Sunday, November 04, 2007

Questions...long neglected.

When I started this blog, a great many of my posts came from questions asked by readers. It's kind of fun to get back to that sort of blogging every now-and-then. These are some that have been filling my "save" box.

Possummomma, Have you ever thought about writing a book about your life? - Kelly Powalski, Bryn Mar, Ca.

I would love to write a book. I've toyed with expanding this blog into book form. I think there's a market for people curious about how to parent as an atheist. I even have some of my entries drafted for book format, but when Parenting Beyond Belief came out, I just stuck it on the back burner. Maybe I should take this time that I have off and see if I can figure out how the book business works (publishing, etc.,.). If any of you have tips or connections, and you want to share them, I would definitely be appreciative. E-mail me, if you would! As for the book being autobiographical: that could be potentially problematic as I didn't have the happiest of childhoods. It wasn't horrible (compared to some I've heard of), but my immediate family went through some pretty difficult times. I'm not sure if I could tell my story without divulging some details that might make members of my family look bad.

Have you thought about hosting a meet-up for locals? - TJ, Tehachapi, Ca.
I've hosted a few gatherings for atheists in the Bakersfield area. I'm hoping to get that started again. I'll be sure to e-mail you if/when we get another meeting together. I'm also not opposed to lunch/coffee with people when we travel. I love meeting blog readers!

My husband and I have two kids and we just became atheists. How do we do Christmas? - Shauna, Rosebud, MT.
HEY!!! Rosebud, MT!! My first college dorm mate was from Rosebud. If you know a Darla, tell her I said "hi!" As for how you "do Christmas"... I don't think there's a single answer that would be appropriate. It really depends on how you've celebrated in the past and how tied into religion those activities were. Obviously, if you were a hard core church goer, you'll probably not go to church...although, don't rule this out as an activity. Part of raising a well-rounded child, I think, is allowing them to experience other cultures/religions. My older kids are going to go to church for a Christmas service with our old nanny. They wanted to. I'm not threatened by it. So, why not? :) If church wasn't a part of your Christmas activities, then you probably won't change your plans all that much. I think you can circumvent a lot of the "Jesus is the reason for the season" stuff if you investigate the pagan and cultural aspects of the holiday. Get the kids (depending on their ages) into crafts that might represent the winter holidays in other countries. Celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or St. Nick's Day. To me, the holiday season should be about enjoying your family and spending some time focused on childhood wonder and positive experiences. How you do that is entirely up to you and your family. Part of the great tradition of atheism, in my opinion, is the freedom to do any number of things...let me know how YOU celebrated the time. I can't wait to hear what you did.

We generally observe the following schedule (loosely):
Annual picture for our December Newsletter. The kids also spend some time writing their articles.
Thanksgiving with family.
Day after Thanksgiving, we decorate the house; put up the tree, start planning our craft activities that we want to do.
Make cookies for neighbors and family - with plenty of reserves for our own enjoyment.
Make puppy chow. - If someone reminds me, I'll post the recipe in a few weeks. Maybe I'll take pictures of how it's made. :)
Decorate paint cans with paper, ribbons, stamps, stickers, and whatever else the kids want to use. We fill these with goodies and treats for neighbors.
Hand out the goodies and treats by paying a visit.
We usually end up celebrating Hanukkah with our friends who are Jewish. Last year, we made them a dreidel board. They made potato latkes and traditional faire. It was a blast.
Shop and craft our hearts out.
Plan our charitable activity. Last year, each child picked three books that they wanted to wrap for kids at a local shelter.
Christmas eve = reindeer food. *(I normally don't lie to kids, kids have always been fascinated by the folklore of Santa and Rudolph. We get around "lying" by downplaying the man in the red suit and playing-up the act of giving. But, the reindeer food is something that the older two are really excited about doing with the little ones. Grace loved it last year. I'll get pics and recipes out when we do it.)
Christmas eve = our kids get matching pajamas (which is a chore when you have a 3 year old and a going-on-13 year old) and we take a "Dec. 24th" pic of the kids in bed, in matching Jams.
My husband's family has always celebrated on 12/24, so we let the kids open up all of DH's family's gifts.
Christmas - a bacchanalia of gift giving and receiving.
New Year's Eve - each child writes a letter (or, in Owen and Grace's case, dictate a letter) to themselves for the following year. This letter covers what their height, weight, and "favorite things" are on 12/31. When they're done, we put the current letter in their stockings, to be tucked away until the next year. We open the previous year's letter at 11:50pm on 12/31. It's a cool tradition. They get to see just how much they've grown and changed in a year. After they read them, I tuck them away in their baby books.

Ok... I've got a scratchy throat, so I think I should hit the hay.
G'night everyone!


Betsy said...

Wow - I've been meaning to ask you about Christmas myself! This year we had a yard sale and I nearly put out a nativity set my MIL gave me a few years ago, but deciced to keep it. I'm trying to decide if actually displaying it would confuse my kids.
We also got the Little People Nativity several years ago (last Christmas was our first as atheists) and my kids loved playing with it and remember it. I can't decide what to do with it!

I still find myself singing along to religious Christmas carols too. I used to sing them to my kids to get them to sleep. I can't seem to make myself stop; it used to be one of my favorite things.

I really need some secular traditions. We always make cookies and goodies to pass out to friends and neighbors. But I might borrow a few of yours! I think I am moving from cards to a newsletter this year; it's too hard to find non-religious cards that are good.

Maggie Rosethorn said...

I think some of your traditions are pretty cool. We decorate the house, and I still put up 1 nativity set (Precious Moments, made of pewter, figures about 2" tall or so). The kids love the set. I get out the books of christmas stories and they are there for reading if wanted (Baum's "Life and Times of Santa Claus gets read every year by at least 1 person). I love the music anyway, so I'll keep singing the religious and non religious songs. I will probably end up going to church on Xmas eve with my parents to keep the peace, although I won't make the kids go (they can stay home with my atheist brother; my parents are more resigned to his atheism for some reason. Maybe because it's been out for longer)

Since we are rarely home for the entire holiday season, we don't have a lot of traditions; many of the older ones ended as the kids grew and didn't want to do them any more (cookies for Santa, for example). I wish I'd thought of your growth letters. Those are the coolest thing. We do pajamas, but not matching; usually they are something the kids have found and admired.

Hope the scratchy throat feels better!

HappyNat said...

How do we do Christmas?

I usually start by fixing xmas a nice dinner with a bottle or two of wine, then move to the couch with some candles and Barry White in the background . . .

Margaret said...

*(I normally don't lie to kids, kids have always been fascinated by the folklore of Santa and Rudolph. We get around "lying" by downplaying the man in the red suit and playing-up the act of giving.

I don't think I would ever have forgiven my Mom for lying and tricking me about such a thing, but whatever it was she said (I don't remember), I never viewed it as a lie but simply as the one lovely time of year that she would actually join in "playing pretend," something I usually had to do alone. For me now, "playing Santa Claus" means getting to be the one to give the gifts.

Sean the Blogonaut F.C.D. said...

I don't go to Church. In fact the last time I went to Church on Christmas was in the mid nineties.

I don't put up a christmas tree, we don't have children but we do have cats that climb.

We usually have a gathering at my Parents, where we meet the immediate family exchange gifts and gorge on food.

All the important stuff about christmas has nothing to do with religion.

I don't go around saying Merry festivus either, christmas is as much tradtion and culture as religion, so I celebrate it as a cultural holiday.

I find nothing hypocritical about it either, no more so than the pagan christmas tree.

It is a convenient time to celebrate all that is good and to display charity to others less fortunate.

Anonymous said...

Nicely said, Sean. :)

Saurian200 said...


I usually start by fixing xmas a nice dinner with a bottle or two of wine, then move to the couch with some candles and Barry White in the background . . .

Go on...

HappyNat said...


Now that I've got your dirty mind hooked . . .Coming soon to an adult video store near you! Happy Nat 'Does' the Holidays . . . Including a special scene with Larry Craig tapping the foot of Labor Day :)

Joe said...

Hey PM, I'm sorry for not reaching out to yow when I was in your neck of the woods. I left you a message on my blog that says the next time I'm out your way I'll reach out to you so we can shake hands and stuff. My deist wife was all for it as well. It didn't really occur to me since you have had dealings with crazy stalkers.