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Paradigm Lost

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The Sin of Christmas

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I remember being about two years old (I have a long memory) and watching my dad plug in Christmas lights. That was probably the last year our family celebrated Christmas. 

Both my parents grew up celebrating holidays like most of middle-class America, but as they began their slide into fundie-dom they started reading tracts and booklets about the evils of holidays. They believed that Christmas, Easter, and Halloween were evil throwbacks to paganism that had been perpetuated by the Catholics (who, of course, weren't "real Christians"). I'm linking here to something similar to the many booklets we had around the house: http://blowthetrumpet.org/AChristmasDefenseHowGodsPeopleJustifySin.htm

This refusal to celebrate holidays set my family apart, even from the fundamentalist Christians we associated with, and definitely caused a lot of confusion when people casually asked us kids what we were doing for Christmas, and we told them we didn't "do Christmas." We got asked a lot if we were Jehovah's Witnesses, since that's who usually comes to mind as not celebrating holidays. Sometimes people asked if my parents were Christian, because the idea of a Christian not celebrating Christmas was so astonishing. 

Birthdays were only grudgingly allowed: we normally had just a family gathering, similar to the Maxwells' descriptions of their birthday celebration. It was often pointed out that the only birthdays mentioned in the Bible were the birthdays of evil men (Pharaoh and Herod). Also it was seen as being likely to draw to much attention to one person and make them self-centered. 

This story has a bit of a happy ending, at least for me. After I left home, I embraced holidays with a vengeance. Christmas was amazing, my children got Easter baskets from my in-laws, Halloween was a pure delight of dressing my kids and taking them trick-or-treating. Now that I've left Christianity, I still look forward to the holidays. Christmas/Yule/Winter Solstice--whatever it's called, it's a time of joy and giving and yummy food. Halloween--it's a joy to watch my children enjoy what I didn't, with no fear of "Satan" to hinder their steps. The cycle of the seasons is cause for celebration, even if "Easter" isn't really a thing for me. And I want my children to feel special on their birthdays: to know that they're important and valued.

This rejection of holidays stemmed from anti-Catholic and anti-Pagan attitudes. It was promoted as being "God's way," but all the tracts reviled Catholics and Pagans, making it obvious that the real problem was with other people's belief systems. Of course, we were the ones with the "right" understanding of the Bible. As with everything else. 

Nowadays, my parents still don't celebrate religious holidays, except for having or attending a Thanksgiving meal (apparently there's some justification in the Bible for "a day of thanks," don't ask me). They are free to do whatever they want on the holidays; meanwhile, at my house, there will likely be a delicious dinner cooking and a living room full of loved ones. 

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