What does a faithless Christmas look like?

I’ve always been curious about how the faithless approach Christmas and the December holidays in general. Is Christmas not a rather confusing time for atheists? I mean, not being invited to a Christmas party because if you don’t believe then it doesn’t exist? Do their children not get presents as their parents have rejected any religious sentiment associated with the period? Do atheist kids kindly excuse themselves from participating in school Christmas concerts?

Are atheists just blasé to the meaning of it all and go along cooking turkeys, putting up trees and sing songs because they have a great tune and not for the messages in the song words?

Now I know there are extremes on both end of the non-believer scale (as with every other social spectrum) – on a scale from 1-to-Richard Dawkins then, what does a non-meaningful Christmas look like then?

On another spectrum – some will argue that Christmas isn’t Christmas if you don’t celebrate the whole hog related to your religion. But that’s just the thing isn’t it? Your religion is what you choose. Same applies to others with different views and opinions.

Alain de Botton wrote: “The wisdom of the faiths belongs to all of mankind, even the most rational among us, and, throughout the liturgical year, deserves to be selectively reabsorbed. Religions are intermittently too useful, effective and intelligent to be abandoned to the religious alone.” His book Religion For Atheists is available at most bookstores.

My friend of over 20 years is an Atheist. This is Charles Bosman’s story:

Charles Bosman and his family

I am a 40 year old from East London in South Africa (“Slummies” for the well-informed), happily married with one gorgeous 18 month old daughter . My parents and elder sister also live in East London.

I am self employed with a few small businesses .

When I was born my folks were (and still are Methodists) so I guess I was raised in the Christian faith . I rejected Christianity at about 16 years of age as I was unable to rationalize the glaring discrepancies in the Christian teachings with the facts I was reading about in school and for myself in science literature .

Christmas is special for my family as my wife is a Christmas maniac! She is a rather reluctant Anglican who really gets into the spirit of the holidays which is pretty cool considering what the secularized version of Christmas is these days . Goodwill to all men etc . I don’t really celebrate Christmas or any other religious holiday and whether its Christian or another religion is of no consequence to me .

Kids get presents! My daughter will be raised in my wife’s faith and given all the real facts by me as and when necessary. She can make her own choice when she’s old enough. Christmas for her is just one big fat present unwrapping fest!

On Christmas Day we usually meet with extended family , eat and drink too much and resolve to not overdo it, again, the following year.

Thank you Charles for sharing your story with me and allowing me to publish it here on my blog.

I learnt a couple of things from Charles through his story:

  • Whether you believe, and what you believe in, are really of no consequence if you don’t choose to use your religious weapon of choice to reduce another person’s importance and value.
  • Atheists may not share in the Christian-based aspects of Christmas, but the holidays are holidays and are to be enjoyed by all as good family bonding time.

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