Happy 420/Easter + Holidays As An Atheist

This was supposed to be posted yesterday, but I procrastinated, so here goes . . .

stonr bunny

It is Easter once again. And an interesting one to, being it falls on 420. In a sense, quite convenient. Some houses will not have any Easter feast leftovers tomorrow lol.

Normally I do a lot of bitching and ranting on this blog, but this entry is a bit different. Being the timing, it seems a good time to go though some of the various good things that have been occurring in the world of late.

Just a few years back (when I started out in my online presence as a critic of religion), it would have seemed laughable, the gains that have been made in terms of both marijuana and same sex marriage legislation. Yet here we are in 2014, where numerous states have taken the plunge of allowing the marriage of same sex couples. And 2 states now have legalized marijuana, and are just begining to reap the taxation benefits of having it on the legal side of the equation.
Of course, more needs to be done. The conservatives have proven in the past, to not be always content to let the “destroyers of morals” win the “culture” war.

And there is still to much of a gap between the federal laws of the US on marijuana and the Colorado/Washington state laws. Its a big step in the right direction, but with the DEA still as powerful as ever (not to mention the other powerful lobbying interests), im still a bit cautious.
Some people have made the move to the the “Green” states, but I would advise that you have a backup plan. Since federal law trumps state law, one has to be weary.

Now, holidays as an atheist.

I do not recall if I have ever written about this before, but if not, here goes.

Like everyone else, I really enjoyed the holiday season when I was young. It was always a fun time of year. Mainly Christmas, but also Easter and all those other holidays. I remember some disappointment during the holidays at not getting the gifts I had really hoped for (computer, other super pricey stuff lol), but as with most parts of being a kid, I grew out of that phase. Christmas and Easter were when the family got to mingle with the rest of the family. It was not the ONLY time of year that we visited, but the holidays are pretty much the only occasion where we seen everyone (with exception to funerals and other such events).

In all truthfulness, the holidays were never about the religion for me. My extended family was/is religious, but not fundamentalist. And since my parents never really had any discussion in and around faith or religion, it was more or less an understanding. So the religious holidays even then, were more about visiting relatives and having a good time, then worship.

But when I eventually discarded my belief in an all mighty supernatural being, holidays did get a little bit awkward. Even though I had kept my non-belief hidden until my early 20s, holidays were at first, a bit awkward, and in later years, just flat out depressing.

In my early years of non-belief, my problem was with much of the culture surrounding. For example, Christmas music. Some is secular oriented, but when your in private residences or with family, you usually hear a bit of both. So even though the subject of Christianity was never broached, I still didn’t really feel comfortable in the situation.
Then when I became an adult, I begun to work in retail and other customer oriented jobs (and I am still at that level today. Not a complaint really, just an explanation of my current situation). Being an introverted and cynical person to begin with, a day at work more often then not, is almost like hell on earth. But the holidays add a whole new twist to the situation.

When the Christmas shopping season begins, most sectors of the service industry begin to pick up. The closer the holiday gets, the busier the industry becomes. And the closer to the holiday, the less friendliness is displayed by people. After surviving the holiday rush though a couple different customer service positions during a variety of times before, during and after the holidays, I begun to hate that time of the year. The closer they came, the more I wanted them to just be over.

You know, they say “Merry Christmas! Happy ______!”, but in the end it was all a bit of an unfunny joke. Many of the consumers I had dealings with were not in the least bit friendly or Merry. But I think the straw that almost sent me over the edge, was an arrogant customer I always served at a gas bar (his company has an account there). Every time he is in, he always throws the cards on the counter without a word, so I consider him pretty much an asshole already.
Then before Christmas one year, he  comes in, and we go though the same old. I look up, and he has a badge pinned to his jacket reading “Keep The Christ In CHRISTmas”.
FUCK I felt like laughing in his ignorant face.

The actions of the public at large that I dealt with also made me see a huge problem with the Christmas holidays. People running around, stressing out and (often) taking on debt, just in purchasing gifts. Gifts for people that more often then not, just do not NEED them.

It was a silly cycle that I gave up in 2009.

Some magazines and web articles recommended a slow transition to not giving gifts, but I thought that was just ridiculous. It is MY money that is going on the gifts, so I could care less what the non-recipients think. Since I do not purchase, then  I do not expect anything.
And I picked up a new habit.
Rather then spend a bunch of money on various gifts for people that will likely not utilize them very often, I just divide up  the money I would have spent on gifts, and donate  to a number of  charity’s.

One of the reasons for this, is my feeling that the Christmas holidays is a time for giving and charity. Though many interpret that as not sparing a cent on gifts for close friends, relatives and others in their social circles, this seems to me, either an misunderstood value, or one that is convenient for capitalism. Either way, since deciding to blaze my own trail in terms of my personal “generosity”, I have felt more satisfied.
One thing that surprised me, was how powerful the instinct to give presents is in some people. Even in cases where the person may not like the recipient for whatever reason, or the giver does not have the funds to give (and have to ask to borrow it), they still consider it borderline insane to NOT give a gift.
But I sort of understand this phenomenon to. In these modern times, the holidays have become about commercialization and consumerism. Be it food or general merchandise (gifts!), every holiday is selling something. And being many people have grown up in front of a TV set, where cartoons and shows are increasingly becoming commercials themselves, its not surprising that many are developing “entitlement”,  when it comes to the gifting and receiving of gifts.
Its still annoying as hell at times, but understandable. The power of commercialism is as permeating, if not more so, then religion. This explains televangelists. The best of both worlds.

For me, holidays are a time to have fun and enjoy the company of whoever is present. My gifting has scaled back to the point of none this year. And even in terms of carols and holiday greetings, I have become understanding and ambiguous. I don’t care if many are about Jesus or god, they are just songs that I grew up with. And I never REALLY took them to heart even when I was young, so why should I be awkward about it now?

And as for how you greet me in the holiday season, I will not get “offended” no matter what you say. You can even say Merry Christmas, and I will not care. I even say (or write) Merry Christmas to some people. It depends on the audience. For example, with my Christmas cards, some people got Merry Christmas, some got Happy Holidays, and those who I know didn’t like the holidays got neither, replaced with a more personalized message.
No greeting is offensive, because all greetings are just words. And in westernized society, almost no one TRULY  gives a hoot about the TRUE meaning of their holidays anyway. Actions speak louder then words.

Keep in mind, I WILL get ticked off and call out your bullshit, if you are one of those people attempting to hijack holidays for your ideology (“Keep the CHRIST in CHRISTmas!” ). Such actions are intolerant to far more groups then just the secular oriented ones.

But otherwise, holidays for me, are just a time of year, where you make it whatever you want. Most of the “traditions” and “rituals” were stolen to begin with anyway, so make your own.

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