Seasonal Musings

25 Dec

So the Christmas season is great for at least one thing: making me suck at posting anything on my blog. I’ve been so run around with my hair on fire shopping, cooking and gift-wrapping that the internet has been sorely neglected. Hello internet. I’m sorry that I’ve been ignoring you in favour of knitting, shopping and Bioshock 2 (which I beat last night at about one AM. It was awesome). I missed you.

Christmas is always an odd time for me and my family. My parents, who are rather rabid about family time during the holidays, tend to pull out as many stops as they can get away with without being tacky (which means a well-decorated, real fir tree, multiple nativity sets and enough cookies to feed a really hyper army). My sister and I return from wherever we’ve been for the last few weeks (England in her case, my apartment in mine) and assist in the gift-giving and cooking frenzy.

You think I’m kidding? As I type my mother is covering a 12 pound turkey in butter and is about to wrap it in bacon. Yes world, sometimes I regret vegetarianism. Sometimes.

The gifts have all been unwrapped at this point. Most of my gifts these days are clothes, since I’m a 23-year-old and my mother knows I hate like hell to shop for clothes. Or anything else for that matter (except books. I can shop for books like it’s going out of style). However, my parents are also contributing a kind sum of money to help my purchase a brand spanking new laptop, which I will track down on the internet like an overexcited five year old and then bounce up and down in front of the mailbox for.

Of course, the best gift I’ve gotten this year was from my ever-awesome boyfriend (who I gave Fable III for Christmas; he hasn’t stopped playing it since), who gave me this:

Does he know me or what? Finally, a companion cube I don’t have to incinerate. Talk about holiday cheer.

The most challenging part of holiday seasons for me is that Church Thing. My family is Catholic, and I, for lack of a better descriptor, am rather not. I’ve considered myself a comfortable Agnostic-Pastafarian-Skeptic for the last few years now, and this makes attending church on the high side of unpleasant. I never go of my own accord; I spend my Sundays sleeping in in favor of being told by a man in a dress that his big Sky Daddy in the clouds has deemed that I will go to hell unless I vote Republican (yes, this happened. Welcome to the Midwest).

Not all Catholics are bad. Not all Christians are bad, in face many of them are kind, reasonable and pleasant human beings I don’t want to stab in the face with a salad fork. It just depends on where you are, and around here, there’s a pretty heavy amount of extremism. Example? The Catholic student group on campus likes to picket outside the local Planned Parenthood. Just saying.

Being Catholic is a lot like being Jewish to me; you just celebrate different holidays with different food and you intersperse your conversation with Latin instead of Yiddish. That and we don’t get cool hats. So part of me still accepts catholicism as a part of the way I was raised. I went to Catholic School for ten years as a kid, though that did little more than turn me into a near-atheist and have a healthy dislike of school uniforms.

That said, my least favorite part of the holidays, and by extension the catholicism, is the Guilt Trip. Catholic Guilt is unprecedented in religious belief systems – ask any Catlicker you know and they can tell you about it, even if they aren’t part of the church any more. Catholic Guilt is used by parents and grandparents alike to crush the younger generations of their family to convince them to do everything from go to church at Christmas to take out the trash to get married to someone you hate.

It’s a time-honored tradition, and one that my family holds up with no regret. Every Christmas I find myself attending a Christmas church service with my father, mother and sister, where I sit and try not to burst into flames or kick the fussy small children in front of me (and there are ALWAYS small children in a Catholic church). A small price to pay for avoiding a scene I guess (my mother, when I bring up my non-theism, always insists that it’s a ‘phase’ I’m going through and that when I’m older and ready to start a family and get married i’ll come back to the church. This is something we disagree on at a deep, fundamental level, and will not be resolved any time soon, and I want to put off the inevitable explosion for as many years as I possibly can), and I did get a lot of knitting done this year during the service, and now I don’t have to set foot in a religious building until next Easter.

Regardless, it’s a difficult way of life. Not to pity-party it, there are far worse things to be in America than Agnostic. The way some people feel about Muslims in this country, I’m hardly in a dangerous minority. But it’s still rough, especially since for a country that claims a freedom of religion, the government can be rather hard on people who aren’t at all spiritual (link via Blag Hag). Apparently freedom of religion doesn’t include freedom of NO religion. Who knew?

I’m not saying other people can’t enjoy this day as the birth of their Lord Jesus (even though it’s historically factual that Jesus was born in March and they shifted his birthday to accommodate the pagan conversion back in the day. So sayeth my Classics Professor, who is also an Episcopal minister and a total badass). That’s their prerogative, and I invite them to do so. Go ahead. I’ll never stop you. Just let me enjoy my cozy skeptic corner over here?

I may be a godless heathen, but that doesn’t make me a bad person. Actually, I’m really quite a nice person. I buy people gifts at Christmas. I’m no Scrooge – no humbugs here, just cheesy grins and piles of cookies. I give to charity. I love others. I’m not a dick to random strangers, not even if they’re a dick to me first. I live a morally upright existence without the doctrines of a religion or faith poking me in my head with the threat of eternal damnation. That doesn’t make me better, it just makes me different. Different and deserving of respect just like the rest of you.

So that’s my Christmas Spiel. Christmas started out as a Christian conversion mechanism, and now it’s a corporate playground that encourages greed and malice along with love and joy. Everyone loves or hates it for a different reason, but the important thing is the love thing. Call me a dirty hippie, but that’s what it’s all about. Not presents. Not commercialism. Not santa. Not even Jesus. It’s about family. Friends. Giving people shit they don’t need but they appreciate anyway because effort was made. Having a day off from work. Enjoying yourself. Eating yourself into a coma. Maybe it’s a different spin on things, but welcome to being a non-believer during the holidays. Still festive, just not for the same reasons.

So merry holidaymas, blogosphere. I hope you enjoyed my seasonal ramble, and if you didn’t I still hope your Christmas is festive and full of people you enjoy being around. Also food. Food is the best part of Christmas, and you all know I’m right.

Now if you’ll all excuse me, I’m going to go knit a scarf and watch Scrooged until my Mum summons me into the kitchen to peel fifty pounds of apples.

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2 Responses to “Seasonal Musings”

  1. misanthropicverbiage December 25, 2010 at 3:44 pm #

    You make me happy, my dear. One of the few things I’m thankful for with my family– at least they aren’t religious. I’m sorry I couldn’t just kidnap you… did you actually set a choir boy on fire, as promised?

    • theinsomniakid December 25, 2010 at 3:49 pm #

      Sadly no, but I did spend the evening blowing the heads off of splicers in Bioshock 2 to counteract all the religiosity. That and I plan to drink copiously later. That should help. :3

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