It’s time to put the Christ back in Christmas.
I’m just kidding. We don’t need to. It’s right there at the beginning of the word.
I mean, I know what people mean when they say that, but I’m an agnostic so I’m fine with the amount of Christ there currently is in Christmas. He’s in all those nativity scenes, and I invoke his name constantly in the car while stuck in holiday traffic, so I’m good.
It’s not that I’m anti-Christianity—in fact, I envy all people of faith, largely because I have a paralyzing fear of death and wish heaven was a real thing that women who sometimes sleep with people too soon and took mushrooms one time in college could get into.
Part of what I envy, though, is right there in the name. People of faith.
I wonder what it would be like to believe you know all the answers and therefore no longer have any questions. I question everything, all the time, and it’s exhausting.
And people of faith have holidays—literally holy days—they put aside to celebrate all the things they hold true.
I envied people of faith their holidays until I realized that while we don’t celebrate for the same reasons, I celebrate my faith at the same time of year they do.
I am a person for whom friendship is a religion.
Friends are where I gather all my strength.
Friends are where I find all my joy.
Friends are my confessors, my moral compass, and where I go to make sense of the unexplainable, like the science parts in Interstellar.
When I’m upset, my friends come to me and we pray together. Well, not so much pray together as cry and eat bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers while binge-watching Orange is the New Black, but the idea’s the same.
Around the holiday season, our churches are our houses. We come together and take communion in the form of casseroles with crispy onions on top and too many bottles of red wine.
And when I’m shaken to my core by a profound loss, my friends don’t try to make sense of it or remind me that it’s all part of some larger plan. They sit with me through the pain, no matter how long it takes, and tell me horrible, filthy jokes until I’ve forgotten what I lost for just long enough to laugh again. And they do that again and again.
If that doesn’t give you faith, I don’t know what will.
So, fellow People of No Faith, take heart. You have a religion. And the holiday season is when you celebrate it, by gathering together with the very reason you have faith in humanity: your friends.