Thinking about the Christmas season – which is fully and completely upon us – yes, there’s officially no going back folks! I’ve been pondering what Christmas really means to me, as a non-Christ believer. I know this is a rocky topic and I hope I don’t drive any of you a way with this – but I felt that I needed to be honest and honesty and truth are one the of the things I’d like to show more of via my blog.
Where did all this come from? Some of my favorite bloggers are followers of JC (Jesus Christ, ya’ll) or have a strong spiritual or religious background that they talk about, at times, through their blog. I find myself skimming those parts of their blog and jumping to the “good stuff” – outfits, beautiful pictures of their hometown, DIY, gorgeous kiddos and family time, etc. And I think the bad part of that is I just don’t relate to their religious feelings.
I’ve had multiple points in my life where religion was introduced. The earliest I remember is going to church with my father – our family was Serbian Orthodox and mass was in Serbian. We didn’t speak Serbian at home. So you can only imagine how fun that was for a small child. I remember leaving early – I’m sure I was super fussy and my dad didn’t want me to have a full-blown meltdown. My dad and his brother were very involved in our church at a young age – they went to Serbian school (but yet didn’t learn to speak Serbian) and were involved in the youth groups and such. By the time I rolled around, though, it seems our family’s dedication (or dare I say interest) in the church diminished and even though I tried Serbian school (I lasted a week) and youth dance via kolo (I lasted a day) – it never really stuck for me. Growing up – most of my exposure to our specific church (after my previous trial runs) came in the form of our priest – Father Milos visiting our house twice a year to bless it from evil spirits.
Fast forwarding to my teenage years – I went to a Catholic high school. That’s crazy for a Serbian to go to a Catholic high school because that’s where the religious wars erupted in the “old country” of the former Yugoslavia and Croatia – because Serbs were Orthodox and Croats were Catholic. But the school provided a better opportunity for me educationally and athletically and I was able to blend in pretty well. We had Theology classes in high school taught by a Catholic priest and that’s where I learned all about the Bible, my athletic teams (basketball, volleyball and softball) all did the “Our Father” before every game, and even had an all-school Mass once a month. So, it’s safe to say that I was exposed to religion fairly consistently at a few points in my life.
But as I matured to an adult, I realized that I just didn’t “believe.” I find evolution a more realistic or probable theory of how we arrived on Earth. And with feeling like that – how can I celebrate Christmas and what does it mean to me? This big, massive, religious celebration that’s hailed around the world to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ?
Christmas, to me, has grown to be a time to celebrate my family. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and what’s been good, bad and ugly during the year. It’s a time to re-connect with others, to cuddle up for warmth to those that we love, and to celebrate each other in laughter and joy. It’s part of the time of year where I can see my nephew’s eyes light up in excitement, and one of the rare times of the year where my mom’s huge side of the family gathers together to open presents and share a meal (my mom is one of 10, so you can imagine all of them plus the grandkids and great grandkids that are there!), and it’s one of the times where JP and I make our way across a few states to visit her family and share in their traditions. Christmas, to me, is rooted in family. It’s rooted in tradition. And whether you attend Christmas mass, or say a Christmas dinner prayer, or just take time out of your busy life to appreciate those important people around you and the miracle that is this big, scary, exciting world we live in – that’s where you’ll find the spirit of Christmas.
What is the reason you celebrate the holidays?