I never really celebrated Christmas in the secular way that it is celebrated by most everyone else. If I celebrated it at all while I was single woman living on my own, it was strictly in a religious way. I do admit that while I was an active Catholic that I did enjoy going to midnight mass. I loved midnight mass. I also have a lot of fond memories of preparing for holiday concerts. I was a member of a few high profile choirs. One choir in San Antonio was a Mariachi choir. One in Austin was directed by a choral director at UT, and we did the most advanced classical pieces. It was absolutely beautiful.
If my family celebrated Christmas at all, it was with a big dinner. There were small token presents for children, and that was it. Sometimes, not even that. No one in my family were present givers, on both sides. Presents were only for the small kids. My Mom’s family was baptist and my Dad’s family was Catholic. This was their normal. My aunt has a theory that it’s because her parents lived through the depression era. A nice meal is something that they cherished, more than anything else. The presents were for children.
“Santa Clause” only came one time when I was nine year’s old. That’s part of the reason I was never that upset to find out he wasn’t real. I only believed in a traditional way, as a cartoon character. He was about as real as Bug’s Bunny and Bozo the Clown to me. I never got the chance to be on the Bozo show, but I loved to vicariously enjoy the excitement when the kid’s won. But Christmas movies kind of mess with your head. They are like, “If he’s not coming that’s because you don’t believe hard enough.” I don’t understand why this tradition will only exist because of a child’s belief of it. It obviously means a lot to other people. I did see Santa at the mall and I sat on his lap. That’s about it.
While I was young, my dad belonged to the Church of Christ. My mother talked to Jehovah’s Witnesses. Later on, my brother became a Jehovah’s Witness. My brother is a very devoted Jehovah’s Witness. If you know anything about these two religions there is a deep hatred of Christmas from both.
Jewish people don’t hate Christmas like Jehovah’s Witnesses, and they are generally very tolerant with other people’s secular holiday functions. However, Jehovah’s Witnesses HATE Christmas about as much as they hate Halloween. They strongly believe it’s a pagan festival. No matter how many times I try to tell my brother that Israel has a climate similar to Texas he still insists that it is impossible for Jesus to be born in December. He says Jesus was born during the harvest season, but December is a harvest season for warmer climates. Jesus was not born in Minnesota! He won’t even consider basic geology. Every single year while growing up I got the Christmas hate lecture. Before my Brother started giving this lecture, my Dad gave the lecture. They strongly believe it’s a pagan holiday.
Christmas was always an outsider holiday for me. No one really prevented me from celebrating it at school or from singing carols in the Choir. It’s just never a holiday I really celebrated in my home other than having a big family dinner that I was usually in charge of preparing for everyone. My Dad eventually relented and started celebrating it so we can have a big dinner. We always had guests coming from out of town. My brother would refuse to participate in the dinner, but he would eat the leftovers.
My husband’s family celebrates the secularized version of Christmas, and they are very gung ho about it. This wouldn’t bother me so much other than the fact that all the responsibility of secular Christmas magic falls onto the women. Secular Christmas is traditionally the mother’s job. I feel like I am forced to do a job that was never something I did while growing up. They are like the “Home Alone” family. They buy presents for everyone. It’s a really huge deal for them. They really go all out.
Now like I said, if Kevin were the one to go out shopping and organize everything it wouldn’t bother me to simply go along and take part in it. He doesn’t, and that is not his expectation from his family. It’s my expectation.
As gung ho as my brother was about being a Jehovah’s Witness, he never forced me to become one. We had the same discussion every year, and he always listened to my valid points. I am willing to participate in my husband’s Christmas, but this is really not my Christmas. It actually feels quite strange to me. It feel strange to go out and spend money we don’t have to buy a bunch of presents nobody really wants. Why? I really like giving presents, but I like to give presents when I think people need them. My gut instincts tell me this person needs this certain item, and I get it for them. It has meaning. There is no real timeline for it. I really go out of my way to give gifts to people that I think need them.
That’s not to say that my yearly discussions with my brother have not rubbed off on me at all. Even though I actively defended my right to celebrate Christmas, I am not for the secularized pagan celebration of it. I am not a “Santa Clause Christian” and I never have been. I really don’t believe in it, and I don’t really get that excited about Halloween for the same reasons. I think it’s fun for kids but at the end of the day it’s a pagan holiday. I don’t really like the secular part of Christmas. It’s not my holiday. It never has been.
It’s a much different view when the traditions are purely secular. When it comes to religious celebrations, people are taught from a young age to respect other cultures and traditions. However, that’s not true with secularized traditions. There just isn’t a lot of respect there, because no one is violating anyone’s religion. I am not actually a Jehovah’s Witness, however I have been highly influenced since one of them is my brother. In our household, it strangely worked out because we respected each other’s beliefs.
We have a tree here, but how I celebrated Christmas on my own was going to church and maybe having a nice dinner. I respect Kevin’s traditions, but Kevin needs to step it up a little bit. Those are his family traditions, not mine. I was raised in a family that maybe tolerated the religious part of it from me, but they absolutely abhorred the commercial aspect of it. It’s not just that I felt left out of it. I don’t believe in it.
It just really stresses me out. It’s hard shopping for people I don’t really know. It will completely wipe us out. It’s going to place us in severe poverty. This has become more about saving face than it is about celebrating the birth of Christ. I don’t understand how my holiday traditions are somehow inferior. I was happy with it. It didn’t feel shitty until I got to high school and all the present giving was rubbed in my face. After I graduated, I never had a problem. They expect me to do something I have never done, and they will be upset when I fail to live up to their expectations. I wish I can run away and hide in a cave.
It also doesn’t help that I have to get an MRI and that I might have something like cancer. Why are they doing this to me? I need to go see the doctor, not go out shopping for presents. This is ridiculous. I’d much rather got to church, do some praying, and connect with Jesus and Mother Mary. No matter how bad things get, you can always pray. This is not my holiday, at least not like this. I know how much it means to them, but I would much rather have their active presence throughout the year. Joren doesn’t need more toys. He’s already tripping over the ones that he has. He has so many toys.
He needs grandparents. If he can’t have that, then he should at least have pre-school. He needs to be in an active environment for at least part of the day, not hanging out with his sick mom watching Bubble Guppies. That’s what grandparents are supposed to do. They are supposed to take the grand-kids out and spend some quality time with them once a week. They are supposed to take them to the zoo or the park. Kids need interaction.