Saturday, December 8, 2012

No Christmas for you!


Remember how I said my family growing up was too conservative theologically for even the conservative churches we went to and how our denomination was the "1700s"?  Don't worry if you don't, it was way back in my first post, but this time of year always reminds of exactly how this was true.

We never celebrated Christmas.

Wait..... what?!  Yep, you heard right - as a family, we never celebrated Christmas.  We never got presents from our parents.  We never had a Christmas tree.  We never had decorations.  We never made special food.  We never sang Christmas carols.  We never went to a Christmas Eve service.  My dad's family were all normal and we at least went to the family get-together every year and got presents from our aunts and uncles.  But to celebrate it ourselves and have our own family traditions?  Not a prayer of a chance.

And here's why.

My parents, like I said, essentially lived in the mindset and doctrines of the Protestant Reformation through the era of the Puritans.  One of the mainstays of the doctrines of this set was that of what is called the Regulative Principle.  The regulative principle states that what is not explicitly commanded in the Bible to do/observe is by default forbidden.  Not 'left up to personal judgement'.... forbidden.  And since nowhere in the New Testament are we instructed to observe Jesus' birth, Christmas is wrong.

Yep, you heard right.  We were brought up being taught that Christmas is wrong.

When I got married, I finally had the chance to do Christmas-y things with someone else for the first time.  It was the first time I'd ever gotten a stocking, the first time I'd properly strung and decorated a Christmas tree with Christmas music playing.  I suppose I could have before - I was working and paying rent to my parents and wouldn't have gotten in trouble, but to me it wasn't worth the constant looks and sideways comments I knew I'd get.  Besides, that first Christmas I was truly self-sufficient, I was completely distracted by having gone on my first date ever with who turned out to be my husband (yes, seven years later and I still can't believe it!), and had thoroughly enjoyed being utterly rebellious and simply announcing that I was going out with a guy from work :D

But anyway, I'll never get back the opportunity to experience Christmas as a kid.  Beyond the materialistic reasons all kids like Christmas, I know I would have loved going to a Christmas Eve candlelight service filled with music and singing, and just getting to enjoy the whole thing instead of knowing that we were beyond different even in the conservative church we went to and looking wistfully at my violin teacher's huge and heavily decorated tree she had every year and all the lights in the rest of the neighborhood and thinking deep down that whole world couldn't possibly be wrong about Christmas.

And so I specifically want to make Christmas special for my kids.  Once again give my baby girl and any future siblings she might have something I never got.  Give them joy and happiness, not teach them to bemoan the secularization and backsliding of the church.  What sort of parents lay that on their children about Christmas?!  No.  We will have stockings, and ripped wrapping paper all over the living room, and delicious food, and buy toys for the Marines' Toys for Tots, adopt a family for our local Angel Tree, go to our candlelight service at church and sing Christmas carols.  And I will enjoy every minute of it more than they, or even my husband (although he has a pretty good idea), will ever know.

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