Christmas for the non-religous

I stopped celebrating Christmas as a religious event, about ten or more years ago. I cannot exactly recall. But I still observe it as communion with my family, friends and the community of love and friendships that I am fortunate to receive.

My fall out with religion happened after I came to the United States years ago, once I slowly realized that the religions that were taught to me growing up  – Protestant and Pentecostal – and the words of the Bible taught to me, were in fact, not exactly universal.
See, plenty of us in Africa met Christianity through the words, eyes and color of a white man, who was also the color of the savior (JC), the preachers (colonial missionaries), and the doer (political administrator) and giver of good things, blessings and alms (the humanitarian worker). So, we believed all the words the whiteman said that the bible said, and saw only goodness of the white man. Stories claimed that the white preachers and missionaries in Africa drank beer while reprimanding their African followers for committing sin by drinking alcohol. But we thought the Africans who spread such stories were haters of the white man, who would burn in hell on judgement day. Well, Christianity is all about Heaven v Hell or JC v the world. So, there are only two options for us all.  The preachings I consumed enjoined us not to associate with people who did not believe in JC because they were evil and would lead us astray. We listened and lived by that, sacrilegiously. So, as a keen and active follower of JC, I stayed away from drinking alcohol or smoking, except for the years I fell out of god’s path and sinned.Once I fell back onto the right path of christian living, I resumed the “godly” ways. No alcohol, no smoking, no talking terrible about others, no fornication, no supporting war.
Then, when I came to America, I was confused when I met preachers and others who confessed Christianity drinking, smoking, engaging in adultery, fornication, and supporting, blessed and fighting wars. My christian heart was broken! Still, I kept my Christian friends, and went to their gatherings whenever invited, although with growing skepticism. The more I began to identify with the black experience in America, read about the history of black folks in America, and how the white man dehumanized, humiliated, murdered, tortured them, simply for the color of their skin, I became disgusted with all things white. Moreover, because Christianity is closely associated with the white man, whose white skin is the pervasive color of god and JC, and who brought it to the lands of my origin, the white man and his inventions brought a sour taste in my mouth. Notice I am using whiteman, because “the man” not “woman” was indeed purveyor of colonialism and its relatives – Christianity, European education.
Thankfully, the many years of traveling and living around the world and here in America, have allowed me to transcend that hatred and bitterness  for the white man. I have made friends and great relationships with plenty of white men, who come in multiple layers, some without a religion of practice. They identify either as atheists, scientologists, muslims, yogis or nothing at all. They are humans and believe in a world fair to others. In any case, there is no black struggle that has not involved everyday white folks, using their position and privilege to support a movement for justice and human dignity.
Still, I have developed a great disdain for organized religion, and prefer not to label myself anything. “Humanity” would pass as my religion, since we were humans before we were any religion. While I have completely dropped religion, I still allow myself the opportunity to accept others who believe and associate with religion. I strongly believe it is not my job to judge whether one is right or wrong, as long as their actions do not infringe upon my right to be. I am an out-of-the-box person – the way I dress, speak, think and live my life. I like to challenge myself, without being boxed into “normalcy” or anybody else’s expectations. While my female friends were signed onto the epidural even before they got pregnant, I practiced kegels, did meditation, squats, walking and all natural stretches during my pregnancy, so I could deliver my baby natural with no drugs administered. In my running group, I was the only “SHE” who went for the 42.2 KM full marathon. So, I live the life of dare to dream; dare to be different; dare to excel.
So, I will not stop or condemn everyone I do not agree with. Everyone has a right to be here!
In the words of Vanessa Williams……
You think you own wherever land you land on
The Earth is just a dead thing you can claim
But I know every rock and tree and creature
Has a life, has a spirit, has a name
My early years in America, it was possible to skip Christmas day because I live on my own without my family or partner. Simple, I stayed  at home, did not switch on TV or radio, watch movies, ate popcorn, typed away on my laptop, went jogging and slept. But in my post-home internet and Facebook age, how can I run away from that inconvenient truth? Especially now that I am with a toddler who loves and strongly believes in everything PBS for Kids? True, I have let him watch PBS, ever since l found out that he learns from it. How can I keep him away from the joys of waiting for Santa to down the chimney, when all his classmates talk about Santa, his class projects including drawing and coloring a christmas tree and Curious George talks about Santa.
Whereas I am not going to celebrate Christmas as a religion, I am still going to honor my son, my family and friends who have over the years invited me to be in their midst to partake of their joy with them, without pushing me to go to church or say prayers. I am sure they are still uncomfortable with my nonreligious stand, but they have come to grips with it. And I have no problem contributing to communal celebrations with food, drinks and gifts. It is a family tradition.
Last night, before my son went to bed, I showed him the chimney where Santa climbs down and delivers gifts. I have not said much more…or that, “only kids on good behavior receive gifts from santa”, because I do not want to “bribe” him nor program his good behavior to being rewarded with gifts.
In response to a FB friend, who wrote that those who celebrate Christmas are honoring a pagan event, promoting consumerism, believe in the falsehood of the Christmas tree, are cosmetizing their sins, and buying into the illusionary santa. I wrote this. response:
“Lol! I thought you spared me from this list….since I:
1) worship at only my altar; 
2) think about my family 365/366 days; 
3) I am without sin; 
4) have no green thumb - trees don't want me to plant them; 
5) my religion is humanity!
 
But then, i kinda fell short on consumerism and sharing"... Lol..and here's my excuseYes, I have a chimney, and I am that "fat man"...I am slim and slender and fit perfectly through my 
chimney ....I make no mention nor explanation of Xmas whatsoever! In fact, he does not remember 
celebrating Xmas with my family in Uganda last year! So, I want to give my son a chance to keep 
imagining and fantasizing. To keep dreaming.. So, he can form innovations in his head...and can become an inventor at 6 years old...make toys, make that machine that he has promised me, that stops the 
snow from falling...and so, I let him imagine tooth fairy exists, as does Halloween...lol again"
For that reason, I let santa down the chimney last night, and left a package. Once my son wakes up, he will be thrilled to check and find something for him.
Dream on Babe, dream on! Santa came to your chimney! And when you wake up, go re-invent the world, as you promised.. It is your Wonderland! 
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Of COURSE! SSENGA’s Have a Place in Modernity!

Funny how plenty of folks are quick to dismiss traditions in many cultures as “archaic”, “barbaric” and without a place in “modern society”. By modern society, most are often referring to anything deemed western, specially European and North American, and unmodern as particularly African or Asian (outside Japan maybe). Such people include Africans I know…and Africa-exposed Westerners. It is often a talk of “us v. them”, which for the most part divides into two camps of “dismissive v. defensive”.

I was more intrigued recently by a member in this fb group which calls itself “Freethought Uganda”, posting a link about a Belgian electing to die by euthanasia after blocked sex change: 
 
He then added, “Everybody has the right to decide on their own life. I admire my, government to have put such laws in place. In other countries they cane the corpse of someone who committed suicide
 
For that, he got 5 *LIKES*, including this comment from a person with Uganda sounding names, “I to agree with a person’s right to choose” [sic].
 
Grrrrr! Cut this crap…I wanted to add, “And in other countries, the law denies the right to choose.” 
 
But I chose not engage this lot–and instead do what I know best…blog about it…
I am trying not to engage this lot in any discussion ever again, even though I am still a member of the group. I am even tempted to follow their founder to quit the group…but hanging there as looking in…Because I know for sure, my style is anti-freethought Kampala.  Unlike them, I am not deluded by the fallacy of liberalism. I am intolerant of intolerance of others that do not think, act or are “not like us”. That’s pretty much my summation of the attitude of FTK – Free Thought Kampala
 
ImageThis bunch of FTK is intolerant! They do not like anything outside their “little mindset of what is acceptable”. They have not exercise their “freethought” to create “original thinking”.  Among them, “free thought” is not a “free-for-all”. Instead, “FTK is equated to “thinking and adhering to mainstreamed western thinkers and what is “politically correct in the west”. For instance, you have to be “pro-abortion”, “pro-gay”, anti-female genital exercises”, “anti-religion” [and anti-anti gods], pro-Darwism, pro-population control by contraceptives, pro-English…or whatever is along those lines….They dismiss the need to learn the predominant language within Uganda where they live and grow up, but will proudly brag about speaking multiple languages of the west – English, French, Spanish [and now Chinese]. They will jump onto any rhetoric about population control because “Africa is overpopulated and we need to stop everyone from having more babies.” They applaud “single unmarried life” as “an epitome of freedom and sound judgement”. They justify their profiling of all muslims as terrorists with shallow nonsensical regurgitation of western media failings to recognize that the roots of evil are not devoid of political suffering. Mmany dismiss racism as pity parties, victimhood mentality and sour grapes by blacks who have failed to “move on” or “pull themselves up by their own boot strips. OR as “naturally acceptable not to like everyone based on their ethnicity,” one said. Anything at par…
 
..They will shut you down as a “bigoted black nationalist”, because you replied to a thread in defense of Native American culture. Ironically, these “freethoughts” have pre-determined that anybody who defends traditional or nation-groups cultures, and has a “black-sounding name…is a “bigoted black racist who hates white people”. You will not get too much support for thinking about the box OR for trying to point out the there is no perfect world, and no country without pockets of thugs, street beggars, poor. You are wrong to suggest that the west is not “rich”, that English is not a superior culture, and should not be promoted as a “must learn/must speak language of the world. They do not see a place for multiple languages or minority languages to be nurtured to international status.  That formal education is not for everyone, is an oxymoron. And you are more wrong to suggest that we should hang onto our cultures and not allow to get swallowed into the “globalizing world”. You are archaic, barbaric and an abomination to identify as a proud Muganda who loves her Kabaka and heritage, because that is divisive and archaic. 
 
They will dismiss Ssengas, paternal aunts in Buganda, for instance, who passed down wisdom to their brothers daughters when coming of age as teenage girls and in preparation for marriage. These, apparently area  “violation of the right to individual freewill.” Yet, even in “the modern west”, Ssengas are still important and highly paid as “relationship counselors”. Did they know that, yes, western men also love “traditional women”, who are willing to stay at home, while putting their brains and independent thinking to run the family and fulfill their exciting and ambitious life goals. Why do you think American men, keep skipping their  “my mechanic is a woman” and run to Eastern Europe and Asia for marriage? 
 
True, dating might fetch you a one night stand, but even if you belong to the Millionaires Club, abstinence and cupid have more chances of hooking you up to a longterm relationship. And no! courting is not old fashioned! Go ahead and “go dutch”, but be prepared to go home alone and enjoy your big a$%e mansion. Why do you care looking around anyway, if you have and would rather keep all you have? Even Simon Cowell has left “fantasy land”, to accept that he needs someone who will hold his walking stick when the time comes around, and make him feel human.
 
So, go on, talk to yourselves, applaud each one of your same mind. But do not call yourselves “Freethought”…unless of course you meant “Freethought devoid of critical thinking and intolerant of religion, culture and traditions”.