Thursday, November 12, 2009

Christmas vs. Tradition

CHRIST ON A CROSS!! I feel like I have a zillion balls in the air and my clumsy hands can't catch a one as they fall. Between working at Tonkin this week, I did the Drambuie Dens Monday and Tuesday nights, working Friday night at Grand Central Bowl, plan Andrew's 30th birthday party (11/20/09) and squeeze in starting/finishing homework, laundry, eating, seeing Andrew besides when he's sleeping, hug the pups and shower.

Oh yeah. Christmas present shopping.

Christmas is right around the corner and I still have mixed emotions about this holiday. I never understood this holiday. Growing up we did not celebrate holidays or birthdays. I never felt like I missed out or was robbed of anything, but now that I'm older, I enjoy the holidays for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do w/religion. I love decorating my apartment. I love the smell of a Christmas tree and hanging Andrew's ornaments and hearing the story that goes along w/each one. I love putting my dogs in stupid elf and Santa costumes. I'm sure Jesus was an awesome dude that spread the word of peace and love but the whole son of God and miracles...? What's a miracle are the obnoxious masses that believe this born-of-a-virgin baby was born in a barn in deep December and wanted us to celebrate this birth by buying spoiled tots Tickle-Me-Elmos at $50 a pop. (I'm getting off point here.)- - - - - - - - - >

I love buying my friends, selected family members and boyfriend presents, wrapping them and hoping I get them something they like, want, or need. This is something I didn't really experience for the first 21-23 years of my life. In high school I would give a close friend a birthday or Christmas present. But it was always something lame - I didn't have a real job so the gift would be something cheap and small. The energy and time that goes into shopping for someone is exhausting. I never know if what I want to buy is "enough" or if something they'd normally just buy themselves so it's not that exciting. This American tradition of stressing over gifts, the value of the gifts has now successfully sneaked into my guarded Jehovah's Witness (sorta) life and corrupted my balance. This tradition sucks.

One tradition I've started w/o putting any thought or planning into is each year I take Audrey, (my best friend), to a show for our birthdays. Mine is Dec. 10th, Aud's Dec. 15th. We usually go to a concert, this year it's to the musical production of Beauty and the Beast. This present is something I cherish! So much has happened in the 10-11 years we have been close friends, we've grown apart, grown closer, matured and have grown into young, complicated women. But for a few hours in mid-December, we can unplug and enjoy the show.

I don't know what that means. It makes me wonder, what if my folks would have put more energy into making a tradition out of bonding instead of preaching Jehovah would we have benefited more as a family unit? I know my father believed (believes) he was saving our souls, but what about the family? Today the 10 of us have no bond. We have random text messages separated by weeks, sometimes months. Short quips posted on Facebook and hollow words of endearment when a birthday rolls around. It's so strange that the seven people that make up my fondest memories have no association beyond a common last name.

When I "celebrate" Christmas, I feel it's a way for me to create a tradition b/c I've never had one. There is nothing my family does on a specific date, place or anything that brings us all back together. Well, we do have a song. One that I think became a staple in our household b/c my father's mother was especially fond of it, so as a teenager my father learned to play it on guitar and would sing it for his mother. In turn, us kids were raised w/my Dad often singing this song and encouraging us to sing in full voice during the chorus. I think today if we heard that song, all ten of us, that's eight kids and the two parents, would all have some memory and warm, happy feeling come over us.

Cotton Fields. That's my family's Christmas.


Jessica Eiden Smedley said...

I suppose it's been easier for me to strip away the emotion when making familial decisions; it's been very cut and dry when deciding what or who is relevant in my life.

Don't waste too much energy on regret and playing the "what if" game. It will consume your soul.

As for holiday traditions...I see it as we never had any, so there's nothing to miss. Sounds like you are forging your own with the people you want. Exactly what a "holiday" should be.

PS: Stop destroying live trees ;)

pink*avenger said...

It's so great you're able to dissect this subject openly! Dealing with holidays is still such a hard concept for me to grasp. They look fun and do promote togetherness, yet so stressful and costly. Right now, everyone in my house is former Witnesses, dealing with various levels of realizing our disillusionment. It's nice to know someone else I grew up with is in a similar mindset. It makes me wonder how many people out there have to go through this, you know?

pink*avenger said...

p.s. - I blame all my poor grammarizations in that comment to my snuggly cat who doesn't like anyone typing. Hah!

Hayley Freakin' Rules said...

Rhea - I know of "ex" JWs that are just as confused as I am. I almost want to start a blog dedicated to us!! I harbor no bad feelings towards Witnesses. They are some of the sweetest, soft spoken, kind people I've ever met. My father is a practicing, very practicing Witness up in Castle Rock, WA. It's such a struggle to talk to him or read his emails, since it always comes back around to me not being in the truth and that he just wants to save me. I know he's a smart man, that's why I'm so confused/upset/disappointed that he believes in this so much. Let it give you comfort, sure. But don't spoil your life and your children's lives by making this pretend thing seem real. The kids will pay for it in the long run.