Not love for Jesus, but love for all the people in my life.
If that's not worth an Amen, I don't know what is.