How did you feel on Christmas as a JW child?
School was hard for me up to sixth grade. After that the kids didn't care, but it was so hard being a JW from age 6 to age 12. I was the only child in the school sent to the library and was an outcast. Now that I have a family it is nice but my father (not a JW) and mother (inactive JW) won't do the holidays. Xmas was a time of sadness for me. It wasn't about the presents to me.. I just wanted to have the celebration and family gathering we used to do before the witnesses came a knocking.
Some of my best memories in life are about Christmas when I was a child. I loved the smell of the tree in the house, the beautiful lights and unwrapping the presents. Then my mom spent $0.10 one Saturday morning for the Watchtower and the Awake. Within 3 months my world came crashing down with no birthdays, Christmas or other holidays. Going out as a family after church to have dinner at a nice restaurant and then going to a movie stopped. Then my mom studied with me and my brother every week out of the Paradise book, which was such a waste of time. I absolutely hated it. My childhood was taken away from me for $0.10. I listen to Christmas songs all year long now because it takes my back to a happy time in my life.
Christmas should be a time to share pleasurable things with the ones we love and enjoy socializing with ie family and friends.
Sure if one deeply examines the roots of Christmas you'll would find embellished stories and bible theology , slightly infused with some old pagan traditions, but still doesn't mean this holiday shouldn't be practiced for what is and can be.
One Christmas when I was in elementary school (4th or 5th grade) the class watched a Christmas movie. I think it was A Christmas Story but I'm not sure since I never saw it, just assuming since it would've come out around that time. Anyways, the teacher put a desk out in the hall for me to sit at and shut the door. Through the small glass window in the door I saw the lights go out, then the glow of the tv, then heard the raucous laughter of my classmates as they watched the movie. I thought about them in there having fun and eating their snacks (which I also couldn't have since they were probably in the shapes of Christmas trees, or angels or something else "evil"). I'm not sure how I occupied myself out in the hallway. Maybe I read a book or just sat quietly.
In the years since, I've tried to convince myself that missing Christmas as a child was no big deal. But this happened going on 30 years ago and it still sticks in my mind so it obviously had an effect on me. I would lie and tell my classmates that I got presents all year long, but the reality was that my family was poor. I got the basic necessities and a few toys here and there but there really was no comparison to the gifts they received during Christmas and birthdays. I was relieved once I entered the workforce and no longer had to face questions of "what did you get for Christmas" because adults don't really care about that stuff.
I've heard schools in the U.S. are much more PC about religious diversity diversity these days so holidays aren't so much celebrated, but observed in a way that is much more educational. I know that angers a lot of people ("they're taking god out of schools!" and other bs). Personally I'm glad to see it. Looking back, I never should've been singled out like that and I never want any child to have that experience.
Maybe Christmas is too overcommercialized but it does teach about giving to others and growing closer to friends and family. The problem in JWland is that we celebrated nothing. (I know each congregation is different but the ones I attended did not.) Even the weddings were kinda somber! There is nothing that JWs do that can compare to the loving spirit and togetherness that Christmas offers. And as an adult I struggle to make connections with people, to give without anxiety and to receive without suspicion.
Sorry to write a novel-- guess this struck a nerve BTW I'm new, nice to meet you all, and Merry Christmas every one.
How'd I feel on Christmas day as a child? Left out. Lonely. Even when I was into the JW stuff, I couldn't wait for the day to be over because it's like the whole world is having a party that you aren't invited to.
Here's how it unfolded: I'd wake up to a barren world (everything but the movie theater is closed) with the knowledge of my worldly friends and schoolmates were having the time of their lives waking up to opening gifts and playing with new toys all day. I had 4 siblings, so the day sucked for all of us collectively.
There's a reason awesome, fun, and climatic events are referred to as "It's just like Christmas!"
It's the same now. As an adult, with JW family in, there is no celebration. No dinner together. No party and no fun on Christmas eve or the actual day. I'm alone in my mind, trying to connect with others and things that keep my mind off the isolation.
I inquired about volunteering at a church in town to help serve xmas dinner this year. They responded, "We have enough volunteers." [email protected]#!
The plus side: Charlie Brown's Christmas was on last night. And I watch guilt-free.
Growing up as a kid my father wasn't baptized yet, so we used to go to either my godparents house or the house of my godbrothers or my mom used to cook and invite folks over, because the Borg said at that time if a wife had an UBM you weren't supposed to deny a holiday meal, my father could care less by the way. I did get presents from the friends of the family (not Dubs) and relatives so never missed out too much on that either. It started getting boring around Junior High School age, when the folks who used to cook the big meal every holiday got tired of doing it.
Lonely, yet at the same time Self-Righteous and Smug, because I was "right" and they were all "wrong".
It was the crappiest time ever, I would have loved to have believed in Santa and all the magic associated with it, and sing Carols, which are far more fun to sing then the high pitched dreary Kingdom songs we had to sing. We were given gifts from non-jw Grand-parents but always felt guilty. Going back to school was a nightmare. I made sure my child was free to celebrate all the lovely traditions in a guilt free way.
Childhood as a JW was sheer hell. Having to stay behind in the classroom as the class went to the gym to sing, and have a Xmas party.
In the back of my mind thinking, ''what did I do to deserve this as childhood?'' Felt like the biggest F*&% outcast alive.
I was home schooled so didn't really experience seeing other kids with their toys and all that. All my friends where JWs too so I didn't feel so odd. We were in our own little JW bubble. Like others I felt smarter than everyone else because I knew it was false and not Christian. Little did I know that most people know that it is not Jesus birthday. They just don't care, the holiday is not really about that. Of course I would feel awkward if someone would greet me with "Merry Christmas" because it just felt rude to not reply in kind. Instead I would just say "Thanks, have a good one" which would sometimes get me a strange look.