Today, we had another annual Christmas dinner in the small town of the Dalles, Oregon with my mom’s sister’s family. Yes, my aunt. The family of atheists. Christian-ridiculing atheists. Every year, my family and I make our way to their house. Every year, we say grace before dinner. Every year, either my father or I do it. This year, it happened differently.
Our two merged families, totaling ten bodies, gather around the table. It had be several hours since our last meal. We’re getting hungry. We’re getting antsy. So, we end up ditching the traditional course distribution. As more food was taken from the kitchen to the table, everyone was standing around the table and gathering what they wanted and placing it on their plates.
My uncle is the first to gather his collection of food and starts digging in. A couple of us started giving him a hard time because people were still preparing their plates, and no one said grace. Seconds later, everyone is finishes grabbing their food, and we sit crammed around the table.
“Well, who’s going to say grace?” says my mom as she glanced at me, implying that I ought to.
I spout out, “Since Uncle Mike ate first, he should get to say grace this year,” curious because I know the agnostic he is.
“If I do it, it won’t be that great,” responds my uncle.
After reassuring him that it does not need to be perfect (and various comments of pseudo-prayers by others), we all hold hands and bow our heads, and he begins to pray.
“Thank you for this food in front of us. Please bless us and this meal… if You’re up there.”
If You’re up there… The words reverberated in my heart as I became silent, slicing my ham and taking a bite. I have spent thing year wrestling with the continuous belief in God, and he laughs off any of the beliefs. I respect him greatly as a wise individual, but really?
At our Christmas Eve get-together the night before, a few of us began a conversation on Mormonism. The talk is not as important as what I overheard him say to another girl in the conversation, “Everyone thinks their religion is right, but really no one knows. It just depends on where you grow up.” Taken aback, I sat silently in my chair. I’m here incessantly wrestling with the existence of God, and you carelessly blow it off. How is that possible?
What is it that makes me so attached to Christianity? Can I really explain it in such a way that a non-believer would find in appealing? Or make the connection for the agnostic? Is that on me or the doing of the Holy Spirit?
Sit, Sean. Love. That’s your job.
We are told to love and be loved.
Here’s to spending time with my family and the ones I love, enjoying my community and participating in what really matters. Love. Merry Christmas!