To celebrate or not to celebrate, that is the question. As a nontheist, is it better to abstain from participation in all forms of religious observances? Or, is it possible to embrace the sentiment of the Christmas season without endorsing the supernatural beliefs associated with it?
I fear that it is possible to become so enamored with and restrained by our intellect that we deny ourselves the immense joy of merely experiencing life. I don’t want to wind up like Ebenezer Scrooge, sitting alone on Christmas eve eating a bit of stale bread and a small wedge of cheese while railing against the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future. Surely there is some way to join in the festivities and warmth of fellowship with family and friends with the full knowledge that it is all about community, not deity.
The Christmas story embodies some of the most profound hopes and aspirations of the human heart. It reverently affirms the sacred potential implicit in the birth of an innocent child whose destiny is one of personal sacrifice to bring about reconciliation and world peace. The significance of this was acknowledged by the learned and wealthy wise men and the lowly shepherds, alike. How different our world would be if each newborn was greeted with such anticipation and nurtured to embrace that noble mission.
So, with this perspective in mind, bring on the religious services, the choirs and flickering candles. Send the cards bearing the messages of love, joy, hope and peace. String the lights; ring the bells; erect the trees; and hang the decorations. Find meaningful ways to gather together and share the essence of the Christmas story. Drink hardily from the joy expressed in the wide-eyed anticipation of the children.
Finally, I would like to say Merry Christmas, Jesus; Merry Christmas, Tiny Tim; Merry Christmas, Ebenezer; Merry Christmas to all of my theist and nontheist family and Friends/friends; and may the universe bless us, everyone.