Who Owns the Holidays?

The Holidays are tricky.  Beyond the family drama and the social pressure, there’s a group of people – “Us,” who wage a silent battle with Christians – “Them.”  No; it’s not a war on Christianity.  But it’s a war.  Make no mistake.

Each year I’m responsible for designing and delivering a major holiday production for our Adopt-a-Family program.  Each year I struggle in making my point.  I do not want to house my production in a church.  I do not want it to be in a non-secular place of any kind.  If I could have my way, I’d have it in a big park by the Bay; but, while God might be fine with that, the weather here in December probably won’t.  You always have to have some indoor option.

The other day, while – yet again – explaining to someone that more than 35% of the people I serve are not Christians, including me, they quickly fired back, “I don’t have any problem going to another religion’s church to celebrate Christmas.”  Where to begin.

Just like a lot of “good Christians,” I too am offended when people impose on my beliefs with their own.  Since I’ve been forced for some 50 of my 55 years to tip-toe around virtually everyone I know with language and practices kept silent and private for the benefit of their religious senses, I know it’s possible to shroud your faith in quiet reflection and silence and to keep it out of the public square.  I think it’s time Christianity gave that a try.

Everyone likes to feel good in December.  In the Southern Hemisphere, everyone likes to feel good in July, but in our American-centric view, only our perspective matters.  We have little time or interest in finding out how others spend their time.  Whenever the sun is where it is in the sky when it’s cold where you are on earth, well, that’s when we like to hope the sun will return and plants will grow again.  It’s in our genes.  It’s in our blood.  It’s not a wholly owned experience by anyone or anything.  It’s part of being alive here on earth.  So, let’s just say, to begin with, nobody owns the “right” to name or confine that experience with a requirement of religion.  Rights belong to everyone.

As one of many people who feel that our own personal “god” is much larger, kinder, more real and much, much more awe-inspiring than is that Christian thing, I find Christian churches highly insulting.  To me, a Christian church of any variety is a museum-grade tribute to good turned evil.  “How to take a message of laws and love, and reconcile them with the lower forces of human behavior by twisting and contorting them into vile rules of fear, unauthorized domination, destruction and hate with indoctrination seminars in weekly Sunday sessions.”   I think if you’re following the Christian dogma sitting in an electronic-laden amphitheatre or a gilt chapel while one single homeless or hungry person exists within your sphere, you’re missing something.  So, why would I want to celebrate the quiet nestling love of my spiritual winter there?  Why would I want to disrupt and disturb my constant, unconfined, uncontrolled celebration of loving my god?

December is not synonymous with “Christmas.”  Please, try not to be confused.  December is not the commemorative occasion of the birth of your fairy tale.  It’s not.  I guess you have to live your life as one of the female majority of this world, forever punished and condemned to pain and suffering and domination by evil by a “loving father,” to really get the full effect.  Haven’t we all seen enough of that play enacted before us, generation after generation, casting out the ones we are forged to protect because of some sort of money-called-religion betrayal?  Can’t they see the repetition?  Don’t they see the farce?  Must we deny what we are to gain a ticket to the throne room?

Since the people I’ll be hosting this December are mostly suffering from the effects of a Christian dominant society, and since practically none of my donations will be coming to these folks in the name of churches, I don’t feel that a church is the appropriate place to celebrate the love and generosity of our community.  It’s oddly difficult to find a place that will suit a party for about 800 folks who just want food and clothes, soap and toilet paper and maybe a toy for their kids.  There are plenty of places that will let you entertain and plenty of places where you can eat.  There aren’t too many places where you can entertain with a mini Nutcracker ballet, eat and play games while you pick up your food and gifts for “Christmas” out back.  There are rules.  There are restrictions.  There are churches.