Atheism, Christianity

A Late Merry Christmas – even to none Christians

I thought it would be best to post this after Christmas lest I ruin someone’s day,even when I say nice things I seem to wreck something or other. Being an atheist who celebrates Christmas I may be looked at as a disappointment from a secular point of view; in truth most atheists I know also follow the holiday out of tradition. For me, the most important thing is to spend at least one day a year with your closest family – I don’t say all as that would be a nightmare. Giving thoughtful gifts to loved ones; drinking a silly amount of alcohol (although I drink much less than others and I’m relatively t-total all year round); trying to be a better person or at the very least trying to convince ourselves to be the person we aspire to be. That is what the season is all about for me; I can safely say I took the Christ out of Christmas many years ago.

I recently wondered how it must be for Muslims or Jews at this time of year, more so for Muslims; how can you be told all year round that your faith is the one true faith your god is the one true god, but then watch as the whole world transforms from late October to early January in a celebration that is counter to your belief? I don’t remember any time of year when the Muslim tradition takes over TV, radio, films, shops, the financial sector and eating habits of not only 2.2 billion Christians but also hundreds of millions (maybe a billion) other denominations and secularists. In this instance I do feel or Muslims, it must be a shitty time of year for them to see how powerful a religion can be when its stops forcing itself by the sword, and chooses to spread with modernisation.

Is that not a strange show of power? That even those who don’t adhere follow your traditions?

I spend my time reading A Christmas Carol and watching 3 or 4 adaptations of the same title before my run up to xmas. It isn’t Christmas time unless it begins with Marley’s ghost… It usually ends with me crying, every single year the book and in most cases the films too make me cry – it epitomises the good within us all that can be found if only we are willing to search for it.

“Are there no workhouses? No prisons?”

I probably paraphrased incorrectly, but the point is made – Scrooge was a horrible man, mankind was not his business. I always take Marley’s word as a warning for my own life, I want to reduce the size of my chains – I want to have a carefree mind and a full heart.

I have always had a weird connection to homelessness; thankfully I have never been directly affected by it. I saw a homeless person when I was very young, Christmas shopping with my mum; I moaned all day for having to wear a big coat and gloves etc, and as we passed the corner near the McDonalds by lime Street (Liverpool) I saw a man in a doorway; he had no shoes, no gloves, no coat – and he didn’t moan – he just sat there looking blue, he reminded me of violet from willy wonka.

It has always stuck with me, probably will never leave my memory. I was too young to see what I saw and too young to have to understand such a thing. But it shaped me, and every Christmas I feel the need to have a drink for that man, whoever he is and wherever he is.

I was told about a homeless shelter in my city recently, due to their website which I didn’t trust to leave my bank details on – I will be walking in myself this week and donating in person. I’m going to do the same thing as many times as I can this year. I am generous to charities all year (probably because of Mr Scrooge) but in truth I simply don’t do enough to help others. I rejoice in paying my taxes whilst my colleagues bore me with tales of why they shouldn’t pay so much. I have used the NHS, it has actually saved my life – so I pay with a smile on my face. We all feel we should do more but fail at the last hurdle putting some reason head of us, however silly it may be.

I don’t think helping other people will save me from a dreadful chain in purgatory like Scrooge did, in don’t feel I will be rewarded in heaven for my caring. I just think its the right thing to do. And the more we do, the nicer we are, this place can only get better.

Before thinking badly of your own position, think of others who are much worse off.

Merry Christmas – have a great new year and try to be a better person, at the least you’ll feel better for it.

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