Tis the season for subtle family jabs of disapproval about your lack of faith. For my non-believing readers or my readers who may have converted to another faith, Christmas can be rough when you genuinely love the holiday. I love the generosity, the time spent with family, the food, the sweets, the lights, the tree, and those old PBS Christmas Specials (The Year Without a Santa Claus is my jam), but I just don't really jive with the whole "Jesus" thing.
This problem isn't unique to me. I have Muslim and Jewish friends who love to partake in Christmas traditions, not because they believe in it, but because most people in their class used to. The odds are that in America you have a friend who celebrates Christmas. I too love the traditions. I'm not going to give up something that I've been doing for twenty plus years of my life just to appease people who think I shouldn't still celebrate with my family because I left the church.
I get it, some people think that Christmas should be entirely a Christian holiday, but then we'd have to get rid of the tree, Santa Claus, the lights, the yule log, and those Krampus horror films that keep showing up all over the place. These things are not mentioned in the bible but Christians do them anyway.
So how do you celebrate a secular Christmas? Well I'm glad you asked.
Make sure you blast your favorite Christmas songs (I'm partial to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and other secular hits), bake your cookies into your favorite shape (I like Christmas trees), and put up your decorations sans nativity scenes. You don't have to pretend to believe in something you don't. Just own your love of Christmas tradition.
But how do you avoid family arguments about faith? Again, I'm glad you asked.
Just don't talk about it. If someone brings it up at my family gatherings, I like to pretend that my drink is empty, or that I have to use the bathroom. I go into the other room and cool off a bit. Then, when I reenter the room I bring up something neutral like my family member's job or an upcoming trip or how the apartment hunt is going.
It doesn't have to be a fight. Just remain respectful that your family members have different beliefs and that's okay. Politely say "I understand that you have your beliefs, but I have mine and I'd rather not talk about it unless you genuinely want to listen." Nine times out of ten, they'll change the subject anyway.
Christmas can be stressful for those of us without a faith but it doesn't have to be. Just focus on the fact that you're happy, healthy, and still just as entitled to get your yuletide cheer on as everyone else is.