I became an atheist some years ago, after being raised in a strict catholic household. Having celebrated Christmas with my family every year, I refused to give it up. I thought I really didn't have to since it was the Christians who "borrowed" it from the pagans anyway! My husband is Spanish and he was also brought up in a Christmassy family. Every year it was a big thing for all of them to build a huge nativity scene, with houses, a river, even a duck pond! Here in Spain, it is a big tradition.
So every Christmas we fill our house with lights and we also put up a big tree, but the nativity scene tradition was not continued as it represented the catholic upbringing that we had left behind.
This year everything has changed though, and if you came to our house you would see a big nativity scene!
Surprised? Here is the reason: I'm a mother of two girls who so far have been too young to ask questions about Christmas. This year, however, my 4 yr old Andrea is asking a lot of questions about the nativity scenes that are everywhere you go, here in Spain.
One day, after looking at the nativity scene that they had put up at her non-religious school, I explained that people liked to celebrate the birth of a child that was born many, many years ago. So I said, "You can see the mommy, the daddy, and the baby, and all the people who came to see the baby and bring the mommy some presents."
She thought for a moment -probably remembering all the times we've looked at the photo album of her birth-, looked at me, and asked bluntly, "Mommy, is that baby Andrea?"
I repressed the laugh that was coming out and said: "Of course it is! How did you know?" then I added, "that baby could be you, or your sister, or any child!"
I spoke to my husband and we decided it was time to restart his childhood tradition! So now, on a little table that we set up in a corner of our living room, we have put up a nativity scene, representing, me, my husband, my two girls, and all the love we have for each other, which is, for us, the true meaning of this holiday!
Monica Torres, Spain