Q: I know Christmas is still some weeks away, but I’m already getting uptight about it. It’s always such a hectic time and we always end up spending far more than we planned to. To be honest, I don’t really enjoy Christmas any more, although I know I ought to. Any suggestions? — C.M.
A: My suggestion is to only participate in the Christmas related activities that bring you joy. This is a joyous time of year for many people, but a large number of these feel obligated to do too many things. If others give you grief for not baking your famous cookies or buying gifts for distant relatives (or any other perceived obligation), politely inform them that you want to enjoy the holiday season without placing undue stress on yourself or your budget. This action may even prompt your family and friends to realize the escalating obligations they hold themselves to, and to take similar action in subsequent years.
Even though I am an atheist, I enjoy celebrating Christmas. I don’t go to church or pray to baby Jesus, but I do enjoy putting up a Christmas tree, playing Santa for my children, listening to Christmas carols, visiting and exchanging gifts with family and friends, and partaking in our family’s traditional holiday meals and customs. However, I only do what I want and feel no obligation to do any more. Some may say that I can’t celebrate Christmas as an atheist because “Jesus is the reason for the season”. However, celebration of the winter solstice has been observed by many cultures throughout human history. These cultures included monotheistic, polytheistic, and secular systems. The Christmas that most Americans (even Christians) celebrate is very secular anyway. There is nothing biblical about Santa Claus, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, Christmas trees, eggnog, poinsettias, etc.
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