It's getting to be that time of year: Christmas trees are being set up and twinkly lights are strung everywhere. Every Christmas I am more and more excited to celebrate my favorite holiday. There is one thing, however, that complicates my feelings about this time of year: religion.
The religious conversation around this time of year makes me uncomfortable. By religious conversation, I mean the long Instagram captions that are a direct Bible verse reminding people that this holiday is about Christ, the glittery signs in stores that say things like "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" and the people who stand on the corner of intersections passing out catechisms and saying "Jesus loves you."
Let me start by saying that I was raised Christian; my mom is the proud owner of a "You Can't Have Christmas Without Christ" sign. I've attended Christmas Day church service for the last 10 years. As I've grown up, though, I've battled privately with my religious beliefs. I am not comfortable labeling myself as a Christian, but I'm also not comfortable labeling myself as anything else.
Each year, Christmas reminds me of my own complicated views on religion. I participate in the religious flurry around me but I strongly believe that you don't need to be religious to enjoy Christmas.
I know Christmas started out as a religious holiday. To our ancestors, I'm sure the religious part of Christmas was the most important part. As society changes, however, our focus on religion changes as well.
The Christian religion is not an intrinsic part of human life anymore. There are so many different religious beliefs celebrated in our world's melting pot that limiting holidays to those who are religious ostracizes the large percentage of the population who does not believe in a Christian God.
Rather than calling seasonal events things like "Christmas Break," our culture has taken a more all-inclusive approach and called it "Winter Break." People are encouraged to say "Happy Holidays" rather than "Merry Christmas" to the friends, family and strangers that they encounter. These changes are opening up the holiday season for everyone to celebrate and I think this is a great step forward for our society.
I acknowledge that Christianity is a very important part of Christmas for some people, but I know that the season can—and should!—be celebrated by people of all religious backgrounds.
Christmas is about more than Christ—it's about spreading joy, spending time with the people you love and giving to others. The world would be a better place if we lived like this all of the time.
Christmas is a day that brings me happiness, regardless of my religion, because I get to spend it with my loved ones. I'm sure that my thoughts on religion will continue to change and expand as I get older, but I know that Christmas will hold a special place in my heart no matter what.