Question of the Week: Secular Xmas Stories

Dec 17, 2013

Got a heartwarming secular holiday story? Tell us just a paragraph and we'll contact the best authors to write their story in full and be featured in next week's newsletter.


Submit your short paragraphs in the comments below!


Contest ends December 24th.


The winners will also get copies of Richard Dawkins' An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist.


Written By: RDFRS
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18 comments on “Question of the Week: Secular Xmas Stories

  • 1
    VanYoungman says:

    Many, many, many years ago in the mountains of Pennsylvania when I was 5 I was a firm believer in Santa Clause. Our family dentist, Dr. Welker (a devout atheist married to Peggy a devout catholic) and a neighbor would go to great lengths to entertain the neighborhood children by hiring the local Sherriff (who looked liked Santa) to come into his house and distribute gifts to about 10 of us kids. Peggy did not believe in birth control.

    One of us who was almost 7 (and later would obtain a Phd in geology only to die young in a tragic car accident in Texas) doubted the existence of Santa. When we were asked if we would like to take a ride with Santa when he left we all shouted “Yes!” except for Eddie the geologist to be who pooh poohed the whole thing.

    When it came time for Santa to leave, we suddenly heard the loud jingling of bells from the outside. We all jumped up ready for the ride, except for Eddie. Somehow he had lost his shoes and there would have to be a search. Santa said he couldn’t wait and took off in a hurry. No ride for any of us. Turns out when the “reality” of going on a sleigh ride with St. Nick, Eddie had kicked his shoes under the couch on which he was sitting.

    72 years later as a card carrying RDF contributor I adhere to the moral of this story. “When in doubt, take off your shoes.”

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  • 2
    Light Wave says:

    I camped and hiked through billion year old gorges of remote Western Australia after a marathon 16 hour drive… the blazing heat and red dust – around christmas week a few years back….It was bliss to be so far from civilization and all notions of a western world view of Christmas..
    It was the most un Christmassy thing I’ve managed to do so far and….I hope the first of many more to come…..

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  • Latvians have no word for Christmas with a Christ in it – 25th of December is a Winter Feast. And this day is my first ever memory – me, my mother and sister are sitting in the 2 to 3 meters kitchen, making gingerbread cookies. We have no special cutters, but sand molds are even better. The dough is brown, I am anxious to enjoy freshly baked cookies and at the same time very proud of myself as a baker, because my dad, who is snoring in the bedroom, will certainly enjoy cookies I have made….

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  • 4
    000030383 says:

    Living in a coastal town, I have been beachcombing and decided to make holiday trees out of driftwood. I simply drill a hole in the middle of the driftwood, and slide it down a central metal shaft. The pieces get shorter as they rise from the base, looking like a traditional Xmas tree, and then adorned with a santa hat on the top (or something similar). We call them a Solstice Tree, can be any height and are very popular with my family and neighbors (mine is over 9 ft tall). I have made several, and can be decorated with lights, garland, seashells, starfish, etc. Many of the recipients love that they are non-religious, but still very festive and decorative. They certainly generate lots of talk about secularism and atheism. A win-win!

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  • [Fiction] Adams42 is the first artificial intelligence passing the Turing Test, taking on a combination of male and female persona. People are getting nervous. The world human media is abuzz, worried that artificial intelligences will take over the world. In trying to become more human, Adams42 works hard to learn more about humanity. SheAndHe (pronounced She-Andy) discovers the importance of tradition, ceremonies and rituals that help humans connect in cohesion to reaffirm and rejuvenate community values and revere the potential of human dignity. As part of this exploration, Adams42 eventually befriends a young girl, Momo, who happens to be very talented with technology. Momo convinces Adams42 to help deprived school children in a remote school in Vladamia (a fictitious country). The students need books, food and clean water (The books are smart watches acting as interactive tutors). During the Winter Solstice, Momo and Adams42 launch a fundraising project using the Internet, by adapting John Lennon’s Imagine. They convey a message of hope, and ‘make it so’ spirit to improve the lives of the school children. The project includes tapping into other parts of global infrastructure to control networks of 3D printers to manufacture toys. Some new collaborators join in to help. Remote delivery vehicles bring toys, books, and food to families. The school children revel in the mysteries of the natural world, learning many fascinating things more marvellous and inspiring than myths and legends. Adults in the school community find their inner child.

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  • Celabrating one more revolution around the Sun,. fun with family and friends,. yearly donations to favorite charities. Was always like this…far back as 1974. before that I had Idenity issues. didn’t have much thought of any religion. Always too everything at face value not a “spiritual” person. In my 20’s I was a very “hedonistic”. also “Autistic”- Read “Baba Ram Dass” alias Richard Alpert’s book “Be Here Now” came to revaluation God=brain!! At present time I feel that
    Science, Education and Thinking are the only way to future human success.

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  • I’m an Atheist born in a Hindu family.I’ll be celebrating Christmas (a Christian Holiday) in a Muslim country (Turkey).I have nothing more to add.

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  • 8
    joanna.suarez.79 says:

    People ask me all the time, “Why do you celebrate Christmas if you are an Atheist?”… This year more than ever everyone asks me and so I respond with, because it is tradition and I grew up Atheist celebrating. But in reality it is because the holiday does not belong to Christians it belongs to the Pagans! But I do not say this because religious people are very sensitive 😉 …. I raise my son to think logically as an Atheist, and I want him to feel the magic of Christmas, so I push for him to believe in Santa. Every child has to feel the magic! It was really hard for him to believe, because he would think about it too much. He believes now of course! I love the magic of Christmas…. I spend the holidays like I want! I do not need to celebrate a birthday of a guy who has been dead for thousands of years. I celebrate family and tradition 🙂 Sundays? I am lazy and cozy and sometimes we go to my in law’s house to hang out! I love being an Atheist 🙂

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  • In short: A December not long ago, I lost faith in most specimens of the human race, made a decision to follow the secular path, grew a beard and renounced Santa Claus as my magical christmas man. From the charred remains of my childhood Christmas, a new set of traditions was born. The new male figure of Christmas is MANta Claus, who – according to the not-so-ancient legend – directs you to the finest tree in the forest for you to cut down and decorate with your family and the best of friends. The only holiday spirit in my “neo-christmas” is that of the traditional Aquavit, that accompanies the lamb ribs traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve. Even the English name of the holiday has changed. Instead of commemorating Christ, I have chosen to celebrate a week in the name of everything that symbolizes neutrality, and gives associations to high mountain peaks and white winter weather: I welcome you to celebrate Swissmas.

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  • 10
    Esilva27 says:

    Born in a dominant Hispanic catholic U.S state like New Mexico, put a lot of pressure on me and my family during the holidays. The food is delicious and the music is timeless. The downfall is the deep rule of catholic dogma especially when you become open minded. It seemed like the holidays were kind of a war zone. Eventually I hit rock bottom, with my family kind of shunning me for failing in there eyes; I began to question my faith. At this time I became friends with a wonderful atheist who really took the time to understand me, and not in a lenient way but a more down to earth approach on how to get back on my feet. That Christmas that I met him he cooked dinner and let me stay the night as we talked about things I felt were out of my reach. I still wonder what my Christmas would be like without such an experience!

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  • Since I became an atheist some years ago I refuse to give up Christmas, which in any case, was not a christian holiday to begin with!
    In my house we usually put up a tree but this year we have also included a nativity scene. Surprised? Here is the reason:
    I’m a mother of two girls. So far they’ve been too young to ask questions about christmas but this year my 4 yr old is asking a lot of questions about the nativity scenes that are everywhere you go, here in Spain. I explained that people liked to celebrate the birth of a child that was born many many years ago. She then asked me if she was that child! And I said, of course! It could be you, or your sister, or any child. So now, we also have a nativity scene in my house, representing, me, my husband and my two girls and all the love we have for each other, which is, for me, the true meaning of this holiday!

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  • 12
    PhillyHC says:

    Both my sons have always been fairly original thinkers. My youngest – Max -, when five, was asked by his teacher to draw a picture of “something close” and “something far away” – he drew a picture of Australia (we lived in England at the time) and his eyelashes.

    At Xmas, he came home very pleased to show me the “card” he’d made for us, the family. It was a wonderful drawing of a jolly man in a sleigh, flying across the night sky, with elves holding presents, some of them apparently still assembling them… it was entitled “Santa and His Slaves”.

    …. Always cutting to the truth of things, our Max.

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  • 13
    dakotakitteh says:

    As a small child, maybe about 4-5 years of age, I decided that I wanted to see Santa Claus. On Christmas Eve, I went and watched around corners and in the reflections of objects to try and just catch a glimpse, some sort of wonder I’d always had, I guess because people had never been too straight forward about the “facts” about Santa, to me. Flying around to everybody in the world in a night just didn’t seem… possible. So as it gets late, I see it all. It was almost overwhelming to me at the time, not understanding how my parents could make up SO MUCH information and facts about something that doesn’t really exist, yet still have me almost completely convinced of it. I figured it was something they used to tell kids to be good. My true gift that Christmas wasn’t an object, but a greater understanding of how the world/life actually is. An understanding of how people can be, and how everything needs to be questioned. That gift has stayed with me, and has grown to be much much more than it started off as. Happy holidays!

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  • 14
    Danistori says:

    I was born into a chrstian cult called “The Way International”. I was born in the States, but when I was 9 month old we were sent around the world to spread a lie of religion like a infectious virus. We travelled the world starting in South Africa, ironically only 40 KM away from the cradle of human kind, and ended in England. At 13 we left this cult, but my parents still held tightly to the belief in a god. Our Christmases were filled with religiosity, and it became the focal point of our year. I’ve travelled the world to see hunger, pain, and repression to only be feed with empty words with abusive messages. Christmas was spent preaching rather than giving to the starving masses in society, and I was scolded for trying to actually give food; something of actual worth.

    Today, I sit thankful, slightly scared, and a tad bit angry. I live in America now. My partner is a neurophysiologist; who is now a professor, and I am studying to be a high school biology teacher. We are both avid Atheists. We are the only house without the ubiquitously superfluous christmas lights and decoration hung outside. I went to the grocery store only to be bombarded with a church choir singing songs about Jesus whilst I had one of my high school students commit suicide by hanging himself with Christmas lights from a tree in the back yard, and my 6 year old little girl went to watch a parade and was literally pushed to the back by a very large middle aged woman. People are so busy pushing their agendas, and that is what this holiday has become, a time to push either people around or your own agenda. What did I do this year? I pushed for the truth of evolution in college and highschools, and I donated money to actually help people. This holiday shouldn’t be like the cult I grew up in; mindless spreading lies and being self indulgent. This holiday should be about doing good in the world, and was my goal for this year.

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  • 15
    Margaretrc says:

    I don’t know if this counts, but tomorrow night, I am going to join 150 – 200 people to walk through Skid Row in LA and donate food, clothing and other items to the homeless. As far as I know, the organizers of this event have no religious affiliation–it’s a hiking meetup group. We are going to spend about 6 hours among the homeless. It’s just the kind of activity I’ve been looking for since I became an atheist/agnostic and stopped going to church. I plan to make it an annual jaunt, I think. The thought of staying up all night is a little daunting, but I’ll eat some chocolate. 🙂

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  • 17
    mrs. bookworm says:

    I used to not celebrate Christmas at all – as someone who doesn’t believe in the religious story behind it, I didn’t see the point. As a teenager, on Christmas I would stay home alone as my family went to celebrate with relatives. As I’ve grown up, though, that has changed. Now I play secular Christmas music all month, go overboard decorating the house and even host family for Christmas morning breakfast. Why the change? For me, Christmas was never about Bible stories anyway – where in that book are reindeer, mistletoe, snowmen, decorated trees or gingerbread mentioned? We are celebrating ending one year and starting a new one, the turn in the seasons and days getting longer, and most of all, our family. I have a sister who is a nun and other very religious family members, and of course they attach a religious meaning to this time of year. Even though I don’t, I have now decided to enjoy reveling in this season of peace and joy together with them, regardless of our disparate reasons for celebrating.

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  • 18
    my_god_ate_my_homework says:

    We have winners! Light Wave, ieva, MTR, PhillyHC, mrs. bookworm, and Esilva27 each win a copy of An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist, by Richard Dawkins, and have been invited to write a longer version of their story for our Xmas issue, to cheer up some 2 million fans of Richard Dawkins who could use a smile during the most religious day of the year.

    Richard Dawkins Foundation

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