81 percent: “Family traditions are the most important part of Christmas to me.”

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Susan R's picture


Traditions are nice, but the pressure that families put on each other sometimes just sucks the life out of the holiday. Friends who are going through some tough financial times are going into debt because relatives expect gifts, and if they don't buy gifts, they are shamed. There is fighting and tension and some serious stress going on this year for some of them- and they and their families are Christians. What is up with that?

As a matter of fact, we have had some serious automobile and plumbing issues in our house this year, and we aren't going to be doing any gift giving until we get these things taken care of. You wouldn't believe the fuss this has caused. I asked the kids how they felt about it, and Noah said as far as he was concerned, we have Christmas all year, because when the kids want or need something, if we think it's a good thing and we can afford it, they pretty much get what they want. But the relatives are saying stuff like "You are robbing your kids of their childhood" and acting like our kids are orphans or something. And since we haven't put up a Christmas tree in years, our kids have never had a 'real' Christmas. Give me an ever lovin' break. I can't wait until this holiday is OVER, and that's a total bummer to me. Why do people do that to each other?

If a Christian actually believes that Christmas can't be celebrated without a tree, then IMO they have taken a giant step toward making it an idol.

Aaron Blumer's picture


I agree there's alot of overkill... and callousness and pressure etc. that happens.
I have to pose a question, though: is something a celebration if you do it 7x24x365? How about if you do it once a week? Once a month? The reason I post the questions is that for many of us, Christmas is about elevating a great moment in the history of the world and in the execution of God's amazing plan for the ages. The moment is a great moment regardless of anything we do, but celebrating that moment is something its greatness demands. You just have to pause to feel the awe and express some "special" gratitude.

Of course, non-fans of Christmas have long pointed out that we can celebrate the incarnation any time... or all the time. But is a celebration a celebration if it happens every day? Every month? etc.? And is there something missing if believers don't celebrate it together in a somewhat synchronized way? I think it's a better celebration for being annual. It stands out. And I know it's a better celebration for being shared not just by family but also by the body of Christ.

But I do sympathize with those for whom Christmas becomes painful. It is hard to mix the idea of an incarnation celebration with a social custom of giving gifts. There's not really any inherent relationship between the two anymore and efforts to keep them bound together are often pretty strained. All that to say, I believe in the idea of Christmas, I'm just not a big fan of "the movement." Smile

I'd be thrilled to see all who really care about having a special day to mark the birth of the Savior find another day to do it and leave all the baggage behind. But that's not going to happen. So, in the mean time, I try to focus on what I love about both the Christian celebration and the social custom. The latter has more than a few problems, but there's plenty there that I appreciate as well.

I guess where sinners are involved things are always going to be a bit messy.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

Susan R's picture


That's what I'm thinking, Aaron. If people constantly equate gift-giving with celebrating Christmas, it drains all the meaning out of it.

For instance, the comment my son Noah made- he said this in the context of what other people express about their idea of Christmas- but our kids don't think any of the 'usual' traditions are a celebration of the incarnation. They think alot of traditions (especially Santa Claus and other Christmas myths) are insipid. They enjoy what we do as a family to remember the miracle of the virgin birth and subsequent sacrifice on the cross. They couldn't care less if they got presents at Christmas, because we don't 'hold' gifts in reserve for them until Christmas. When people ask them what they want for Christmas, their usual response is that they have everything they want already.

I tell people I want Post-It Notes.

Our family tradition, if you will, is to decorate for seasons, not holidays. So we have wintery stuff all over- lights, snowmen, etc... We put up a nativity scene for Christmas, but no tree. Our living room is a shrine to books, so even if we wanted a tree, we'd have to staple it to the ceiling to fit it in. Biggrin

It appears to me at times that in the Fundy world there is some paranoia about how others celebrate Christmas. It's wearisome how people will 'read into' what you do or don't do during the holidays. I think the diversity should make it more interesting and enjoyable, but it seems if you don't have the same traditions as others, some folks get seriously offended.