Although Anne is talking about her sister here, this really says it just right in regards to me and my brothers too:
Sis and I get along fine, but we rarely see each other. That's because there's a 900-pound gorilla in the room with us ever time we meet and greet. That gorilla is her faith, which point blank assigns me to hell.
I do not have such feelings about her faith. I believe in her god. I just don't worship her god. I think he has a mean streak. He's not alone in that. Lots of deities have mean streaks. But most of them don't have a gazillion followers who vote.
And I feel the same way about their faith as she does about her sister’s faith. As I said to someone recently – Love/worship/praise/believe in who or what you want…as long as you’re not hurting anyone physically or mentally (including yourself) and you’re happy – just do what you want. I’m not going to tell you how to live your life, just as I expect you not to tell me how to live mine.
I think upon this a lot as the Winter Solstice approaches (which is the 22nd) this year. I also am still trying to figure out how (and what) to make a tradition. I mean, I grew up in the Episcopal church and a big family. We celebrated Christmas with fervor. I remember each Christmas morning (when I was young) my three brothers and I would gather at the top of the stairs, trying to see into the living room below while making sure we didn’t wake our mom up too early. Then, once we were all awake we’d line up and troop down the stairs together. Once in the living room, we’d scramble to find our laden stockings, claim the seat we wanted for the gift-opening extravaganza, and then we’d get to open one gift before we all went and had homemade waffles for breakfast. (My memory gets a bit vague when I try and figure out when we would go to church that morning – Mom was a church organist, so I’m assuming she had to play at least one service on Christmas morning….) Later, we’d return to our seats and the fun began.
When I was little, we really were into recycling Christmas wrapping…we had to be, in a family of 6! (And we still have some of the wrapping paper and boxes showing up occasionally.) So, in order to save the paper, as well as drag out the fun, each one of us would take a turn and play “Santa” to the rest of the family. This meant picking out which gift the other person was going to open next and taking it to them. Then we’d all watch that one person open that one present (slowly, no tearing! save the paper!) – oooh and ahh over the gift – and then the next person would get their present. With a family of 6 (and generous parents) this sometimes made the gift-opening sessions run for 3-4 hours!! It was a test of patience, but also made us understand gift giving better I think. To add a bit of spice, we’d even have the occasional treasure hunt for the present – all of us running from room to room reading clues and trying to not “help” the recipient find their gift. It was a blast.
As I look at my brother’s families now, I don’t see any of that tradition continuing, and it makes me sad. And trying to duplicate it with just me and my hubby doesn’t seem to be the answer, for many reasons. So I continue to try and figure out a tradition that he and I can build – something as fulfilling as my childhood, but less centered on consumerism and the Christian belief system…neither of which we have any faith in.