I posted a link to Fairytale of New York, the classic Christmas song written by the Pogues. My mother disagreed with my assertion that it was, in fact, one of the best Christmas songs ever written.
That got me thinking, that as an adult, or at some point as I became an adult, I had to redefine what Christmas, or for that matter any holiday, meant to me. I realized that this is one of the places that we non-theists, myself a humanist, really fall short. Theists have an intrinsic understanding of what a holiday should be, the stories, the legends, the fables behind their religions holidays.
As a non-theist I understand the holiday, from a religious perspective, but I lack the intrinsic sub-conscious feel of a holiday. So, as part of growing up I had to decide what each holiday meant to me as I had no spiritual default to fall back on. I began, as I'm sure we all do, with my parents idea of Christmas, I can tell you the traditions, the cinnamon buns on Christmas morning, that you open your stockings, have breakfast and then open your gifts, I remember the music too, Neil Diamond, the Carpenters, and the Dubliners. Those songs evoke in me a feeling of what Christmas meant to me as a child, a sort of sonic nostalgia.
However, as I came of age I realized Christmas did not feel, for me, the way it did for my parents. Christmas, to me, was a quiet time, a time to sit in front of the fire with a cup of coffee, safe from the cold. It's not that I was not merry, I just felt a sense of quiet, as if I loathed to disturb the quiet of the snow, the unbroken sheet of white, and that quiet had come into me, and in so doing, my idea of Christmas changed. I now thought of Christmas as a time to reflect back, to think of things done, of friends known, and dreams either fulfilled, or abandoned. My Christmas is quieter, softer, and when my children think back on Christmas it will be the Fairytale of New York they will remember.