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Monday, December 12, 2011

They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.

We need a new Virginia. We need the question to be asked again, and we need an editor to tell us the actual truth, again.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished. Entire editorial here>>>

Of course many would say that the editor was merely out to get readers, that he works for a dirty corporation and that he only wants you to buy more stuff.

Being in the Heartland, we are not told we can not say Merry Christmas to everyone we see. That we should  be offended that the complete stranger doesn't know we are not Christian. We reply Merry Christmas and a Happy Yule.  Or Merry Christmas and a Happy Chanukah. Or Merry Christmas. The media tells us that it is wrong, but we are a hard headed bunch with thick skin. It takes more than a wishful nicety to lay us on the floor bleeding.

In our neighborhood, everywhere I look, it's Christmas and it's Hanukkah. Or a Scrooge.   Christmas means different things to different people. We do take issue with crucifying Santa Clause, but not a baby in a manger. We take the boys out to see the lights. One house has Santa and reindeer, the next has a nativity and angels and the next a Menorah . But it seems like many have forgotten what Christmas in America is about.

When we read news and opinions online, we tend to forget what is happening in our neighborhood.  That our neighbors get along, and enjoy the season for what it means to them. So many different traditions for Christmas have melded together over the years. Instead we see articles written about how Christians hijacked a holiday from pagans. Then the same writers turning around and writing about how corporate America is to blame for the commercialization of Christmas. We read how America is no longer a melting pot, it's a salad bowl, and that we should allow people to have their own traditions without acclimatizing to American traditions, yet the same writer turns around and says how Christmas should be banned.

Christmas and Christian bashing is the new hot sport. You see it everywhere, online, on tv and in newspapers. But I look around my neighborhood, my closest town. And they celebrate Christmas, or Yule, or Chanukah in harmony. They greet each other with a Merry Merry. They have lights up depicting what this time of year means to them.

Christians should be allowed to celebrate Christmas. Christian faith says you should witness to other's.  Christmas nativity scenes are part of that witnessing. If we ban that we should also ban, sufganiyah ( if you do I am coming after you), or the feasts and gift giving involved in Yule, Flashing lights, tinsel and colorful hanging ornaments used to celebrate Pancha Ganapati, or charitable giving (feeding the poor) as preformed by the rotating date of Eid al-Adha, and ban friends and family from gathering together to eat, drink as celebrating Shab-e Yaldâ dictates.

This is news to many of you, but old news to the long time readers, I am not a Christian. And I find no offense in Christmas. Small and Medium have been telling me that Christmas is Jesus' birthday. I say, yes, yes it is! I do not say otherwise. That is not my place in my children's life. No matter what I believe, it is not my place to take that away from them. I want my boys to grow up like my mother taught me. That no matter what your faith, you should be respectful to other's faith, and that you should seek out what is right for you. Not naysay or attack. Just last night, I read the story of the Birth of Jesus to my youngest boys. And no, I do not put the same importance on Santa as I do Jesus.

We need to remind ourselves that Christmas is a time to remember our neighbors. To celebrate the birth of a child and Mōdraniht (mother night) celebrating a divine mother. hmm. . sound familiar?  So many things the same, yet the mud keeps getting flung.

As a devout atheist, my mother taught me the respect and appreciation of those around us. As a born again evangelical Christian, my mother taught me to love the sinner, not the sin. Lessons that should be taught across the board.

Our neighborhood celebrates Christmas in many ways, and the Grinches stay online.


Mamma Bear said...

Great post Phelan..It is great that you are allowing your boys to follow their own path. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Phelan said...

I think following their own hearts is very important. and Merry Christmas to you too!

(and just for the record, I am no longer an atheist, and haven't been for a very long time.)

Felinae said...

Excellent post, Phelan.

Catman and I have also decided to let B's follow/choose her own path. She knows we are going to support her no matter what path/paths she chooses. In my opinion she's turning out just fine, she's an independent, well rounded individual and that's not such a bad way to be. :)

Have a great day,

Michelle said...

Well said, my friend!

TransFarmer said...

great post, well said. I just got booted from a friend's fb because of something similar. She was upset that her company asked their employees to say "Happy Holidays" during this time instead of "Merry Christmas". She put up a rant about Christmas being an American tradition and a bunch of other ill-informed stuff. When I pointed out that there were other holiday celebrations that weren't Christmas, and Happy Holidays covers everything, she accused me of trying to take away her rights and then unfriended me.

No big loss to lose someone with such a small minded view.

On a separate note, do the boys like Bakugan toys? I happen to have two sets that I think small and medium might like.

Basic Humanity said...

It's really nice to read about atheists being happy for others to celebrate. It seems to often they are portrayed as evil... although sometimes they actually do say stupid mean things about religious folk. But sure religious folk sometimes say stupid mean things too.

If someone wishes me Merry I say it back. It's just sharing the joy they feel. And sure if I have a Jewish friend I'm hardly going to wish them happy Christmas instead of happy Hannukah. They could wish me happy Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy whatever as long as it's happy.
As long as no one is attempting to force their views on anyone else I think it's all cool. Let people celebrate as they wish.
I do think it's cool you're letting your boys discover their own path... I had to just delete tonnes of what I'd written as it was forming it's own blog post in your comments. :S
Anyway, Happy Christmas.

MamaHen said...

Great post! I had been formulating a similar post in my head because I have just gotten SO sick of all this bitching about Christmas. And most of it from non-religious people who demand their views be respected but want to talk trash about what everybody else believes. You are right; Christian bashing has become the new sport. Glad to see someone else recognize that.

Phelan said...

Just to be clear, I am no longer an atheist, however I keep my faith close to me and do not broadcast it on the internet. I would never be good at witnessing.

I have been finding myself getting upset with modern atheists. I feel they are mommy issues more than issues with Christians. Growing up in an atheist household, we had Christmas trees and celebrated the holiday, we even sang Christian Christmas Carols!

As for saying Happy Holiday at work, that is up to the business. If that's what they want you to do, it shouldn't be too big of a deal, you can say Merry Merry when you are not getting paid by someone else. (and my boys love bakugans)

I have Jewish friends that tell people Merry Christmas, that tell everyone Merry Christmas and Happy Hanuka in greeting. To be honest, everyone I know, no matter the religion, say it and are happy about it.

Laura said...

Yeah, I'm not into Christmas or Christianity, at all.
I like the lights on the houses, though.

Yart said...

I absolutely love this post. Mouthy wants us to celebrate Hanukkah next year. She came to me with the idea. I think that it is a great learning experience. Maybe this will become a tradition of learning about other festivals of the sun.

Phelan said...

Yart, funny, a Jewish friend of mine just recommended Hanukkah in a box.

Laura, I feel the same about Valentine's Day

Carolyn said...

Nice though-provoking post. We grew up going to a Catholic school, but Mom was a Methodist. Now live in Baptist country. DH nor I are practicing Christians, but still say Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, etc. No need to bash or undermind another's holiday just because you think you should be offended. It's going to be interesting raising our daughter in such a religious-mixed environment.

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