Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Holiday Frustrations


I am usually a quiet, passive Atheist, with a few anger flare ups here and there. (Ignorance makes me angry, though I know I suffer from it at times.) But the moms on the momslikeme.com website really frosted my cookie today.

I love this time of year. Being an Atheist doesn't take away from my love of Christmas. If anything it's added to my love Christmas and of Hanukkah and Winter Solstice. I have a new appreciation of the world around me. I have a new love of different cultures and of actual factual history.

Being an Atheist has added to the richness of this time of year for me.

Last year I still considered myself a Christian. I had 'walked' away from Mormonism the month prior, but I still believed there was a God who loved me. Celebrating Christmas last year was more of a chore than anything. We had to be out of our home on December 24th. So in order to celebrate with my immediate family, we headed the Embassy Suites in Brea, Ca. Christmas Eve was wonderful. Christmas Day was the chore. We were glad to be on the road on the 26th.

This Christmas, I figured that since I was finally intellectually free, that it would be more wonderful than ever. But having now embraced so much truth and fact, there is a new frustration that I have faced this year.

When people say 'Merry Christmas' to me, I say it back. I know what they are saying is with love of the holiday season and they are just expressing their beliefs. Beautiful. Perfect. I understand. If someone were to say 'Happy Hanukkah' or 'Happy Kwanzaa', I would return the salutation. I think most Atheists, even if it peeves them, are kind people. They wouldn't start a fight with the Salvation Army bell ringer over the wish of a Merry Christmas.

But today on my momslikeme.com website, I was honestly taken aback by the full prideful ignorance of my peers. (Fellow mothers.) The question was, "What do you say this time of year, Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays?" The majority of moms were saying that they choose to say Merry Christmas, which is no surprise. I could have guessed that. The majority of people in the States are Christian. What took me back is the blatant disregard for other peoples beliefs and feelings.

I always thought Christians said Merry Christmas out of love. I had no idea that most of these women were saying it because they didn't care what others celebrated. They felt if they say 'Happy Holidays', that they are denying their Christ. They say it because they hope the person they say it to isn't Christian, so they could 'stick it to them'. They don't give a damn if someone might be offended. Their reasons got as hurtful as name calling. They say it because the reason for the season is Jesus. The audacity!

Yeah, that sealed it. Actually, you pious, ignorant, disrespectful Christians on momslikeme.com, if you look it up, Winter Solstice is the reason for the season. Mithra, the unconquered son god, is the reason for the season. The fact that the days are cold and we gather around loved ones and the fire for warmth is the reason for the season. Earth's axial tilt being furthest from the sun is the reason for the season. In 46 BCE Julius Caesar established December 25th as Winter Solstice.

I think this is the first time that I am royally peeved about silly greetings and salutations. So these women on this website feel that Happy Holidays (Happy HOLY Days) somehow takes away from their religion. WTF?

I don't feel like saying 'Merry Christmas' takes away from my Atheism. Nor does 'Happy Hanukkah'.

I don't feel like my children lighting a Menorah and learning about someone else's culture this time of year takes away from my own culture. I don't feel like taking out the trash takes away from my femininity. What a ridiculous line of reasoning. I just don't understand.
I read something today that gave me that warm happy feeling again.
"It's always a great time of year to be an Atheist. The traditions of Christmas are almost entirely pre-christian, so that's not really a problem for us that some people are celebrating the birth of their god. We are doing what people have always done when the days are cold and dark - we look to each other for light and warmth."
That put me back in the holiday spirit!

A beautiful Seasons Greetings to all, and a Happy New Year!
On a side note, the English language is such a beautiful thing. I understand that when people say Holiday, they no longer think of Holy Day. Just like when people say sinister, they no longer think 'of the left' or left-handed. :o)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It was nice.

I took my girls to our first 'Mommy and Me' meeting down at the local Methodist church today. Yes, I am starving for human interaction so badly that I swallowed my Atheist pride to go to a church. It wasn't bad, actually it was really nice to get out and talk to other moms. Granted, they aren't aware that I don't believe in their god, as I kept my big mouth shut and I refrained from wearing my Atheism buttons and badges.

Not that they would have cared. I made sure I emailed before I showed up, asking if it was open to the public. I just viewed Atheists so negatively when I was a church goer, I feel that at least one of the moms there would have asked me to leave if they would have known.

It was the 'once a month' meeting where the kids spend the whole time in the nursery so the moms can have 2 hours of uninterrupted adult time. A few moms had their newborns with them, and for a moment before the meeting started it was like Breastfeeding Central. Over all, I had fun. My girls had fun too, they didn't want to leave. When I went to get them out of the nursery, they were dancing to 'Zoot Suit Riot'. (Maddy was spinning in circles and Katie was doing her famous 'bottom shake').

Maybe I am too used to what being Mormon means that I am having a difficult time understanding what being Christian means. Cherry Poppin' Daddies would not be a musical selection that would be playing in the background when picking up my kids from the nursery at a Mormon church. Granted, I don't know of any Mormon Wards that offer this kind of support to mothers during the day, with field trips and days that moms can drop off kids to run errands. But I am sure hymns would be playing come pick up time, if anything at all.

Maybe the term fellowship isn't the horrible thing I thought it would be. I had prepared myself to have an opening hymn, opening prayer, a bunch of talk about god and then a closing hymn and a closing prayer. In hind sight I was prepping for a Mormon gathering. They only mentioned god once while I was there, and it was only in passing. And not even in a pushy or offensive way. Have I said it was nice? Because it really was.

I think I may have to stop expecting Mormon behavior from religious people. I expected to be judged, I expected to be forced into talking about god or at least spirituality. I expected to hear my kids talking about Jesus as we walked to the car, and actually worried about doing damage control on the way home. But what I found was a group of wonderful women, all mothers, who got together on the first Wednesday of the month to share stories, exercising techniques and cookies.

It was nice. Having been with my children almost 24/7 for the past year, I can't even express how grateful I am to have found this group. I am hopeful that I may actually make a good friend. I've made friends since moving here, but a not friend that I actually go out with. A friend that I can craft with or even get my nails done with. I know it's going to be a while longer before I get to that place, but the hope is there. And that is really nice.