Welcome! Log In Create A New Profile House Rules



Posted by C Shell 
Recent Messages
December 06, 2009 09:12PM
I’m not putting up my Christmas tree this year. It’s the first time in my life. Having been raised in a family that goes all out for Christmas (decorating inside and out, playing Christmas songs continually, baking, buying, etc.), I feel disloyal to my heritage. Kind of like when I left the institutional church.

And like I did when I left the church, I need to dismantle my beliefs, examine things I’ve always taken for granted, get dis-illusioned….about Christmas. I’d like to share some of the things I’m thinking, and would love to know the things you’re thinking.

Christmastime in my part of the world comes in the darkest, dreariest time of year. Daylight, sunshine, color and beauty are in short supply. But when I’d put up my tree, with its hundreds of lights and ornaments treasured for 40 years, it was like I was pushing back the darkness for awhile, warding it off. Is that…healthy? Are there some harmless, possibly beneficial ways to escape reality?

In my former frenzy to festoon my life with light and color, I see a similarity to ancient peoples who celebrated the pagan holidays of which today’s Christmas is a descendant.

In ancient Babylon, the feast of the Son of Isis (Goddess of Nature) was celebrated on December 25 with raucous partying, gluttonous eating and drinking, and gift-giving. Sounds familiar.

In Rome, the winter holiday Saturnalia honored the God of Agriculture, and the whole season was called Dies Natalis Invicti Solis, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. Much merrymaking, and the tradition of caroling from house to house began there.

Northern Europe had Yule, which means “wheel”, a pagan symbol for the sun. Yule was celebrated on the shortest day of the year. Candles were lit to encourage the sun to reappear next year, and huge Yule logs were burned in the Sun’s honor. Live evergreen trees were brought inside as a reminder to inhabitants that soon their crops would grow again.

It doesn’t bother me anymore (like it did when I went to church and was more prissy) that Christmas was originally a “pagan” holiday. I just feel a kinship with those ancient people who were drawn to the sun because they didn’t yet know they really were drawn to the Son. I relate to them trying to cheer themselves up by caroling, gathering for bonfires, and greening up the living room.

The hope that was in those ancient folks was put in them by the same God who put it in me. He’s the true Sun of Righteousness, who arises with healing in his wings. He’s left stories of himself in the consciousness of all peoples across time, that he might draw them to himself.

I’ve been asking myself, what is the value or meaning of Christmas beyond all the hoopla? And I think it is one word: Emmanuel. God with us. From the beginning of time, God has sought to draw us in toward Himself… through Nature, through the Law and the Prophets, through every way available. And his piece de resistance is Jesus, who became one of us, who promises never to leave or forsake us, who makes his home right inside us.

Whether we rejoice that truth on Dec. 25 or August 10 makes no difference, but it is worth making merry over, isn’t it!?

It's not about what we are against, but Who we are for... and Who is for us.
Anonymous User
Re: Christmas
December 07, 2009 02:25PM
Good Post!
I already knew the history of Christmas as a pagan beginning. There was a time in my life when I considered stopping my celebration of it for those reasons. But I think I would have been robbing myself and my family of something very precious if I had. Upon re-evaluating all of it, I decided to keep it, even with its pagan underpinnings.

In our family, we all look forward to Christmas and its warm, bright family time. It is a bright spot in the darkness of winter, and I look at valentine's day the same. Add some color in the dark. Keep looking up. It all represents Emmanuel, and He created us to long for it. The family traditions we have seem to cement our relationships with each other, and give the children a sense of belonging and expectancy and bond with the whole family. Our favorite tradition is our cookie baking day. Everyone is together, there are good smells, good eats, good flour fights. If there is snow/ice, the guys spend part of the day playing in it, while we bake up a huge pile of traditional cookies to share among ourselves and as gifts for others.
Even my 12 year old grandson had his hands in the cookie dough helping grandma. How I love those days!

When the kids were growing up, their school and church Christmas programs were absolutely the high point of Christmas for me. Now that they are grown, we attend as many of the grandchildren's special events as possible. The real meaning of Christmas is brought out in a special way when expressed by children. Even the gift giving part. If we look at it with the eyes of a child getting all excited about their special surprises to come, maybe we can get to that place with our anticipation of the wonders of "God With Us".We used to hide our kids' gifts in the house or come up with a silly way of presenting them. Example: the year we bought our daughter a tool kit cuz she was newly living on her own, we put part of the gift between two boards, tightly bolted in, so she would have to use her new tools to get at it! Much fun, much laughter. They still talk about some of the crazy stuff we did.

I guess I am saying I am not throwing away traditions just because they are traditions. That isn't always a bad word.
Traditions can be an expression of the "glue" that holds a family together. For us, they definitely are.

Each of us has to come to the conclusion that Papa has for us individually on things like this. For me, yes, there are parts of the holiday that I dislike, but I would not even consider doing away with my observance of it--to do so would be to "throw the baby away with the bathwater".
Re: Christmas
December 07, 2009 10:04PM
Hi "Sisters"

Yes I too was thinking about the reason we "keep" doing it? As for our family we have both sides of the argument!!

My wife has grown up with a family that really love it because of the gifts and family time. Lots of children and grandchildren about and heaps of laughter. (This may well change since we have hosted it at our place for the last 10+/- years and many no longer are around) The tree is often nearly buried with prezzies under it.
The only thing they are really not into is the caroling and anything to do with Jesus or God (except for 1 other sister on my wife's side) My wife still loves the Tree time and decorating it and the rest well ... lets say is for the kids mainly - when her folks pass away this too will probably change.

As for me my family time was very quiet, since im an only child, my mother was brought up during the WW2 and (evacuated from Belgium) spent some time with nuns in UK in her youngest years. My dad was an atheist and although he softened a bit - i never really saw him or heard him talk much to us or others about it all.

Me - well a real mix of factual knowledge, the lack of having any real tradition's and seeing the worldly concept for so many, then trying to find the Christian "slant" on things has left me a bit ... um ... morbid maybe of the whole thing (if thats the best word i can find right now.)

I suppose for the real meaning for me is that "everyday" is special weather I "feel it" or not cool smiley
It's hard to find anything that Jesus said to celebrate one day of the year over any other - although he did say every time we get together, to remember him. Perhaps for some we still really forget that and fall short of sharing that with others. Jesus forgive me for the times that I have not recognised this in my life.

Traditions - well some a re great and others are well... not so great smiling smiley For the purpose it is the "reason" why we do what we do and if that is to be Christ to others then what better reason is there? After all what greater Love is there than to "love one another as I have loved you"

Keep Baking those yummy cookies (my wife loves baking - ex family of 6)
Make special memories of and for those in your family and friendship circles.
Remember the lost and seek what Abba Father desires of you this "festive" season - maybe He will show you something that you never thought of? (He does that)

Above all "remember the reason for the season"

Group Hug
Re: Christmas
December 08, 2009 08:28AM
Thanks C Shell, and all, for sharing your thoughts on Christmas. I have struggled for a few years on this.... but kind of alone. My husband is the kind of person who is totally traditional. You can tell him you don't want something, but if it is against his expectations, then he just flat our doesn't hear. That bothered me for a few years, but I think I will stop butting heads with him and just let him be.

At first, when I was still in the box, I was miffed that all the "Christians" were acting so pagan. Then. when I got out of the box, I was miffed because the Christians were miffed that folks say "Happy Holiday" and forget the "reason for the season". Now, I am growing weary of being miffed, and just tired for health reasons. Like you C Shell, living in Alaska, and struggling with kidney failure..... I knew ahead of time I had to fight that battle that nearly did me in last winter. I was so depressed.

Now, I still hate shopping, and especially "stimulating the economy" in the name of a holy day. I just don't like shopping. Stuff, I have been trying hard to simplify, and shopping, and receiving "stuff" that I don't really care for, isn't part of the simple life.....

This year I am working towards a new oak floor that I have been in need of for about 25 years (honestly). I have been tripping over uneven, terribly worn rugs and different elevations of unfinished floor. So, getting the new wood floor, to me will be simplifying (and wonderful), and if I had a big old Christmas tree (we always go out and cut down a huge one) then I would have to move it to work on the floor. We also are planning on traveling to LA to see my father-in-law (he suffers from Alzheimer's) from Christmas through New Years, so leaving a house sitter with my three cats to climb the tree, well, that wouldn't work either.

Besides the changes in our spiritual understandings and relationships, I think that there are physical seasons in our lives too. With me, my daughter wouldn't be home (she has agreed to travel with us however, and I am very happy about that). My in-laws who live nearby and have small children will be in Florida.... so, you see there just are a lot of reasons for me to not get crazy about it this year.

Someone said, in reply to all of the whining by the religious folks about the Christ being taken out of Christmas and replaced with Happy Holidays, I heard someone say, "what's really said is the Christians without Christ in them".

So, I have had my years of fussing over it all, being miffed, yadda yadda. I suppose my husband will act foolish buying crap that no one wants because that's just what he does. But I hope to just live loved, relaxing in His grace.
Re: Christmas
December 08, 2009 01:23PM
What wonderful responses so far!!! I love hearing how others relate to Christmas. There's no "right" or "wrong" to this at all. I love hearing about your beautiful family traditions, Phoebe. and Lionhearted, thanks for saying it just this way:

he did say every time we get together, to remember him.
Heather, I'm excited about your new floor; that will make your life more pleasant all year long. And as for this:
Hopeful Heather
I hope to just live loved, relaxing in His grace.
I'm with you!
Re: Christmas
December 09, 2009 03:31AM
wasn't Jesus's birthday in September? winking smiley

Just kidding grinning smiley

Hope you all are well .

Re: Christmas
December 10, 2009 12:59PM
I thought it was March? Halo

I like hearing about everyone's traditions, experiences, and thoughts/feelings now.
I want to share my own, but I'm off to work. Catch Y'all later!! Keep Posting!! Big Hug!
Anonymous User
Re: Christmas
December 10, 2009 02:46PM
Over the years and seasons of life, family traditions and activities change. Some changes are sad, others are freeing.
This year our adult kids decided that we should take the money that we would have spent if we drew names for gifts, and give it to World Vision, with whom all of us have sponsored children. So on Christmas Eve when we are together we will go through the WV catalog and choose our chickens and goats to purchase for people so that they can begin to support themselves. I am really proud of them for this.
Last year we pooled the money and got together for supper and a concert. That was cool too.
The fun is in watching the young ones open their gifts. Once they are grown, things will change again I am sure.

Heather, I didn't know you had kidney trouble. How are you doing this winter? and how do you deal with the long dark days? In Minnesota it is dark enough...I don't think I could handle MORE darkness than what we have. But...Alaska makes up for it in summer with the long sunny days and lots of beautiful flower gardens!
Re: Christmas
December 11, 2009 07:48AM
Phoebe, I am not sure how I survive up here..... I had a very hard time last winter and really got depressed. It kind of scared me, so I am working on trying to keep ahead of the game. We are going to CA for Christmas, and then to Hawaii in February. I haven't traveled much in the last year because of all of this, so am hoping that it will be alright. I really need some exercise as well as warm thawed out ground. Just a LOT of changes in my life, but not all bad. Ditching religion and the lies I used to believe, learning to live loved, one day at a time is a challenge but well worth it.
Re: Christmas
December 11, 2009 11:36PM
Not Only Christmas Day a poem.

Lord, this is my prayer
Not only on Christmas Day
But until I see You face to face
May I live my life this way:

Just like the baby Jesus
I ever hope to be,
Resting in Your loving arms
Trusting in Your sovereignty.

And like the growing Christ child
In wisdom daily learning,
May I ever seek to know You
With my mind and spirit yearning.

Like the Son so faithful
Let me follow in Your light,
Meek and bold, humble and strong
Not afraid to face the night.

Nor cowardly to suffer
And stand for truth alone,
Knowing that Your kingdom
Awaits my going home.

Not afraid to sacrifice
Though great may be the cost,
Mindful how You rescued me
From broken-hearted loss.

Like my risen Savior
The babe, the child, the Son,
May my life forever speak
Of who You are and all You've done.

So while this world rejoices
And celebrates Your birth,
I treasure You, the greatest gift
Unequaled in Your worth.

I long to hear the same words
That welcomed home Your Son,
"Come, good and faithful servant,"
Your Master says, "Well done."

And may heaven welcome others
Who will join with me in praise
Because I lived for Jesus Christ
Not only Christmas Day

If God can use a donkey, then He can use an ass like me!
Re: Christmas
December 11, 2009 11:42PM
THAT IS AWESOME, Joshuacorp!!!!!! Haha good oneApplause

Did you write that, brother? If so, Woah. Either way, Thanks for sharing that simple and beautiful and meaningful poem.
Re: Christmas
December 12, 2009 01:39AM
I moved my post down, because I think the following response was meant for the poem above. tongue sticking out smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/12/2009 02:13PM by Theresa7.
Re: Christmas
December 12, 2009 01:39AM
WOW That was greatGood Job

News flash:
God is not angry with you. He loves you.
If you don't believe that,
or think it's too good to be true,
or that I'm making it up - ask Him! smiling smiley
Re: Christmas
December 12, 2009 02:12PM
Christmas Tree -- I miss having a tree. Or maybe I should say, I miss the IDEA of having a tree.

I like the snuggling-on-the-couch-and-staring-at-the-lights-time. But this hasn't happened in years. "Snuggling-on-the-couch-and-staring-at-the-lights-time" takes TIME,...which seems to be in short supply. (We're moving between Christmas and New Year's Day, so there is really NO time this year.)

I remember going out with my dad when I was a kid. He'd spend HOURS looking for the perfect tree (yes, in the woods). He even "scouted out" trees months ahead of time -- he worked for the US Forest Service, so he was in the forest regularly. I loved the smell of the pine in the house, and I loved staring at the lights over a cup of cocoa.

Then when I grew up and lived on my own, I wasn't going to cut my own tree, and I just couldn't stand the idea of PAYING for a live tree every year only to have it wither, drop its needles, and be a fire hazard if I forgot to turn the lights off. So, I bought a beautiful "FAUX" Blue Spruce. I made a wreath out of the bottom branches, because it was too wide at the base. I loved it - both the tree AND the wreath. Luv

One year, I put my tree up on Halloween just so I could enjoy it longer. My house was REALLY small, so I put it on the porch so I could look at it out the big front window. Not long after Thanksgiving, the tree was gone. "Gone?", you ask. Yep. Stolen. eye popping smiley Someone STOLE my Christmas tree -- decorations, lights, and all -- from off my front porch. The matching wreath was still hanging on my door though. NeenerNeener

My husband and I had a few trees after we got married. The one I really remember was the Christmas after the fire in our basement. The Fire melted most of our decorations (along with everything else in storage), so our landlady gave us a plastic tree from the salvation army store. But this tree was "flocked" -- covered in fake snow Barf -- so it was incredibly messy, and we didn't keep it.

Since then, I just haven't gotten another one. Life has been so crazy, that I think it would actually make me sad. I would want to sit and stare at it, but I wouldn't have time (what with the move and all). I'm hopeful that we'll have our own home by next Christmas. ... But even then, I don't know if I'll decorate or not. I want the "cozy-feeling", but I'm not sure decorations can give me that.
Anonymous User
Re: Christmas
December 12, 2009 02:23PM
Wow, I can't believe they stole your Christmas tree. That seems a bit...beyond...
We had a cute little concrete (heavy) garden bench in my front garden, and that got stolen sometime during the winter. I can't believe how brazen people can be. And I am sorry about your loss. I wouldn't want to lose all my ornaments. They are special to me. I make a new ornament for each grandchild each year, so I am getting quite a collection of them, along with the ones I made for each kid's wedding and a few family treasures.
This year being a low-energy year, I put up my smaller tree, and it isn't the same. But it is enough to had that special soft light to the room at night. I did get my village pieces set up in the bay window, the kids would kill me if I didn't.
CHristmas is different without the hamster wheel of church activities. But I am enjoying my solitude too.
Re: Christmas
December 16, 2009 03:24AM
This may be a little out of context but the thread is titled 'Christmas' so this is a cultural enquiry really.....

Here in New Zild Christmas happens in the middle of our summer and our big (ie 6 week) summer holidays when schools are closed and lots of working people take annual leave. For example my work place is closed between 23 Dec and doesn't reopen until 5 January (lots of places are closed longer), and my daughter finished school yesterday and doesn't go back until the 2 February.

My understanding is that the States (or parts of it cos I know it's huge) are in the midst of winter. So what happens at Christmas, does the world come to a stop for a couple of days or weeks, and then normal life resumes?..... Cos I think summer break for you is June/ July time?

Just wondering.
Re: Christmas
December 16, 2009 01:27PM
Gil, good question. Here in New England(north eastern part of the state) it is winter. Schools let out from 12/23 to 1/5. But most business only close for the Christmas day and maybe Christmas Eve too. Some places closed for the week or so but off hand I don't know any. Also people can take their vacation time now too.
Summer for us is July and August but other parts of the States it is June, July and August.
Hopes this helps
Merry Christmas, May God Bless and keep you.

News flash:
God is not angry with you. He loves you.
If you don't believe that,
or think it's too good to be true,
or that I'm making it up - ask Him! smiling smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/16/2009 05:10PM by dogwoodflwr.
Anonymous User
Re: Christmas
December 16, 2009 02:03PM
I live in Minnesota, in the upper middle U.S.
We have the winter holiday break as DWF said. Most people I think take their vacations either later in the winter or in the summer. Summer here is June, July, and August; but September and October are usually quite nice too.
The days are short. The winter solstice is in December causing the shortest sunlight days of the year. It is getting dark by 4:30 p.m. and light again at about 7:00 a.m. Some folks go to work in the dark and come home in the dark.
So the lights and bright colors of Christmas add some bright warmth to the season. During their Christmas vacation, the kids (of all ages winking smiley )can go skating, play in the snow, skiing, sledding, snowmobile riding, and some enjoy ice-fishing on the lakes.
Christmas is so engrained in winter weather and short days, that I can't really imagine it any other way. It is so fun and interesting to get all these perspectives, isn't it? We are a wide-spread family...but there really is no distance between us at all!

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/16/2009 02:06PM by Phoebe.
Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.

Click here to login

Online Users

Guests: 15
Record Number of Guests: 987 on June 05, 2015
Hosted by DownTownHost