T’was The Night Before Christmas, 1946*

‘Twas the night before Christmas, 1946, and my extended family was gathered around a festive Christmas dinner table when my dad asked us to bow our heads for the traditional blessing. He began with “Thank you Lord for this bountiful meal, and your blessings.” He then continued with his standard blessing concluding with. “and Bless Grandma Ruth, Cousin John, Nephew Tony, and Little Jacob, who are in heaven looking down on our Christmas table. I tried to picture my brother Jacob, our most recent loss due to mom’s miscarriage, as he looked down on us from heaven, but could not.

Later that evening before I drifted off to sleep, I asked asked himself “What was I praying for? Mom cooked the meal with the help of Aunt Emily and Dad paid for the meal.“ We lost four family members, all within the last year. All, especially Jacob, were a terrible loss to us. Worst of all, my dear dad coughed his way through the blessing with the deadly disease that would end his traditional Christmas blessings for good.

The words “Thank you Lord” didn’t make sense to me, and although I continued to attend church for my Mom’s sake after dad’s death, those words stuck in my throat and were never uttered again.

As a teenager, I became aware I could no longer thank a deity who took loved ones from me; who sanctioned wars and inquisitions, and in his magnificent wisdom and power, allowed plagues and starvation to devastate innocent populations of prayerful worshipers. Even then in my youth, I thought it was shameful that all the religions made excuses for themselves and their gods. Their gods never took the responsibility when things went wrong but always took the credit when things went right. It didn’t take a genius to figure it out.

Now, sixty-five years later, my wife and I say a “blessing of sorts” at Thanksgiving and Christmas meals when we are the hosts. The blessing never mentions a deity. It always acknowledges those of our family who are no longer with us and those not as fortunate as we are. After we finish, some of our family might mumble “In Jesus’s name, Amen”. We don’t say a word about it. Let them worship as they wish if it makes them feel better.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to my readers.

* A fictional story







About cgosling

I am a retired medical/scientific illustrator and creator of patient teaching simulators, who has given up illustration to write about science, superstition, and secular humanism. I consider myself all of the following: atheist, agnostic, secular humanist, freethinker, skeptic, and nature lover. I have several published books but the mass of my writing is unpublished. I write children's fiction, poetry, essays, and several plays and radio theater shows, that are available as free downloads to be used on secular podcasts and meetings. They can be heard on Indy Freethought Radio or on YouTube “secularradiotheater”. I hope some of my writings will be of interest to like minded freethinkers who I cordially invite to respond. I am also a Darwin impersonator. I invite readers to listen to and use the Darwin script for secular purposes.
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2 Responses to T’was The Night Before Christmas, 1946*

  1. rdboyle@ix.netcom.com says:

    Craig,   Thanks for the Christmas story.  But your asterisk has me confused somewhat.  Is the story complete fiction or is it partially  autobiographical with some “dramatic license”? I have to assume that it is not purely autobiographical because of your disclaimer but is it essentially true with some embellishment?  Either way, I liked the story and identified with it since I started asking unwelcome and embarassing questions at an early age and never got satisfactory answers.   Best wishes for the season and the future,   Richard  

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