'T is the season and my oldest is now 5 (and in school), it's also how long I've been 'out'. I just wanted to share this story about my daughter. You can find some of my history on these forums as well.
In the mean time, I've started a new family, I have shared custody (half the weekdays and every other weekend) with my oldest and my youngest is 2 and we are celebrating Christmas. My current partner has always done big Christmas with her family.
This year, we started off by going to cut our own Christmas tree (also a first for me). So I had to swim in the snow and mud to cut off our 12 ft tree (by hand). The children had a blast, we also spent some time at the farm, they had Santa and a sleigh, my oldest won a T-shirt contest from a local radio station. She really got excited about the holidays started making plans about gifts and everything.
By the next week day visit we had set up the tree and the lights and it was time to decorate the tree. My daughter was very hesitant and anxious. After talking to her she finally comes out and whispers "Mommy yells at me for doing Christmas". She still wanted to do the holidays though so she had a blast hanging all the balls and decorations. We assured her that it's her choice.
The next week day visit, at dinner she complains about the meetings, "they're so boring, I can't play and I have to sit still". Asking her if she doesn't have any friends there, she reveals that there are almost no children going to the meetings. When I left a few years ago, there were about a dozen parents with children, she says now there's only two. Asking if she doesn't have them over for play or sleepover, she says "my friend is a boy and Mommy says I can't have friends at home that are boys to play" (did I tell you she's 5). Asking whether she has any school friends, she says "Mommy says I can't play with friends at school because they don't believe in Jehovah".
We asked her if she perhaps wanted to visit another church and get to know more people her age, after explaining a church is like a kingdom hall, she says she wants to try it. So we started looking for non-denominational churches in our area. We explained her not everybody believes the same things, some people believe in Jehovah but most people don't believe the same things.
The next week day she came home "I want to go to my friend's birthday party at SkyZone (a local trampoline park) but Mommy says no birthdays". So I'm now trying to find out who has the birthday and trying to get in contact with her teacher, her mother, although ordered by the court to share information with me, lied to the school about our custody, I've been trying to fix that and finally got an audience with her teacher next week.
This weekend we went to a church service. It was "interesting" to say the least, to me it seemed quite a schizophrenic service because they try to interweave some of the Christian teachings around Christmas with a message of openness and acceptance of all faiths even non-belief. The children have their own 'Sunday school'. My daughter, very shy at first, opened up pretty soon to the other kids. She had a blast, they were singing, doing crafts and Christmas-themed stories.
My two-year old doesn't understand quite what's going on and caused a bit of commotion since she sat with us in the main service. With my KH senses tingling, I took her in and out of the main auditorium so as not to disturb. In the middle of service, the (female) reverend came up and said publicly to us "it's quite normal and okay for a child to make noises, we actually like it as it brings a positive energy to the service, don't worry about it, we enjoy the children being here with us". At the end of service, they bring out the older children to the stage. My oldest was so proud that she was the center of attention for an entire congregation. My youngest sees her and yells her name, runs up all the way from the back to give her sister a hug. Everybody chuckled.
After service, we are driving, we ask "did you learn anything today". She says "I learned about Jehovah and Jesus" <silence>. "Oh really, I didn't think they would call it Jehovah". She goes "No, that's with mommy, I learned about Christmas trolls" and she goes on and recites an entire story about trolls.
A few minutes later, we're talking about lunch options she suddenly blurts out "Daddy, I like the Jehovah that celebrates Christmas, can we go back next time". "Sure honey, we can go back, we also had a few other ones you can check out", she replies "Next time, let's go back there, then we can go somewhere else." <silence> "Maybe Mommy wants to go with me to this church instead of the kingdom hall".
Thinking back, it's just amazing how much indoctrination can be wound back simply by showing someone 'the same thing but different'. I myself am not a believer, I didn't care for religious anything since I left. However I think showing my daughter that there are more people that also do Kingdom Hall style setups yet practice different things leaves more of an impression.