Sunday, December 07, 2003

The Christmas tree went up today, midst feelings (for me, anyways) of hypocrisy. Christmas, in it's purest form, is the Stanley Cup of the Christian flavor of religions. The birth of Jesus Christ, the reason for the Catholics and Protestants to be. And here I am, singing songs about how glad I am that Jesus was born when I'm really just glad that I get a few days off work to hang out with my family and friends. I feel I've done my kids a disservice regarding all this Christmas stuff, too. Due to my information regarding Christianity, they wouldn't know the Holy Trinity from the Three Stooges.

I wasn't always this way. I was raised by Christian-ish parents, taken to a United (Protestant) church, became a member of the boys choir and sang Christian hymns right along with all the other slick-haired, young, rosy-cheeked boys. I learned to recite the Lord's Prayer from memory, understood how a service generally proceeded and even figured out what to do during communion. As I grew older and my weekends got busier with swim meets and vacations, my (and my family's) church attendance dropped off to pretty much nothing. As a teenager, Christmas Eve and Easter services were expected, but anything else was just a bonus.

Now I've become an adult with busy children and a family of my own and I am recalling the church experiences I've had away from my mom and dad. Since becoming an adult, I've had a couple of two-year runs where I've attended church regularly, usually drawn by favorable family circumstances (read: some extra time on Sunday), ministers that I've gotten along with well and/or the lure of singing (once again) in the choir. Right now, I have found the United church closest to my house to be a bit stuffy and non-welcoming. I haven't attended more than four times all year. Combine this with the reading and studying I've done of different religions and philosophies and suddenly I don't feel a real close affiliation with all the other hard-core Christians that are gearing up for the B-I-G celebration.

I'm still trying to firm up my beliefs and I've had a hard time trying to swallow the one-size-fits-all structure that most religions have for you; Christians in particular. For now, I'm going to just focus on the message that was wrapped around the visit of that Jewish carpenter to our lonely planet - hope for the human race, peace, tolerance for each other and gratefulness for those whom we love and who love us. I'll go to church (yes, the one that I feel weird about) on Christmas Eve and sing my favorite carols with a church organ vibrating my sternum in accompaniment. I'll shake hands with all the congregation, wishing them a merry christmas and wishing at the same time I could remember their names.

That'll have to do for this year.

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