bogeyandruby

Random stuff, reflections on the meaning of life and death, humour, self-deprecation, a bit of bad poetry.

A couple of months ago I was asked what my plans were for Christmas. When I didn’t give the expected answer, I was told, “But you’re not even Christian, why would it matter to you?”. It was statement rather than query, coming from someone who, ironically, is not Christian either, but who can at least claim to have a religion.

Those words, whether by intention or not, prickled, stirring up familiar feelings of exclusion and hurt. They implied that first-world, modern-day Christmas celebrations are only about the birth of Christ, and as such, only those people invited to the baby shower need attend subsequent birthday parties. In other words, I don’t get a say on where I want to be and who I want to spend Christmas with even though I have a tree up in my house and presents under the tree and a son who is Protestant ( but thinks he’s Catholic) and the same stat holidays as everyone else.

Let me be clear, my mother is Christian and my father is not. Dad tried to teach us his religion but the words weren’t in a language we could understand, and being a pragmatic and logical man, he soon stopped trying. As a compromise, because that is the best way to get along when there are profound differences in a culturally-mixed marriage, we kids were raised in a secular household, celebrating most of the Christian holidays while respecting some of the Sikh traditions, picking and choosing the good parts and leaving out the bits that made us uncomfortable.

I know enough about the story of Christmas to be able to name all the main characters involved. Indeed, back when the schools were divided by religion (Catholic and Protestant, no less) it was difficult to avoid these stories. As a kid, I made gold-painted macaroni crosses at Brownie camp, read Gideon’s pocket bible on a family vacation, sang the Lord’s Prayer along with Sister Janet Mead, hung on to every lyric in Jesus Christ Superstar, and even attended Sunday school (my own initiative) at the local Salvation Army Church down the street from my parents’. I celebrated every single Christmas both spiritually and commercially, bought presents for everyone with my own money, and learned about the true meaning of Christmas from Charlie Brown.

Somewhere along the way, I got tired of being asked what tribe I was from. I grew weary of being welcomed as a “non-believer” at Church services. I avoided attending the “You People Who Come Once A Year” sermons. I couldn’t relate to the hypocrisy, dividing lines, or righteousness of organized religion but I still wanted to embrace the compassionate, community-oriented parts of it.

I don’t wish to come across as disrespectful to those who do practice their religion faithfully. In times of difficulty I wish I had a god to pray to. It just isn’t in me. Or maybe it is. Something is.

Years ago, I developed a friendship with a former patient who happened to be an eighty-six year old Dominican nun. She once said to me “You’re such a good person, I can’t believe you aren’t Catholic!”. I replied, “You don’t have to be Catholic to be a good person.” You also don’t have to be Christian to appreciate the significance of this time of year, in all its glory and its heartbreak.

So yes, it does matter to me. Thanks for asking.

I’d like to take the opportunity to extend best wishes to my faithful readers, all nine of you.

Oh, and Merry Christmas to the rest of you, including the good, non-Catholics out there.

S ❤

12 thoughts on “Non-Christian Christmas

  1. Lorianne says:

    Lovely. You create your own traditions and your own holiday warmth in whichever way feels good for you and yorn. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Merry Christmas and a very happy New Year!

    Like

  2. Boy Blue says:

    \”I wouldn't want to be a member of any club that would have me as a member\”-Groucho MarxSharon, you exhibit more Christian values than most pew warmers.

    Like

  3. Bonnie says:

    Enjoy your holiday time Sharon…. I don't subscribe to a \”religion\” but I am a caring and loving person…to me that makes me just a good Christian. So what ever faith people are…if you have a good heart, then that's what's most important! You have one of the kindest hearts I know!

    Like

  4. Thanks for your words, Bonnie. I really missed not having a religion growing up but came to terms with it later on. If it is about being a good person, then we'll be okay. Merry Christmas, my friend. Thenks for wll your support. xox

    Like

  5. micko says:

    Bravo! I still think you should write a book!

    Like

  6. shuehorn says:

    I love your take on so many things, Sharon. Merry, merry to you!!

    Like

  7. How about writing a blog? 😉

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  8. Thanks for reading and for your kind words, Sue. Merry, merry! xo

    Like

  9. Abby says:

    So I guess I'm number 10! I love your writing and think you are very special! I wish you and Ian and Sean a wonderful holiday celebration, whatever and however you choose to do it. Enjoy!

    Like

  10. Thanks so much for being in our lives, Abby, and for your kind words. We love you! xo

    Like

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