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I’m not religious. Never grew up with any religious backing. No midnight mass on Christmas Eve. No ashes on Ash Wednesday. No Easter Sunday service. I didn’t get a bat mitzvah when I turned 12.

As a kid growing up I didn’t question the lack of religious backing when it came to celebrating major holidays. All I knew was that I had a day or few days off from school. We gathered, we laughed, we shared, we ate. But as I grew and I questioned my own faith I began to stand with the camp of all holidays are excuses for materialistic excess. Yet that didn’t mean I wanted to stop experiencing my gathering, and laughing, and sharing…and of course eating 😊

Sounds simple right? Until you find yourself dating someone who is religious BUT his religion has zero room and tolerance for the expression of your non-religious holiday traditions.

My boyfriend doesn’t believe in the religious origins of Christmas therefore he has no place for the commercial factor. No Santa, no garlands, no wreath on the door…no tree. I like the spirit of Christmas. I like the spirit behind the holiday that I was raised with. The spirit of people (family and friends) coming together. I’ve never thought of the religious aspect. My parents never fostered the idea of a jolly White Man coming into our home and dropping off gifts. My sister and I knew who were responsible for the gifts. Yet at times we had what are called and rightly thought of as Christmas decorations…And this is where my dilemma lies.

After my Mom died I said to myself that if I have kids there are certain things I want to do with them because I did them with my family or even start doing them because I didn’t get to do them for long with my family. Like decorating a Christmas tree after Thanksgiving dinner, or hosting a big family holiday party at my house. Something I know my Mom would have love to have done but she was usually working on Christmas.

If I want to celebrate the spirit of the season with a Christmas tree my boyfriend is totally against it. I have always seen Christmas trees as decorations nothing more. But I have friends that may think otherwise. Never really asked. When bringing up the subject with my boyfriend it usually leads to a lecture on the “true meaning of Christmas”.  My point is lost that to me its a tree and decorations. And decorations are part of enjoying the spirit of certain holidays. Like pumpkins or costumes during Halloween, or pastel colored eggs during Easter.

What really got me thinking about my childhood holiday traditions was when my boyfriend’s mother mentioned since we are of different faiths if we have kids they won’t be raised observing those pagan holidays…because he doesn’t believe in that.

Thousands, maybe even millions of parents come together being of different faiths. Don’t forget I don’t have a faith. I’ve never made my dislike for organized religion a secret. My boyfriend knows how I feel. We have discussed it. I’ve been respectful of him and his religion. I’m respectful of the fact that he wants to raise any children we have under his faith and that I won’t be silent on the fact that I don’t have one. But what does that have to do with me having a tree in our home for maybe two weeks, one month a year? Or hanging a wreath? Why can’t my child/children be knowledgeable of their father’s faith and their mother’s decision to not observe a faith, respect her spirituality and appreciate the spirit of holidays being alive with some tinsel and garland?

Of course the idea of being denied this upsets me because my Mom is gone. Because she was the one to make the holidays special. My Dad and sister do what they can. But nothing can recreate that magic of Christmas morning being seen through the eyes of a child. Or just enjoying the holiday the way you know how and want to.

I know it sounds silly to be hooked on this. I can simply just adopt his holiday tradition and incorporate it into my own. Right?

Can’t the same be asked of him?

Perhaps I wouldn’t feel so strongly if my boyfriend didn’t grow up with his own Christmas memories, his own Christmas trees. So he knows the kind of joy I want to create for our children.

Until next time