During the holiday season, I tend to shelter myself from the overtly religious displays of the season by remembering that there are many people that I love dearly who truly enjoy the spirit of it all. There are even members of my family whose entire year culminates on the 25th of December. And to be perfectly honest, this is all fine by me because I can live with most of what I'm exposed to. Plus, I'm not afraid to admit that I'm a simple man... when my family members are enjoying themselves, I'm enjoying myself.
I am content during the holiday season these days because I have walked on this planet long enough to find a balance with those that I don't necessarily agree with. Granted, it took several years for me to do so. Not to mention I'm one of the lucky few that had help finding my balance. Those of you that know me understand who it is I'm referring to: my lovely wife, Monica.
However, there are some people that I follow online who are still struggling with this time of year. I have read several blog posts in recent days where people are dealing with their first (or second or third) year without a Christ in Christmas. I finish reading their posts and I find myself feeling a bit depressed; as if I've traveled back in time many, many years ago to a younger me. I can still remember the feeling I had the first year of my atheism. There is this sense of loss, abandonment, anger... You want to talk to someone but you're still not strong enough to do it.
I also remember feeling alone, exposed. I just knew everyone could tell that I no longer believed, as if I suddenly had ATHEIST written in blood across my forehead. I even remember sitting with the family of a former girlfriend at church as I quietly bowed my head just in case one of them was watching me.
This all sounds very silly to me now. How could I have been that gutless? That submissive? That... young? It's almost too hard for me to trust my own memory, remembering the young man I was so many years ago.
But taking this walk down memory lane has done something I never expected. It has given me a new twinkle in my atheist eye. The words of others have made me realize that I was not alone. That even today, I share a common struggle with so many other people. Granted, my struggle has come and gone; and the generation behind me has to deal with the religious lunatics that my generation has created. But I can hope! I can hope that more and more young people will begin to discover life without the need for god.
And so, I would like to offer some well-deserved thanks to the younger generation of atheists. The last few months have been one of the few times in my life where the simple act of reading has given me such inspiration for the future.