Sunday, November 20, 2011

Atheists Missing Advent

My atheist friend finds herself yearning for Advent.

I could just leave that statement there.  We could celebrate the strange movements of the Holy Spirit.  But I want to explore a bit further.

My friend is German, and she pulled out some German books.  Even though I speak no German, the pictures were enough to let me know what tugged at her heartstrings:  cookies, decorations, candles--oh yes.

Her Advent childhood wasn't much different than my Advent childhood.  We both had Advent calendars, with windows that we opened each day.  We had Advent wreaths.  We baked all kinds of cookies.

My atheist friend is planning an Advent craft day on Dec. 3.  We will create some of the creations of her childhood.  My Wiccan friend will bring sugar cookies.  My Hindu friend will play along.  She's lived in this country long enough to understand the pull that Christmas has on us--plus, her German grandmother immigrated to India, so she has some connections to this holiday too.

So, is it the Holy Spirit at work?  Or do we get to a certain age and succumb to nostalgia?

For those of you who drag your children to church and force your families to celebrate in certain ways, if you wonder if it's worth it, if you wonder if it will all pay off, I'd have to say yes, based on the experiences I've had with my non-believer friends.

My atheist friend says, "Don't read too much into this.  I'm just using Advent as an excuse."

I say, "I know.  You're using Advent as an excuse to celebrate Advent."

I'm not pushing the issue too much.  I know that we can celebrate Christmas with absolutely no religious intent.  In fact, I know that even the most spiritual people can get lost in the commercialism of Christmas.  I've always been an advocate for the healthy things that bring us joy--and Advent traditions do that for many of us.

A week from today, Advent begins.  How will you celebrate?  How will you stay centered?


Wren said...

Haha! I did a Google search just for fun, thinking "there's no way I'm the only atheist who feels this way." I miss the singing and the decorations in church and candles and wreaths and the calendar! I still bake cookies, but I always loved the rituals of my Lutheran church, especially during Advent. I never had much in the way of faith, but I did adore the season. I guess I still do.

I think I might try to focus a little more on bringing some advent elements into my holiday season this year!

B.B. said...

I guess I am definitely an Atheist who yearns for advent. I don't feel any of the spirit I think it should have in the consumerist society around me, so I set myself to write a song for every day of the period, to try to create that spirit myself:

Kristin said...

Thank you both for your comments. I'm wishing a meaningful Advent for you both, in whatever shape that takes!