Marilyn Mason’s 10 top tips for humanists this festive season.
Accept that Christmas Day is what we call 25 December and you’re not going to change that, any more that we humanists can rename Easter weekend, Eid, Divali, Passover… Enjoy the fact that it’s the one day of the year when almost everything is shut, you can’t shop, almost no one goes to work, the roads are empty… Relax.
Send a card if you want to keep in touch with friends at this time of year — as many people still prefer a hand-written card to an email. But if you think they wouldn’t appreciate a physical card, send an e-card instead and give the money you would have spent on cards and postage to a worthy (secular) charity like the BHA (or wherever you like). If you want to support a charity and send a card to your loved ones, then a great way to do that would be to buy the from the BHA’s range at 80p a card (in packs of 10).
Keep present-giving simple: give to those who need stuff, come to an agreement with those who don’t (which is most people past their youth). There is nothing particularly virtuous in buying things that people don’t need which will probably end up in a charity shop – you could cut out the middle-man and give the cash to charity instead.
See friends and family when it suits you and them — don’t get too hung up on 25 December (remember Christmas is no big deal for humanists). Most people have several relatives they feel obliged to visit on Christmas Day – make life easier for them by opting out of the competition for their presence and see them another time.
If you’re on your own over the holiday, just think — you can eat what you like, watch what you like on television, read a book, go to bed as early or late as you like… Relax.
Eat, drink, and be merry, but pace yourself. You don’t have to drink alcohol at breakfast time or eat Christmas pudding, mince pies and Christmas cake all on the same day – or at all. You don’t have to cook or eat turkey or Brussel sprouts if you don’t like them. Admittedly this is harder when you are a guest, but tiny helpings may help!
Feed the birds, and enjoy watching them eat the inevitable leftovers
Go for a walk somewhere lovely on Christmas or Boxing or New Year’s Day — roads will be empty if you time it right, and few other people will be out. Be prepared to wish the few a Happy Christmas and New Year.
Take pleasure in in singing. Not all Christmas songs or carols are religious, and music of all kinds can be very uplifting.
Focus on enjoying yourself. Christmas can be a pleasantly sociable or self-indulgent time of year if you don’t get too caught up in the competitive consumerist rush. Relax.