Taking the Christ Out of Christmas

How My Family Does the Holidays


It's the skinhead! He's back!
I loved it. Thank you!
Marcus sounds amazing.
Truly a heart warming story (and I mean that). The world would be a much better place if more people had the same level of critical thinking skills as your eight-year old.
Awesome story. Marcus is one hell of a kid. I understand why those notes upset you. I was an atheist at the age of five, despite going to a Catholic school and being raised in a Catholic family. Though I mostly kept my beliefs to myself, when I did speak about what I did and did not believe in, the "loving concern" of my classmates and teachers who would basically threaten me with tales of fire and brimstone was upsetting. Traumatizing, even. Really, that's how you try to get people on your side?

Or when the Pentecostal peers of mine were railing against Catholics, saying they would rot in hell for not believing in god the right way. I told them that I believe in none of it, but that my Busia is truly the most amazing human being I've ever met, and if there is this loving god out there, I can't imagine he'd punish her just because she goes to the wrong church. That shut them up quickly. Anyway, great piece, your son is an incredible young man, and his explanations for why things aren't real had me laugh my butt off.
@1 - Empathy much? I guess not... o_O

Solstice is more relevant IMHO, especially to us northern latitude folk. Christmas is just an excuse to not go to your job (if that's possible for you) and see your distant family or local chosen family.

IO: Amazing that your son Marcus has figured out that stuff already. He's gonna be awesome when he grows up!
What a great kid. He is a hoot and holler.
@1: How did I know that you'd be over here showing your ass?
@7: Busia! Are you Polish? We called my mom's parents Busia and Dziadzia growing up. They still spoke Polish at home, but they wouldn't teach us kids past food words and a few swears. Did your Busia make kolaczki at Christmas?
Best thing I've read on Slog in ages. Thanks!
@8 My experience was nearly identical to yours. Add to that the "going to hell" letters from the great aunts—never really bothered me, though. I was pretty damn sure of myself on this one. To help, my parents may be religious, but they knew when a relative was being a kook.
Raised Catholic, and yeah, it made no sense to me, as a kid.

Like "Damned to hell for all.eternity, if u commit murder, adultery -- or miss mass on Sunday."

Did watching mass on tv count when I was sick? or would I fry in hell if I got run over by the milkman before I confessed that particular mortal sin?

Colored slides of the damned roasting in hell that the kindly nuns projected made for nightmares, all the same (Medieval paintings, I later figured out.)

Didn't seem fair, since I had to wait for my mom to drive me to confession.

My thought at 7, during my First Holy Confession, "This is an invasion of my privacy."

Didn't seem fair that heathen babies had to go to Limbo if the hadn't been baptized before dying from whatever heathen babies died of.

Adult heathens too stubborn to become Catholics roasted (which, by implication, included Protestant friends and my father) which also didn't seem fair.

Got out at 12, which was my first chance.

Now, I too, have since had Christians threatening me with burning in hell, unless I bow down to whatever particular flavor of Christing they favor.

Those guys don't have a chance if the nuns didn't get me.

My friend told his kids that Santa is not real and whoo boy did he catch hell from the other parents when THEY told the truth to their friends.
@9 I'm a second generation Polish immigrant, and Polish on both sides. I had a Busia, Babcia, Dziadzia and Dziadzio. I'm on day three of the yearly pierogithon. Busia is still with us, but Dziadzia made the kolaczki. She makes the (shudders) sledzie.
That kid has a bright future ahead of him. Quite precocious.

Jesus Christ was a Jewish Man. He definitely was not about presents, even the gelt you get with a dreidel. Especially that.

And if you don't get that, you really aren't Christian, but a hedonist gift worshipping person. Santa loves you, so long as you make those Altars of Mammon (cash registers) ring.
First, just so my bona fides can't be questioned in making this comment: I was raised Jewish; I'm pretty much somewhere between agnostic and atheist at this point (but I still celebrate some holidays to make my mom happy. The only thing more boring than church, is church/temple in a language you can't speak); and my political leanings are relatively far to the left.

All of that being said, I despise when parents publicly drag their too-young kids into political/social/religious issues...and that's exactly what this article does. I hate when parents have their kids hold up signs of aborted fetuses; and I hate when precious little young'uns march in support of liberal causes (although I do think there's an exception for LGBT issues, simply because it's important for the public to see that family issues are involved).

It's simply not fair to the kids considering they're often to young to have made any rational decision on the matter. Maybe the author's precocious little one is the exception and he really has firmly made up his mind on the existence of god...but how about you spare him the public indoctrination into atheism just in case he changes his mind during the next 10 years.
Don't take the Xmas season so hard; in reality it is simply and end of year celebration. In ancient Rome it was called the feast of Saturnila, with emphasis on feast. Saturnila celebrated the end of the year, harvest and solstice in one big happy event that lasted several days. In households the masters and servants exchanged places; the masters now served the servants although to a limited extent; the servants did no work during the event. Sometimes the servants were give money and allowed to go out enjoy themselves, gifts were exchanged between friends; basically no work was done by anyone. When the Christian era came into being the Romans simply "religionized" the event and called it the celebration of the birth of Christ. The official Roman religion was converted to into the Catholic church; the pontifex maximus became the pope and so on. So get over the religious overtones (they are phony to begin with) and enjoy the holidays as a fun event to end the year with.
I'm with you @17. Fair point. I did enjoy the article though...
Thank you. This is a beautifully written piece. I, too am a happy atheist, but it's not been easy. When I was the target of my aggressive Christian friends in high school, I promised myself I would raise thinking, reasoning people if I got the chance to have kids. Good news - three beautiful young women and they all have good minds they use to make decisions, instead of following ancient dogma. They do get on me, though, for their lack of knowledge of bible stories. I just smile and tell them that Google (and the LOLCat Bible) are their friends. Keep up the good work - you sound like a great dad.
@17: No. There's no evidence in the article that Ijeoma indoctrinated Marcus into anything. In fact, he is what you get in the absence of religious indoctrination.
@22, perhaps "indoctrination" was the wrong word, but I think you missed the point of my post. The author is a public figure writing about atheism and the war on Christmas (relatively controversial topics), and now she has dragged her 8 year into a public forum and public debate. Regardless of what side of the debate you're on, I don't thing that's fair to children.

There's also a tone of elitism and condescension to this tactic that I find really off putting. Whenever I see this done, the message I receive is "my child is only x years old, and even he can see that (insert controversy of the week) is the right path....if you as an adult can't see that, well you must be an idiot". Hollywood also loves this false trope: the idea that kids are simply smarter than adults.

I havea 7 year old son. Sure, sometimes he says things that I find utterly brilliant and astounding. Then he misspells "may" on his spelling test.

At that age, they're works in progress, and despite their moments of brilliance, they're also generally idiots.

Anyway, this is getting to be tl;dr. Basic point: while we all want our kids to share our core beliefs, let them bake until they're at least in their teens and don't make them the subject of your controversial/public displays.
Overall the article was OK. Statements like: "wearing the expression of a scientist on the verge of a breakthrough" are such a cliche in articles that galvanize anti-religious positions.

@17;23 The author never politicized their child.
I will agree your son is a smart boy. I Have read your story and reply and honestly am shocked I mean I'm 37 have went to church on and off threw out life and that I know of I have only met 2 athiest people. Maybe I know more and don't know and when I met my first athiest we talked and I said people should feel safe to tell anyone what they believe.
I was wrong by putting these storeys out more people may turn from Jesus and then you've given them a one way ticket to hell with you.
How will you feel on judgment day when you see you precious smart successful boy before our Lord and he gets a sentence of spending eternity in hell. I'd go insane knowing becuase I did not take my family to church they were not taught what is real.
How sad I will pray for your son and family.
God bless.
You believe in hell and god and worry about other people who may not believe. I know that you are putting all your faith and effort into following and avoiding something which does not exist, and has never existed. Who is the bigger fool?