Christmas At Our House
My son looked at this manger scene, something that was in my house growing up and I snagged after Dad died because I love it dearly, and said, “Oh! Is that me as a baby? With Nikki and E?”
Sometimes it’s very obvious we are not a Christian family.
My family does not practice any religion in any form. My husband and I both grew up in Christian churches, but we abandoned those beliefs long ago. However, we do celebrate Christmas, and some people struggle with that. How can a family that doesn’t believe in God, participate in a holiday celebrating the birth of God’s son? Simple!
First of all – we talk a lot about Jesus in this house. I often tell the kids about the teachings of Jesus because I want them to understand that he taught great things and there is nothing wrong with trying to be like him. However, I explain the difference in how other religions see him. Some see him as a prophet. Some as a teacher and a good man. And then some – most of their friends – see him as the Savior and the Son of God.
SO! That’s the basic religious background that we give the kids.
When it comes to Christmas I explain that there are religious elements that we don’t celebrate. We don’t go to church. We don’t set up a nativity scene (Although we do have some manger-type decorations that are gifts or sentimental). We don’t do an Advent Calendar. We do try to remind them about those religious elements (obviously not often enough, thanks to the question about Wesley In The Manger) but I just describe them in the same way I do everything that is What Some People Do But Not Us. Some people celebrate the birth of Jesus at Christmas. But not our family.
However – there are elements of Christmas – like the Christmas Tree – that have roots in pagan celebrations. For awhile, even, the Puritans who colonized New England banned trees AND gifts because of their pagan origins. And Santa Claus? While he may have religious roots (Saint Nicholaus) some Catholics (I can’t remember what other religions have saints) don’t even really try to connect the Bishop/Saint with the guy at the North Pole. And if you go TOO far trying to explain Santa Claus to your kids, then it suddenly becomes “not real” so I just play dumb a lot of the time.
It’s tricky. Especially when they have friends at school constantly questioning their lack of knowledge – or belief – in their religion. Sometimes our talks go much deeper regarding religion… we discuss the afterlife and heaven and what I believe about it all. We discuss salvation and sinning. But at this age, a lot of it still just goes back to: Why Don’t We Go To Church? Which I always answer the same: Because church is for people who believe in what the church teaches. And Daddy and I don’t believe in those things. If you choose to believe them someday, I hope you find a church that supports you and the people you love.
Oh – and of course the newest holiday question – Is that me? Or Jesus?
Rocket City Mom is a website about raising children in and around Huntsville, Alabama. Started in late 2010 by a local mom and newcomer to Huntsville, Rocket City Mom has grown into a thriving community of local parents and now boasts a staff of four, thirteen regular contributors, and tens of thousands of Tennessee Valley readers making it the #1 Parenting Resource in North Alabama.
OK, now is it time for the part where I take you to the spiritual mat and then when you still don’t yield I slink away muttering resentfully that I’ll pray for you?
Thank you for being rational and respectful with what many find the trickiest of subjects, Kim. Please infect as many people as possible with these radical qualities!
Thank you so much, Kim! It’s definitely hard having a different belief system than the majority of people around you. I love this: “If you choose to believe them someday, I hope you find a church that supports you and the people you love.” That’s exactly how I feel!
thank you for this post!
while i am a christian, but we do not celebrate christmas with any sort of religious connotations. (like you mentioned, it all has pagan roots to begin with!) it was a nice breath of fresh air to read this post.
Kim, thank you for writing this. It pretty much sums up our household and our approach to Christmas in general. I’ve had people question in the past why I want to celebrate Christmas and, well, the simple answer is because my family has always done it; it’s part of the social fabric of the community we live in; and, well, it’s fun. As for the kids, we talk about AAAALLLL the holidays and festivals of light that happen this time of year. We connect them together to show how humans all celebrate pretty much the same idea, but in different forms and with different stories. Thanks again…great post!
I LOVED this article! Thank you Kim and Rocket City Mom for sharing! It was nice to read something that describes our home this time of year.
What a lovely post…and a much needed one. Thank you for being so respectful of your children’s possible future beliefs, no matter what they are. No mom could do better~
No one can deny the miracle and spirit of Christmas. If you seek Our Lord Jesus..you will find him! Many have been hurt and disillusioned by the humanness of their church leaders. This is a great injustice and will be made right. By Christ’s death on the cross we were set free from sin. Every heart was given the power to hear God’s voice again. Not everyone acts on this freedom to find Him again in this dark and sinful world. He is there, waiting for you. Don’t we owe our children the efforts of our lives and souls to seek God rather than offer them no hope when they sit before the creator only to hear the reply..I do not know you. We exhaust ourselves looking in to colleges, pick neighborhoods and friends to be in their lives. We choose healthy foods and read a hundred books and articles to better our selves as parents. Why in the case of the soul do we settle for what mistakes and holes our parents left? Jesus is Christmas..even if our minds refuse him our Hearts can not deny him and yearn to be filled.
Don’t be left in the dark anymore..Go to the Crib this Christmas.