This particular time of year for the atheist mother is an interesting one. Not that I'm overly fond of the word atheist, I prefer irreligionist or maybe free-thinker.
Before I go on to explain why I describe the festive season as "interesting" I'll attempt to clear up a couple of points as I have no wish to antagonize or affront anyone.
My philosophy is one of respect for other people's views, beliefs and ideologies. I try to be tolerant and accepting. Frankly, I simply couldn't care a flying fig what you choose to believe in.
Come to my door in a M&S suit, a smarmy smile and a pamphlet when I'm in the middle of "Wonders of the Solar System" though and you will get short thrift. Admittedly, in that particular scenario, my philosophy of tolerance and acceptance might not be immediately apparent.
Bringing up a child in a predominantly Christian culture can present challenges for your typical heathen. I do not intend to force my beliefs (or lack of them) onto Finje, but at the same time, I have an issue with those who take it upon themselves to tell my child that the butterfly which had just lit up her face in a smile of pleasure is a "miracle sent from God". Would the woman who nonchalantly said that have objected to my telling her child Father Christmas doesn't exist I wonder?
My sincere hope is that my husband, a self proclaimed agnostic (read wimp) and I, can provide Finje with the knowledge she requires in order for her to make up her own mind over time. Inform but don't brainwash being my mantra. There will be no avoidance of challenging questions when the time comes and in fact I look forward to the discussions. At present she's pretty much focused on the big guy with the sleigh.
Father Christmas is of course a pagan figure so we talk about him a lot. Also Rudolph, who I understand has no religious affinities, crops up frequently in conversation.
I did have cause to wonder though if we had indeed gone a bit too far in our avoidance of all things celestial, when she opened up her advent calendar door this morning. After watching her remove the foil covered chocolate treat from its casing, I asked her what the figure was today.
"It's a woman with a rucksack"
It was an angel.