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<p>I started this as a winter solstice thread, but the responses got me thinking that I'm really searching for WHAT to do, given that I have great memories of Christmas when I was young, but given that the "meaning" of Christmas as I see it from my non-religious point of view (or at least how most Americans seem to celebrate it) is a celebration of materialism.  Ugh. </p>
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<p>So, let's change the question to what are you celebrating and how?  What are you doing to make sure your celebrations express your values?  How are you dealing with your families' reactions to what you're doing?  How do your kids react (especially as they grow older and may realize that Santa came to their friends houses but not to theirs?  Etc, etc.?</p>
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<p>Thank you!</p>
 

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<p>To be honest, this is why we celebrate Christmas. Not only does DH usually get the day off (like everybody else - not something that happens on the solstice), but modern Christmas traditions are pretty much pagan-based anyway. The more I learned about pagan solstice rituals, the more I realized Christmas is SO not a Christian holiday. The Christian part is just an overlay, and an easily ignored one.</p>
 

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<p>This year we're marking the winter solstice by baking a snowman cake and putting white frosting on it (DS's decided on this back when we were discussing the autumn equinox). </p>
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<p>DS (5yo) is very interested in astronomy and earth science, so this year we've observed the equinoxes (for spring we planted seeds in containers) and summer solstice by baking a treat (autumn was cookies) and putting up seasonally appropriate decorations.  We also briefly talk about the changing angles and amount of sunlight reaching us at that point in the earth's orbit around the sun (DS already knows about it, it's mostly just a basic reminder).</p>
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<p>We aren't particularly religious either, although DH and I were raised in christian environments, so we've kept some of our family traditions of an Easter basket for DS (b/c it's fun for him), dyeing Easter eggs (and smashing them in egg wars after), putting up Christmas lights (we love pretty lights!), having a small fiber optic tree (no needles to clean up and far fewer decorations) and a very small pile of presents for DS on Christmas (b/c we really don't want the focus to be on material things; no presents for me or DH b/c we just buy what we need/want throughout the year).  We basically kept what we liked, adapted as we saw fit, and ditched the rest. </p>
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<p>Oh, and for Christmas carols (which I love, but DH finds incredibly depressing), I listen to them in moderation--in the car by myself, or wearing headphones if DH is home.  DS gets some slight exposure during the days when DH is at work, but he's got a very low tolerance for listening to any music, so I don't push it.  So doing what works for you individually, with considerations for those around you, is still the <em>modus operandi</em>.</p>
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<p>DH and I discussed moving presents to the winter solstice, but then DS would still be expecting more presents on Xmas, so we keep our equinox and solstice observations present-free and really just focus on how cool it is to have four seasons to celebrate (and DH and I spent years in Los Angeles, so we really appreciate 4 distinct seasons).</p>
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<p>I expect that as DS gets older we'll be changing how we do things.  It does help that we live so far away from all our family and friends, so we don't get drawn into any of their traditions; we've got complete independence to do whatever we want, whenever we want to, however we want to.</p>
 

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<p>We have a nice big dinner and we open presents on the solstice.  The gifts our daughter gets on the solstice are handmade gifts that are very special.  I will tell a story and we light lots of candles.  </p>
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<p>On Christmas (because my husband never got to celebrate anything like that because of his parents religion)we do stockings from Father Christmas, a big breakfast and then we go over to my Mum's because she has her gifts for our daughter.  Then we do boxing day with the whole family.</p>
 

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<p>We will be celebrating winter solstice for the first time this year. Last year, we forewent the whole december celebration period due to ds being so little, us not knowing quite what we WANTED to celebrate, and a big move to Puerto Rico. </p>
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<p>Having been raised atheist with a partner who rejected his Christian upbringing for atheism, we find that there is nothing in modern Christmas celebration that speaks to us. I find it to be a holiday filled with commercialism, Christianity, obligatory gift-giving, and lies we feed our children that really serve no useful purpose. Santa? Really? Idk, it just doesn't work for our family. </p>
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<p>As far as gifts go, we buy/give what we deem necessary/indulgent as we see fit throughout the year. I'd RATHER do this than set aside one day of the year for gift-giving...no matter how thoughtful the gift! So, no gifts except those that outside friends and family insist on giving ds.</p>
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<p>So, having read up on some ideas for solstice family celebrations, this is what I'm planning. </p>
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<p>A morning toddler party for my son and a few of his friends the week before...working with beeswax modeling clay (takes inner warmth to soften it up for modeling), a few picture books (story-time!) on winter solstice, maybe a song or two and a candle to take home...</p>
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<p>For actual solstice here's my plan, </p>
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<p>*Some sort of candlelight dinner that has something to do with traditional foods (have to figure this out a bit better)</p>
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<p>*A large red pillar candle in the middle of the table, red candlesticks for each of us...no artificial light...we will talk about solstice again to ds and then pinch out all candles...DARKNESS!</p>
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<p>*Light the large middle candle, relight all of our own candles from the red saying something that we are looking forward to in the coming light months. </p>
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<p>*Have a bowl that we mix with gold glitter, water, and scented oil...anoint each other from the bowl and sing some song having to do with the sun..."you are my sunshine"?</p>
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<p>Probably finish the evening with an appropriate desert...maybe a candle-walk mixed in there? </p>
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<p>Idk, this is my first attempt, so I'm not sure what things will work and what will be cut out ;-)</p>
 

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<p>We get together with my bff's family and 'do magic' ie. have a ritual celebrating the birth of the sun-god.  We turn off all the lights and then go around the house turning them all back on while singing and dancing.  Then we eat snacks and sing some more.  :)</p>
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<p>I think this year there will be a gift or two - last year they were too small to care. </p>
 

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<p> We will have religious Christian family members come to our not-at-all-decorated house where we will have a small gift exchange.  Their gifts to us will be wrapped in Christmas paper with angels on it, and ours to them will be wrapped in generic winter paper with trees or snowflakes on it.  DH and I will gently ignore any references they make to the religious aspects of Christmas, and they will ignore the fact that we're atheist and don't find Christmas that big a deal.  <span><img alt="lol.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/lol.gif">  A fun yet awkward time will be had by all. </span> <span><img alt="orngtongue.gif" src="http://files.mothering.com/images/smilies/orngtongue.gif"></span></p>
 

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<p>We have a completely secular Christmas that isn't a "celebration of materialism." It's about spending time with family and sharing love, time, food, and yes, some modest (mostly handmade) gifts. There's nothing about not mentioning Jesus that makes us turn into over-consumers. And likewise, there are plenty of religious families who go nuts with gifts during the holidays. I don't see those two values (religion and anti-materialism) as mutually exclusive at all. </p>
 

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<p>Heh. We do Christmas in a big way. We decorate the outside of our house like crazy. Inside we have a 7 1/2 foot tree, all decorated. We buy presents. We have stockings. We do a big Christmas dinner. My parents come to stay with us for about a week(they are very religious). Basically, we leave the Jesus stuff out and do the fun, secular stuff. We do focus on things like love, family, the spirit of giving and what not. But not the birth of Jesus or nativity or "put the Christ back in Christmas." We listen to Christmas music, but make an effort to skip the religious ones. </p>
 

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<p>We also decorate for Christmas inside and out all the way.  The kids will be decorating gingerbread houses and craft stick ornaments to decorate their playroom and/or bedrooms with.  They'll also be helping me make presents for the grandma's, an aunt and their teachers along with cookies for us.  We exchange presents, purchase/make and ship presents for those family members who live far away (which is everyone) and purchase presents to donate to those who are less fortunate than us.  We don't observe the religious aspects of Christmas and instead focus on what it means to give to others during this time of year and activities as a family.</p>
 

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<p><br><span>Quote:</span></p>
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<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>limabean</strong> <a href="/community/forum/thread/1280564/non-religious-parents-how-are-you-celebrating-in-december#post_16065502"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border-right:0px solid;border-top:0px solid;border-left:0px solid;border-bottom:0px solid;"></a><br><br><p>We have a completely secular Christmas that isn't a "celebration of materialism." It's about spending time with family and sharing love, time, food, and yes, some modest (mostly handmade) gifts. There's nothing about not mentioning Jesus that makes us turn into over-consumers. And likewise, there are plenty of religious families who go nuts with gifts during the holidays. I don't see those two values (religion and anti-materialism) as mutually exclusive at all. </p>
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<p>I'm sorry - I didn't mean to make it sound like I think everyone who celebrates Christmas is into materialism.  I want to be able to rationalize why I still want to do all the fun stuff - the getting together with friends and families, the making gingerbread houses, etc. if we're not religious at all. </p>
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<p>I think I might think about it like I do about Thanksgiving and Halloween - there's no real *reason* we do it other than that it's tradition in our culture to have certain kinds of fun on those days. <br><br>
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