Spoiler Alert: Totally took Christ out of Christmas.
My partner and I put up the tree on Christmas Eve, dressed it in purple and gold garlands, strung it with purple and cool white lights. The first ornaments were brand new gifts to each other, as part of our new tradition: a solstice pagan scene and a Brigid’s cross, purchased from an Etsy artist. Then last year’s gifts, a white raven (my partner’s) and the Celestial Cow (mine), as well as a pair of owl siblings (from Saryt). The tree was my mom’s mother’s tree, and I built it so my partner could decorate it with all of their childhood ornaments, mine having been lost in too many moves. Christmas music played: The Piano Guys, Pentatonix, Heather Alexander & Alexander James Adams, Heather Dale, and Saryt’s Moomas carols.
We were up until 2 am. I put bows on the unwrapped packages that had arrived in the mail and slid them beneath the fake boughs, then woodburned a small gift for the person who’d invited us to a close-friends-only holiday dinner on Christmas day. A fire flickered in the fireplace, more a source of light than heat, for all that Texas had seen fit to fall to about 40*F that night.
This was the first Christmas in a long time that neither of us were going home to family. No epic roadtrip back to the snowy mountains of Nevada—and it had been half a dozen years or more since I’d made the longer trek back to the Appalachians to have Christmas with my own mother. It was just us, and it was cozy and happy, though we missed our homes-away-from-home.
Under the tree was a gift to my Mother Nebt-het from me. Pagan and Kemetic songs mingled with Christian ones in my playlist. My partner is best described as an agnostic pagan, and I’m happily Kemetic with a side of eclectic pagan. Neither of us are Christian, but there we were, celebrating Christmas.
And that’s okay.
Plenty of pagans and polytheists don’t want to touch anything Christian with a ten-foot pole, which is also okay. Each person can make their own choice about how to interface with other religions and traditions. Myself, I grew up with Christmas being more of a cultural holiday, and it brought me joy; I’ve chosen to keep that joy with me as an adult, as a Kemetic. For me, Christmas is about family, about warmth, about light, and about love, all in a season of darkness and cold and scarcity—and while I acknowledge that it has come to represent to many modern Americans negative things like commercialism, excessive materialism, and blind obligations, it doesn’t mean that to me.
I find it’s important to remember that a thing that brings one person joy can also mean something else far less joyful to someone else, and vice versa. But that shouldn’t stop us from finding joy where we can, especially in a season of long nights and cold weather.
Happy holidays to you all, whatever you may celebrate. And if you celebrate nothing at all, I wish you warmth, peace, and joy.