I love Christmas time. The general kindness from people around me makes me feel all warm and fussy.
I'm the only atheist in my family, but it really hasn't bothered me, since they've never seemed fundamental or intrusive in any way. I announced my atheism about a year ago, and all I got was a "why", which I answered as well as I could, and then an "ok", and that was pretty much it. I've always lived a pretty secular life, so my lifestyle didn't change much, but my way of looking at things kinda did.
But yesterday my whole image of the secular family I live in was shattered. Now, I want to make it clear that I would never try to force my lack of belief on my family, just as they never force their belief on me. Yesterday, as we were eating dinner, I asked my little brother if he knew what was special about the day. He said it was a Tuesday, I told him he was correct, but that wasn't it. He said it was the 21st, and I said that he
was getting on the right track. I then shortly explained that yesterday was the darkest day in the whole year, and how the cycle worked. My mother and middle brother knew this, of course, and they also explained some details.
I then told my brother about our ancestors who used this day as the start of their holiday, which they called Hjól (I'm Scandinavian, my ancestors were Norse), which means "wheel" (referring to the cycle of light and darkness), that it lasted until the 25th, and that that's where our name for Christmas, Jól, was originally from. My mother gave me a dead serious look, reminding me that, no, it's not pagan, it's the date that Jesus was born. Patiently I explained that the Bible actually said nothing about Jesus being born on the 25th, let alone December, and the date was most likely set because it had symbolic value. Again, she looked at me. "No, Jesus was born then". I'm not sure if she said this to "protect" my from the evils of knowledge, or if she was simply being willfully ignorant. I planned on talking to her about the dangers or historic denial and willful ignorance, but I never got around to it.
Maybe I'm being a little over-sensitive, but I just hate seeing the people that I love dwell in ignorance, especially when I feel that I can do something about it. I guess the whole point of this blog is to point out that even when we think we know a Christian as a rational person who is open to new information, they can disappoint.
Does anyone else have a similar experience? Did you overcome it? If yes, how so?