When we were growing up as kids, we didn’t truly understand Christmas.
See, myself and my siblings were raised without Christmas. Like, never.
Now, we knew that there was such a thing as Christmas. We got off 2 weeks or so for Christmas break from school. I remember snagging Christmas trees and bringing them home to burn in the fireplace. We would see all the other kids getting stuff, and talking about what they got for Christmas (of course, I knew we were broke – 6 kids, plus my dad giving way too much money to church instead of taking care of his kids). But Christmas was something that other people did.
I heard two different reasons for not celebrating Christmas. The first one went something like this, “How would you like it if it were your birthday, and everyone was exchanging gifts with each other, but not you?”
Even as a kid, I knew this reasoning was idiotic. And as a thinking adult, I am very certain it is idiotic.
The other reason given for not celebrating Christmas, is that it is a pagan holiday (as most of them are). My dad wanted nothing to do with anything that was pagan.
My first experience with Christmas was as an adult, at a friends family gathering. I went, but just as a visitor invited by my friend. I was watching everyone exchange gifts, without any negative feelings. I was enjoying watching the interplay, the enjoyment of everyone, coming together as family. Then, someone handed me a package. Written right on the package was my name. It was from my friends Grandmother, to me.
I was pretty stunned. And to the best of my recollection, this was the first Christmas gift I had ever received in my life. At 18, maybe 19 years old.
The gift was a sweater, and a nice one. This very simple act, of being given this gift, for me was quite emotional.
Although I did not fully grasp all of the concepts of Christmas, and the cultural relevancy, I got into it well enough. I hated the blatant commercialization, but the other aspects of family, togetherness, giving – I liked those. When I got married, my (ex)wife encouraged celebration of Christmas, and my two boys were raised up experiencing Christmas. Of course, my two boys got gifts from other members of family, and relatives.
Interestingly enough, my boys wound up getting Christmas gifts from their grandfather. Yup, the same man that did not celebrate Christmas all through my childhood was now celebrating Christmas.
Guess he didn’t mind giving gifts to others on Jesus’s birthday after all.
Guess he didn’t mind that Christmas was in origin a pagan holiday.
(Side note – many, many things he literally preached against, he now does.)
I watched this change unfold, with a varied mixture of interest, and resentment. For the longest, I said nothing. But one day, in an incident that will be covered in a different post, I brought it up. I asked my dad why we were raised up without Christmas?
My dad loves to play the blame game, as in blame someone else. And this time, like usual, he did not disappoint. He tried to pawn it off on my mom. That she didn’t want to. And that it was out of respect for her. I immediately knew this was bullshit, as my dad did NOT operate like that.
I told him, “You were always the man of the house. Everything was done exactly your way. If you wanted to celebrate Christmas, we would have.”
So what changed in my dad’s life? Why would he now engage in this pagan holiday?
Well, my Dad got married, and then started celebrating Christmas.
From all appearances, my dad is pretty much emasculated by his current wife. It IS amusing to see her yank his chain, and watch him respond, obediently. And also amusing to see him so worried about what she might think and how she will react, it moderates his daily actions and decisions.
My speculation is that a number of things changed in his life, and his wife decreeing that he would now be celebrating Christmas is one of them.Would you share this?