watervole: (Xmas)
Christmas has many meanings to different people.

To me, it is primarily a time to be spent with family - a time set aside for a few days when work and more secular things are set aside.

But it is also (to me) a folk tradition, and in that light, it is also important to me. I'm not a Christian, but the Nativity story is an important one. All myths (I use the word 'myth' in the sense of 'traditional narrative story') survive because they carry meanings that are important to us. The Nativity is part of a story of love and peace and ultimately part of the story of God's love for mankind. It has folk elements, the shepherds, wise men, angels, etc. and those elements in turn spin off their own stories and songs.

It doesn't really matter that Jesus was probably born in the Autumn, or that Christmas was planted on top of earlier Midwinter Solstice festivals. In the end, all the celebrations are saying the same thing: "New life will return. There is hope for the future."

When I was young, I learnt all the traditional carols at church and at school. As I grew older and firmed up my non-religious view on life, I stopped singing them. Then, as the wheel of time turned, I realised that they were part of our heritage and I could enjoy them on that basis. I could take the message of love, hope, understanding and peace and sing that to my heart's content.

I try and have a relatively non-commercial Xmas. Our family tradition is to try not to spend large sums of money on presents. Second-hand items (like books) are perfectly fine, as is the occasional home-made gift. We ban TV on Christmas day and spend it with family, play games, do jigsaws, etc.

I'd love to have carols at home, but not all the family share my love of them.

Maybe I'll go out with the carol singers from the local church. I did that once before and they were very welcoming to the athiest in their midst. Music creates its own kind of harmony.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, perhaps the above will help explain why an athiest has chosen this particular Christmas card for you all. It felt right to me.

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Judith Proctor

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