November 25, 2010

I Can Do Without Tradition

There are a great many things I have never understood about my fellow humans (e.g., taking pride in ignorance, praising belief without evidence in one domain while condemning it in most others, etc.). The one I want to address today is that of tradition: continuing to do things simply because one's family used to do them or because one's culture exerts pressure on us all to do them. I don't get it, and I refuse to participate in it.

Yes, I am one of the small number of American atheists who does not celebrate Christmas. It holds no meaning for me, representing Christianity, commercialism, and pointless cultural tradition. I certainly don't condemn anyone for celebrating it. If it means something to you, then have fun. All I've ever asked is that I receive the same courtesy.

Thanksgiving has never held any religious significance for me either. When I was a Christian, my family regarded Thanksgiving as a mostly secular holiday designed to celebrate gluttony and football. But I have never really enjoyed Thanksgiving either. In my youth, it was embarrassing to see my family give in to liberal guilt and invite people to dinner they never would have talked to the rest of the year. And then there were the years that we were told that we needed to pretend we were happy so as not to upset Grandma. But the worst were the years we spend Thanksgiving with families who did think of it as a religious holiday. And to top it all off, I was never crazy about the food served as part of the traditional dinner in my home.

Now that I am an adult and have the freedom to turn my back on the entire thing, that is exactly what I do. I don't care for turkey, and I'm not about to cook one just because my culture says I am supposed to. For me, this is a much-needed day off work. And on that basis, I will enjoy it. I may even watch some football.