holiday cheer/hypocrisy/dilemma

by ShepGator 9 Replies latest jw friends

  • ShepGator

    OK, how is everyone handling the upcoming holidays? I was raised a JW so never celebrated at all. Over the years as a married but no kids couple, I have just done whatever my hubby wanted which usually consists of just having dinner at his parents' house. But then we got tired of that since they are all a bunch of negative nellies and ignorant in their own way. We've gone out of town - that is great actually, but this year, can't swing it. I finally bought a 4 ft. prelit tree and put presents for all our animals under it. Im always accused of being a grinch but people just don't realize if you have no child memories of xmas, and you have no religious beliefs, what is left? As much as I feel like I missed out on fond childhood memories, I also hate the greedy crap that goes on with Christmas. Americans are already do in debt and then they go out and buy a bunch of stuff just to say that they celebrated - it really turns me off big, big time! But then again, I hate feeling down and out at the holidays! What's a lady to do?!!! Such a double-edged sword.

  • luna2

    Welcome to the board, Shep...I missed your earlier posts.

    This is interesting, isn't it?

    I was not raised a dub and my parents went all out for Christmas, although I think they had a budget and stuck to it. We were never overloaded with gifts as kids, but there was enough to make it fun. The family would come over (both sides), we'd eat, we'd talk, we'd open presents (usually gag gifts for the adults) and we'd sing. It was great.

    Then I got married. My husband was (prolly still is) an extremely selfish man who had the added burden of some not so great Christmas memories. His dad and mom split when he was 11; dad got custody of the kids cuz mom was a piece of work; dad remarried a borderline alcoholic, had two more children with the new wife; and the older kids from the first marriage felt very much pushed to the fringes of the family. He and his sister and brother were always in trouble, always grounded, always being punished. They seemed to get crap like lint brushes and socks for Christmas while the two younger half-sisters got Barbie Dream Houses and a boat load of other toys. Then the step mom's family would all come over...quite a large crowd as step mom had lots of relatives. They would get progressively drunker and rowdier as the day progressed and would usually end the holiday in a big fight with lots of yelling, usually some pushing, and lots of tears. He hated Christmas.

    When holiday time came around as a newly married couple, he was pretty much disinterested. I had to buy the tree, decorate the house, and buy the gifts. I didn't mind doing this, but he was such a downer and we had so little money, that it wasn't very much fun. My gift from him would usually be something like dish towels or a frying pan which, unless you really, really want dish towels or frying pans, can be a little disappointing. I should probably have been glad that he bothered at all. To add to the enjoyment, our parents (who didn't much like each other) started pressuring us about who's house we were going to go to Christmas Day (or Thanksgiving Day or Easter Sunday or 4th of July). We ended up going to both. We got sulks from both too. We were always leaving too early for one set of parents and arriving too late for the other set. Nobody would compromise. It was beyond stressful, it was expensive and it wasn't very merry. I was starting to hate Christmas myself.

    After we divorced and I started studying with JW's and learned the no-celebrating-pagan-holidays rule, I was sad to deprive my kids of the fun and the presents, but I wasn't sad to turn down the invitations from the ex's parents to come to Christmas dinner. Phew, what a relief! My ex was Army and many times just took the boys down to whichever base he was assigned to over the Christmas holidays. I started refusing invitations to my own family's Christmas celebrations too. I got to enjoy the freedom of it. I could go to the movies, goof around with JW friends who also weren't interested in visiting family so they could sit in the corner stoically not wishing everybody a Merry Christmas, and generally do as I pleased.

    Now I'm taking another look at it. My plan is to only do what I feel like doing...still kind of working it out. I'm may buy a few gifts, for my parents and my son, but I'm not going to bankrupt myself buying junk that nobody wants. I'll mail cards to the rest of the family (they'll probably be surpised to get them). Not sure if my mother is planning to ask my son and I over for Christmas dinner this year...I won't do it as my parents are awful guests and can barely stand to take their coats off when they've come over in the past. I refuse to cook all day and have them sit there like they are waiting to leave at any moment. I guess we'll see. I'm very reluctant to give up my quiet day off. LOL

    Hmmm...this turned out to be a very long story. Sorry 'bout that.

  • Scully

    It doesn't have to be about buying things or getting yourself stressed out.

    Our first few Christmases were about putting up the tree, baking cookies and doing crafts with the children, learning Christmas carols and making new hats and mittens for them and playing a couple of new games that we picked up inexpensively.

    When money was sparse, we gave gift baskets of cookies and hot-chocolate mix, or made festive flower arrangements. It's a tradition we've kept up. A couple of years ago, I tried my hand at scrapbooking and making some lovely Christmas cards by hand. Last year I made hot chocolate mix and homemade peppermint marshmallows. They were a huge hit and it was a lot of fun to do. This year we're in a position to donate toys to the local toy drive - the children picked out some nice things and were thrilled to share their Christmas spirit with others who may be struggling to get by.

    Our best Christmases were about just being together, listening to beautiful music and watching classic Christmas movies, playing games and having a non-traditional Christmas dinner. We don't do the turkey dinner - we love a buffet style meal with cold cuts, cheeses, chips and dips, veggies and fruit, and different kinds of snack foods. I don't stress over the cooking that way and can concentrate on the fun stuff like baking or building a snowman or going out for a walk during a light snowfall.

    On Sunday, we've got the afternoon set aside to decorate our tree. We break out the Christmas tunes, make some mulled apple cider and have a ball.

  • Darth Yhwh
    Darth Yhwh

    My wife loves Christmas and this time of year. Im a bit of a Scrooge though. Being raised as a JW and having no real positive childhood memories combined with the fact that you cant go out in public with out traffic, parking difficulties, or everyone's holiday spirit makes it difficult for me. Not to mention the fact that I dont like the cold and hate winter by mid December. I tend to be a little grumpy this time of year. LOL

  • Scully

    Doing some of my Christmas shopping online has been a real time saver. I don't like crowded malls. I don't like looking for places to park. I don't like trucking my purchases from one store to the next or out to the car between shops. There were a couple of large items that would have been awkward for me to carry, so I ordered them online and they arrived at my door!

    As far as Christmas spending, I have an amount deducted from each pay that is my designated Christmas shopping fund. I don't miss the money they squirrel away on my behalf and when Christmas rolls around I have enough to buy what I want without using credit cards. It works for me.

  • Tatiana

    I have a big family, so I buy all year long. I have a special box in the basement, and anytime I am out shopping and I see a clearance item that I know someone in my family will love, I buy it right then and pack it away in the "box."

    I only buy clearance items. Or I buy at end of season. I never pay full price for anything. Last year AFTER Christmas, I bought my grandson a battery powered car (original price $179.00) for $30.00. I wanted to store it for Christmas, but his birthday is in March and I couldn't wait!

    The look on his face when he was riding it was priceless!!!

    It's kind of blurred....

    This year, my daughter had no money for Halloween costumes, and just painted the kid's faces. So after Halloween, when they put all the costumes on clearance for 90% off, I bought each one of them great costumes for next year, (in a bigger size) for about $1.00 apiece.

    After Christmas last year, I went to a hobby store, and bought tons of gingerbread decorations for my daughter @ 90% off. Xmas lights, candy cane yard decorations....and we decorated her house this past weekend. The kids loved all the lights and the giant snowman.

    We make gifts also. One Christmas I stayed up all night making my daughter a jeans outfit. Complete with rivets, studs, and snaps. The kids make potholders, jewelry, etc.

    And I can bake a great cake. I don't have a lot of money, but I try to make sure everyone feels special. A little imagination and planning, and you can bring a smile to a child's face. That is the best feeling of all.

    And there is no more fun than going out in the snow with kids...making snow angels and building a snowman. You will never have as much fun!!

  • Jamelle

    I was also raised a JW - never celebrating Christmas as I grew up. When I left the JW's at age 19 I immediately started celebrating Christmas although it was my second year before I had a tree.

    You may not childhood memories of Christmas to wax nostalgic about - and you may not feel comfortable with the religous overtones to the holiday (I wasn't for years) - but I do think there is a way to feel happier during this time of the year...

    Pick a cause, any cause, and donate some time to it. It could be anything from helping out at a local animal shelter (an ofter overlooked area of need this time of the year) or volunteering at a local nursing home to spend time with patients who don't get alot of visitors, reading to them, etc.

    If you are shy of physical involvement with people - and want more subtle options - what about calling a local nursing home and asking for the names (first if necessary for privacy) of some patients that never get any mail - then send each a beautiful Christmas card.

    I guess the point that I am trying to make is that to me, all the joy of Christmas is in the giving of things/time to others. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement. Who knows - maybe the things tried at Christmas-time will lead to year round involvement. Volunteer work really helped ground me when I first left the JWs - especially around Christmas.

    Another thing would be to decorate/celebrate/gift in old-fashioned ways. String popcorn, make those paper chains you never could while in school as a JW kid, give home goodies as simple gifts, and so on...

    Other posters had great suggestions too regarding watching Christmas movies (the older ones are the best! ) and sipping hot cocoa!

    Good luck with whatever you decide to do!

  • evita

    It took me a long time to feel good about the holidays. From the ages of 18-22 I worked in a large department store and the holidays were hell.
    Because I didn't celebrate, my boss always gave me the worst shifts. I worked every Christmas Eve for years and came in at 6:30 the day after.
    When I left the JW's I didn't know what to do with myself during the holidays. I had no one to celebrate with since I lived alone. Sometimes I would get invited to spend it with friends and their families. That was the worst and just added to my misery. A People magazine and a pint of Ben and Jerry's in front of the TV was better than that. One year I went to a cheap restaurant and had a fake turkey dinner alone - depressing.
    After meeting my husband things began to pick up mostly because I was happier. I started to enjoy getting gifts for people. Some of the guilt left over from the witnesses had gone. I helped serve food to the homeless. I went caroling. I tried to see what felt comfortable and fun. This process took several years.
    The year I was married, I had my first Christmas tree since early childhood. We had a "first Christmas" party and asked our friends to bring us a special ornament to celebrate. We provided major amounts of food. The party was a big success and I have never looked back. My kids totally enjoy the holidays with no guilt whatsoever. We also celebrate Hanukkah and anything else we feel like. Still, some holidays are harder than others. My mom died Dec. 6 of last year. Now this time for me includes grieving my mom who didn't celebrate.
    Relax and be open to the process. Try new things. Watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special.

  • These3Words

    The first time I put decorations on a christmas I tree I ran to the bathroom and barffed!! That is how screwed up the ORG left me.My girlfriend who is my Wife now had to show me how to properly apply Christmas tree decorations while I loudly sobed like a 4 year old!!

    This is officialy my 5th Christmas and I still get very emotional, but the emotion I feel is Joy. When I see the smiles on my kids faces when the first see the tree and the presents under it, I savor every second of it.Can I relive the past? You bet your ass I can, My family makes a point to make it extra special for me, when I come down the stairs on Christmas morning they all say"merry Christmas Daddy.Damn I'm sobing now!! Sorry. Anyway my point is this, its not about the money or getting the perfect gift, its all about family and how you make each other feel!! I don't think God has any objections to that?

    Merry Christmas Everyone!!!!!!

  • evita

    3 Words
    I'm sobbing with you...
    Have a very merry Christmas

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