it seems to me that you don't get much happiness out of such meetings, but I admit it's asking for trouble if you don't go. How comfortable do you feel as a closet atheist and do you have plans to leave the closet? Would your family break contact or just make your life a misery? Tell us more.
Gee that is a miserable pickle. My advice would be worthless to you because I don't like or respect many of my religious family members and stay as far away from them as possible. I make it very clear I do not believe in god or jesus or the bible or any of the fairy tales that I used to teach when I was a believer in superstitions. The funny thing is, many family members tell me, privately, that they do not believe in supernatural powers either.
If your grandmother is as kind as you say, perhaps she would be able to love you and not judge you even if she knew you do not share her beliefs. She may know, already. Her husband may not be so kind.
With the courage of a lion, the wisdom of an owl, the spirit of a Russell Terrier, he is Atheist Pig!
Not trying to tell you what to do, but my personality is such that after a few years as an atheist, I grew very annoyed at the constant religious talk in my family, especially them trying to get me to come back to church and participate in prayer.
I finally informed my Mormon family of much of the solid scientific evidence that showed religion to be false. I told them that I could no longer stand to hear religious superstition, so if they could not keep it to themselves, they did not feel like family. The ones that still can't keep it to themselves, I don't visit anymore.
They are good people and I enjoyed their company when I was a brainwashed believer, but the annoyance is just too much for me to put-up with now, so I can't see them as family. There is no more enjoyment in their company.
I love your response Spud!
I'm with Spud! I got out of moronism almost 54 years ago, so wouldn't know my relatives if I passed them on the street.
Mother is still around at 89, but I've never been in the closet. She didn't like it at the time, but that was her problem. We were never close, & never will be.
You have to decide whether staying closeted is worth the internal stress. How much would coming out hurt people you truly care about? Who, if any, would be able to step back and continue to accept you without your accepting their magic?
If it would hurt too many too much, I guess it's the status quo. For now, at least. Is there any way to decrease the amount of exposure without causing pain? Arriving late or leaving early?
Often it's just put up with it. At some point there will be a shift: somebody dies, somebody moves away, another family member comes out, something.
Then you reassess your situation and make any change you feel is called for.
My best wishes for now.
Mel, you had a nice variety of responses and in the end, you will do what is right for you. I/we support you in that. I hope you have loving, generous responses when you choose to reveal your thoughts and if you do, that will be wonderful. If you don't you will be strong enough to take whatever they say or do to you and you will remain the honest, thoughtful, caring one thru the ordeal. I hope your grandmother has a healthy and happy rest of her life and that you enjoy her company often.
Hang in there!
One of the ideas in these links might be useful at family meals if/when you decide it's the right time to be more outspoken:
(including this godless but not antitheistic benediction:
"For the meal we are about to eat,
for those that made it possible,
and for those with whom we are about to share it,
we are thankful.")