home and holidays
December 27, 2002 02:46 PM

I'm glad to be home.

I love my parents, I do. But I'm glad to be briefly back in my own house. Where the furry things don't make me sneeze my hair isn't slimy and looking in the mirror makes me smile.

I left an old Playstation with my father, who is sure to become addicted to Street Fighter within a week. We played more board games than is healthy, and saw Michael Jordan play basketball. I'd not previously seen any live basketball game, so even the relatively bad [for Jordan] Michael Jordanness was still quite impressive. That was fun.

What was not fun was going to church. I resent that, if I were say, Muslim or Jewish, people could accept that Christmas is not a religious holiday for me. It's a holiday I love, but not one with any religious meaning. I'm willing to handle the cathedral here in town, since it - like most Catholic churches - mixes the purely dogmatic, story-based side of Christian religion with a fair helping of mysticism and intellectualism. I rarely leave the cathedral without something to think about later.

I cannot say the same about the Protestant [excepting Episcopalian, if that counts as Protestant] church. Certainly not the one I was coerced into attending on Tuesday night. It was, well, preachy. Not as disturbingly dogmatic as the few Charismatic/Evangelical services I've crashed, but not as - well, charismatic, either. It was boring. And the truth is, I don't think I've ever been to a Protestant service that wasn't. I have been to some lovely Protestant plays, youth group recitals, pot lucks, and the like. But not an actual non-boring service.

In any case, I know it's easy for parents to fall into thinking their children's (even grown ones) opinions are just phases, but I think my family would be able to accept that I was some other religion. So, it frustrates me that they don't accept me as non-religious. I don't believe in god(s). It's not a lightly made choice. So, just as one would give a Jewish child the courtesy of at least asking whether s/he would like to go to a Christian service on a Christian holiday, I'd like to get the same from my parents.

Never going to happen, of course. It's not the only opinion of mine that they tend to gloss over. And ironically, they're not even particularly religious.

That doesn't mean I don't value holidays with my family. I'd like to find a way to include all of my family (not my extended family so much as the friends I think of as family, and the boyfriend who spends the time with his own family), but I still enjoy spending time with my parents. I simply prefer the secular ways we celebrate: our traditional Christmas day movie, gift-giving, or dinner and lights tour the night before [cancelled this year due to parents' move to the far end of nowhere] to any pretense of religion.

Of course, if our religious pretense embraced the pagan nature of the holiday [Io, Saturnalia!], I might feel differently.

As I wrote this, I realised that it also suited the We Have Brains topic for this week, which I hadn't had time to answer yet. If you got here from there, you might also want to read what I love about christmas.

[More from me, January 9, 2003]
I feel a need to add something that I don't think every reader quite grasped about this entry. There's a difference between my annoyance with Protestants and my parents and actually thinking Christianity and its holidays are bunk.

My family is, as mentioned, non-religious (parents included). I find their lack of religion and insistence on attending church fascinating, challenging, and ultimately quite Einstein's-second-level-ish. But I don't feel uncomfortable with their choice to "worship"; I simply am bored by their minister and frustrated by the nature of parent-child relationships. Even in a good relationship like ours, there's a tendency for them to slip into the "you're young, you don't know" approach, and for me to slip into "you're older, you don't know, either". We talk about it. It happens. I document it.

I take umbrage at anyone who calls another religious practice "disgusting". That is, to me, one of the most deeply offensive things you could say. One of the reasons I could never do more than be vaguely intrigued by paganism is that attitude towards Christianity. It's not common to all pagans, but it's certainly a popular line of rhetoric. It's also intolerant and mean. It is undoubtedly important to stand up for your own beliefs, but disparaging those of others is not acceptable on my site.

I might also add that doggedly holding on to one's own requirements for how life must be led and what is and is not to be believed is not, by my measure, a sign of adulthood. It is, in many ways, quite childish to refuse to compromise and to recognize the relative values of an argument. And Tish, you are my shining example of someone who has lived a life of strong beliefs but can also reign it in enough to compromise and coexist with those who love you. It's good to know that it stays hard.

Happy new year to all of you, too.

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