But I was loathe to deny myself and my kids all the fun memories that Christmas had brought me as a kid. I didn't want to give up cutting down the tree and decorating it and the house and all the baking. I didn't want to give up watching our traditional movies. I didn't want to give up the anticipation, the gift-wrapping, the Christmas-day food. Besides, so much of Christmas really comes from various pagan and pre-Christian cultures, none of which I'd ever believed in, so maybe it didn't matter?
And then Ryan showed me this video, which a friend of ours had posted:
Tim Minchin touches on all the reasons I wanted to keep doing Christmas. The reality is that the traditions, the baking, the carols, the decorating, the gift-giving, and most of all, the people - these were always what made Christmas, for me anyway. Watching this video helped me realize I wasn't alone in wanting to celebrate Christmas even though I don't believe the Jesus story. It might mean something different to me than to my religious friends, but what it means to me is valuable and worth continuing to celebrate.
So, what does our secular Christmas look like? Pretty much like our religious Christmas did, just minus the Jesus. We still bake and put up a tree and give gifts. We do Santa, but not over the top (it's a good exercise in critical thinking for kids). Sometimes I put out my nativity because it's pretty, sometimes I don't. We go sing the songs, even though the "lyrics are dodgy", because we like how the music sounds. And we include our kids in these things because it's part of Christmas for us and we want to share that with them.