The only time I regret having told people that I am an atheist is around Christmas time. This is because short of going to mass, I celebrate Christmas full tilt. We have the tree, the stockings, the lights, the ornaments, the holiday cards and, of course, the presents. Friends who otherwise know me to be non-religious are confused by my embrace of a thoroughly religious holiday.
They simply don’t understand how I can call my tree a “Christmas” tree. I mean, “Christmas” is a religious term, right? It’s Christ’s birthday, so by calling my tree a Christmas tree, I’m essentially saying that I celebrate the Christ’s birth. This isn’t why I have a Christmas tree, though, much as I wouldn’t want to cheat the man out of his birthday celebration. I have a Christmas tree because ever since I can remember, we’ve have had a Christmas tree. When I was a wee little Miss Y, my parents were Catholic and we had the tree (along with mass, the advent calendar, all of it). Even after they became disillusioned with the Vatican, they still put up a tree every year.
I don’t want to be one of those prickly atheists who insist on celebrating Winter Solstice just to show everyone how non-religious they are. I don’t want to set that example for my kid. I want him to come to know all of the various traditions so that he can decide on his own which ones he wants to follow, or not. And, I really love the tree. It has ornaments dating back to when I was a little one and ornaments that Mr. X and I have gathered on our travels. It has animal ornaments and now, of course, Rex ornaments. It is a brightly lit museum of our lives that we get to share with each other and Rex. It also happens to be put up around Christmas.
Perhaps the most important question of all is, where else would we put the presents?