Friday Challenge: Tis’ The Season

Today’s challenge is to reach back into your own personal Christmas Story and recall what the holidays were like in Fundamentalism.

Has your celebration changed in form or focus? Do you do different things now than you did then? Do you now worship Santa Claus and participate in the debauchery of rock music around the Christmas tree?

We’d really like to know.


Did you know that you can give Kindle e-books as a gift? If you’ve got fundies on your list a copy of Fundamental Flaws may be just what they’re missing!

143 thoughts on “Friday Challenge: Tis’ The Season”

  1. As a young parent, the fad at the time was to NEVER let the children think that anyone (Santa) but the parents provided the gift. We were actually told, “You should get the credit fot the gift.” Ah, yes, because getting the credit is what the holidays is all about.

    1. My fundie in-laws don’t give their kids Christmas presents at all because “it’s better to give than to receive.” (Also, they are white trash cheapskates.) Anyway, I asked them once if that meant that they and their children found someone to give to during Christmas. They looked at me like I was speaking Mandarin and said “why would we do that?” Apparently they just used that verse to justify giving their kids nothing and didn’t bother with the “giving” part.

  2. regarding the picture, it’s a Jesse Tree. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tree_of_Jesse

    I was twenty-something, still living at home as a maiden of virtue, when my dad decided having a Christmas tree was “idolatry” and my mother was not allowed to get one.

    Well, I took my money, went to the craft store, bought a 6″ tree & battery operated lights. I set it up in the family room and Mom and I worshipped it. We couldn’t hardly manage to say “Ohhhhh Christmas treeeeee” without laughing hysterically.

    Momma got her real tree.

    1. I had never heard of a Jesse tree until earlier today during music practice at the base chapel. Some of the Catholic ladies were setting up some bare branches in preparation for Sunday. They said it was a Jesse tree and showed us the literature that went with it and the ornaments to go on it to represent the ancestors of Jesus. The Protestant chaplain’s wife and I had never heard of this. We were both delighted and she thinks it should stay up for our service later in the morning because it teaches some wonderful truth. So, what is to happen if fundies were to discover that the Catholics are using the Jesse Tree? :smile:

      1. I had never heard of a Jesse tree until a few years ago. I don’t think most fundies do it for the same reason most don’t do Advent.

        I wonder if it has been popping up again due to homeschooling? Homeschoolers love researching things and finding meaningful, interactive activities to do with their kids to reinforce the learning they’re doing. Some homeschoolers might have introduced the Jesse tree and other fundies adopted it, but I’d never heard of anyone doing one, again probably due to the whole secondary separation issue.

        1. well, I’m married to a Catholic, so lots of their traditions find their way into my house. :)

          We have an advent wreath, and next year, we’re going to do a Jesse Tree. And I’m totally leaving Christmas up till Epiphany/12th Night.

      1. From what I can find, a traditional “Tree of Jesse” has NOTHING to do with a modern fir-tree Christmas tree (which makes sense since the modern Christmas tree comes from the Protestant side of Christianity). Just another way fundies have found to do something they otherwise think is bad while finding a “good” label for it that makes it okay. This, I think, is what was meant by the verse “woe unto them that call evil good” (or however it goes). There is something wrong about doing something that one believes to be wrong simply because one has come up with a cool new name for that thing.

  3. We weren’t in an IFB church until much later in life. As a kid I still remember listening to Karen Carpenter Christmas and Barry Manilow while we set up the tree as a family.

    Once we went to an IFB lite church, about the only constant was to make sure we were in church on Sunday regardless of the day.

    If Christmas fell on a Sunday, heaven forbid that they would change the day of the service so people could be with their families.

    Instead people would rush their family observances and traditions and try to make haste as they ran to Sunday School which would start at the same time. There was even a Sunday night service as well.

    Of course some faithful people would show up…but I detested the days Christmas fell on Sunday. We’d be guilted into coming to church with phrases like, “It’s Jesus birthday, you should be in church” and the like.

    1. Same here. I got saved when I was 18 so my introduction into the IFB was as an adult. My mom and former stepfather started attending when I was 16 after 2 women door knocked our house. My abusive stepfather when from bad to worse in terms of abuse. Only now, it was sanctioned by the church! Anyway, only happy thoughts in the Christmas season so I’ll stop there!

      So my childhood sounds like yours as a child of the 80s. What was the funnest part was watching Christmas cartoons almost every night from Thanksgiving until Christmas. Charlie Brown were and still are my favorites!

    2. We did the same while we were in too. At one point our very large IFB church finally decided on a Christmas eve service instead as so many didn’t show up on Christmas morning like they wanted them to. :lol:

    3. Last Christmas my wife and I were up North with her family and we attended her parent’s IBF church. They were mad at us for only going to 9:30 S.S. and Sunday morning service, but not Sunday night. We wanted to spend time with my wife’s brother and his family.

      1. SFL: making up rules that totally aren’t in the Bible but that they can be mad at other Christians when they won’t follow them, especially at Christmas because that’s what the season of peace and love and joy is all about

        1. PW: Funny you mentioned “peace”. So many fundies have such little peace. Either with themselves or with others.

  4. I was in one church where Christmas was forbidden as pagan. I’m not going to look up the verse, but it was in the OT and it went something like this…”and they put silver and gold on a tree.”

    Of course, every year, I had to sit through the Christmas program which would be so long. At MBBC, we had to sit through the Messiah. I remember in 1996, Arno Q. Weniger was so damn greedy he actually took an offering at a Christmas program!! I was married at that time, but my hubby and I remember commenting on it. How stinking tacky. That’s because the public in Watertown was invited for free and he could make a few bucks. He also built a multimillion dollar library too with Greek columns.

    Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked. We’re going shopping tonight though! I’ll have to sit in the electric scooter for hours b/c my still recovering foot swells when I walk to much!

    I don’t teach my kids about Santa, but I don’t think it’s a really big deal if parents do. I do really enjoy this time of year though. I have my Mannheim Steamroller Christmas music out already!

    1. And for your listening enjoyment, my favorite Christmas song..”Joy to the World” by Mannheim Steamroller. Joy..something the IFB stifled in our lives. Not anymore!

      1. I just remembered, this song would NOT pass the MBBC music check b/c it had Satanic :twisted: syncopation something I learned in my music classes and from my piano teacher.

    2. Yeah, that one gets people going. Somehow everyone who wants to condemn Christmas trees conveniently skips over the craftsman shaping it with a chisel. Idgits.

      1. Ah, but that’s because you lack faith, brother. The woodsman has to chop down the tree – with an axe. And axes, we all know have a blade – just like a chisel! This is Satan’s way of pulling the wool over your eyes! Speaking of axes, dontcha know that the “axe is already laid at the root of the tree”? This pagan fertility tree abomination during Jesus’ birthday could trigger the rapture!

      2. So here’s the funny thing. My parents were the kind of fundy that always tried to out-fundy everyone else (yes, we were THAT family). So, since everyone else condemned trees and either didn’t have one or felt guilty for having one, we gleefully put up a huge beautiful tree every year because my parents thought that showed just how much more spiritual we were than everyone else that we could handle having a tree and still be better than everyone else.

  5. Yes to all types of Christmas music including rock. :) No to the whole Santa thing. At least I don’t make my kids sit through the reading of the birth of Jesus from the Bible on Christmas morning, before they are even allowed to open presents or eat breakfast. :shock:

    1. I’m sure the parents could have a cup of coffee though. Such wicked sinners for having coffee prior to reading the Christmas story from all the gospels.

  6. Oddly enough, while the IFB church we went to was ridiculous in most standards, they were really lax on Christmas. We would listen to all of the secular music (not in church, of course!) and I always wondered why I could listen to Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas is You, but none of her other songs. Someone would even dress as Santa and give out gifts. I think it’s because Christmas was one of the standards that the pastor saw fit to modify to what he thought was right because it was fun for him. But don’t you dare mention the Easter bunny. While it was okay to divert a little bit of attention from Jesus’ birth by focusing on Santa, how dare you blaspheme Jesus’ death by telling children that a rabbit brought them candy and eggs?!

    As far as how I celebrate now, I get to wear pants, which is always a plus. When Christmas falls on Sunday, our church has a Christmas Eve service and then lets people spend the day with their families, while growing up, we still had Sunday School, AM service and a PM service. We still keep one thing from my IFB childhood and that’s reading Luke 2 before we open gifts. But it’s the NIV, so I’m sure they left out all of the important parts under the devils influence while translating.

    1. We all just know that “-th” is more Godly than “-s”. And don’t get anyone started about “thee.” You know, the FAMILIAR and INFORMAL version of the second person singular. :shock:

      1. I remember when my fundy mother tried to use the whole thee-you distinction to defend the KJV and she got mixed up and described the you-thou distinction backwards. She thought that “thou” was the more exalted, respectful form rather than the more personal form. I pointed out to her that her inability to get this distinction right demonstrated exactly why King James English doesn’t have any special “extra” meaning for the modern reader. Her reply: “well, I still like the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ because they are so much more respectful.”

        1. So, apparently, in furtherance of its evil plot to destroy my life, my phone has now changed my name on SFL.

  7. The MOG of one fundy church my family attend when I was a kid believed Christmas trees were idols because on Christmas morning you knelt before it to get presents. :shock: I guess changing a flat tire, and maybe even putting something under the bed is also idol worship since you kneel before an inanimate object. Another church we attended, after the above church, the MOG shot a Santa Clause a church member put in his yard as a practical joke. The MOG’s actions make complete sense because when you switch the letters of Santa around we all know what it spells. :roll:

    1. Since wife and I are living under grace we listen to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Christmas CD, as well as Christmas music from a lot of other people. We don’t have children yet, but we already plan on telling them about Santa (and the Easter Bunny), but we want to ensure they know the real reason for why we celebrate Christmas and Easter. Being a history buff, I’m sure I’ll sneak in why Christmas is celebrated in December for the fun of it. We have a nice Christmas tree, and even decorated in on Sunday night this year.

    2. When I was in college (I went to a Catholic university) I minored in classics (Latin and Greek). Our pastor knew this and one day when I was home for Christmas called me out in front of the Sunday School to support his “Santa – Satan” theory. Of course, that is nonsense, and I told him so. He was irritated and said “well, its still something to think about.”

      1. Small world. My older son is double-majoring in history and classics…but at a huge public university. (We couldn’t afford the Catholic ones.) What did you end up doing with your degree? Older son is kinda-sorta planning on law school.

        1. I studied politics and classics at the University of Dallas. (I couldn’t afford going to a Catholic U. either but my fundie upbringing had made me terrified of going to one of those “hell-hole” state schools that are actually affordable. Of course, in the mind of my family and their church, Catholic U. was a “hell-hole” too!) It’s funny that your son is considering law school because that is exactly what I did! I had initially hoped to pursue an academic career (e.g., a PhD) but my grades weren’t quite high enough to get me into a top graduate school, so I opted for law school instead. Law school ended up going very well for me and I am now happily employed as an attorney. However, I had a very good friend who also was not brilliant in the grades department (but was quite brilliant in person) who took his time with the grad school thing and ultimately got into a great graduate program studying philosophy at the University of Maryland. So, I think studying classics in undergrad has the potential to open lots of doors, depending on how hard you are willing to work and how patient you are willing to be about getting into the grad school of your choice.

  8. I remembering setting up the manger scene. We had a green velvety spread to put under it and we would add extra sheep on hillside behind the stable. My parents wouldn’t have a Christmas tree because they didn’t want the focus off Jesus, so presents usually got piled in front of the fireplace or the picture window.

    We didn’t have a TV so no Frosty or Grinch. We also didn’t do Santa, so no stockings or Santa photos at the mall. If my mom bought a value roll of wrapping paper and a Santa-themed paper was found hidden inside, she’d throw it out.

    We always taped all our Christmas cards around the doorframe leading into the kitchen. I was always excited about the Christmas program at our small church, and I liked getting a little gift from my Sunday School teacher each year.

    1. Nowadays, we decorate, have a tree, have a nativity, watch Christmas specials, and listen to all the music. (We love air jamming to Christmas Eve Sarajevo!)

      We do stockings and have left out cookies for Santa, but didn’t talk about him much with the older kids. Nothing against him but nothing much about him either. But my youngest is a few years younger than the others so I think she thinks Santa is real, partly because the older ones like to tell her about the sleigh and the reindeer, etc.

      We love going to an area church that has a “Walk through Bethlehem” every other year.

      A few years ago, Christmas fell on Sunday. We canceled Sunday school and PM service but had an 11:00 service with lots of carols and a time when we called all the children up to sit on the platform, told them a story, and gave them all a present.

      1. What a neat idea to give all the kids presents on a Sunday Christmas. Last time Christmas was on a Sunday our church had a Christmas eve service and a 1 hour Christmas day service and people could choose which to attend. (Although since my husband is a worship leader, we were at both.)

  9. What I remember is how little of Christ there was in our Christmas celebration. Yes, we had the Christmas program, but never, ever heard of a Christmas Eve service. Christmas Eve was always for family and opening presents, etc. We also never celebrated Advent and I didn’t even really know anything about Advent until we started attending our current church about 5 years ago. (and I’m in my 50’s!).

    1. I grew up Fundie and then SBC as an adult. Recently we started at a Methodist church……I had NO idea what Advent was either!!

  10. Thankfully Christmas time was one of the things we always did the same…before the IFB, during, and after.

    I guess we were already set in our ways and though our MOG howled from the pulpit of the evils of Santa, the commercialization of the holiday, and the “origins” of the “pagan” traditions, we didn’t really change like he wanted us to in that area.

    Now my IFB in-laws…that’s another story. :roll:

    1. Yeah, my in-laws too. They still do not have anything to do with Christmas. I have had to come to terms with the fact that my kids will never receive a present from my in-laws. Really sucks but I am used to it by now. My parents though celebrated Christmas and definitely did it big and went all out.

  11. It’s funny, because I actually can’t remember ever celebrating a normal Christmas. Not because my family doesn’t celebrate Christmas–we do do gifts and Christmas music and some decorating–but because I haven’t actually been home at Christmas since I was five years old. My family always went away, usually being involved with an annual mission trip thing in Mexico. On the trip, we didn’t have a tree or anything (kind of hard in a hotel!), but we did do a gift exchange and always went out to have a nice dinner, and a lot of times we’d then go caroling in Spanish.

    The last few years, mostly due to the situation in northern Mexico, I wasn’t able to go and instead ended up in a similar sort of trip in Texas, but this year I get to go back to Mexico again, which is very exciting. It’s funny, but I associate Mexico with Christmas much more strongly than trees or presents!

    It’s going to be weird someday when I’m actually in my house on Christmas Day… what would I do with myself? Sit around and stare at the ceiling? :razz:

  12. Our church didn’t make a big deal out of Christmas, mostly because of the perceived pagan/heathen associations. I do remember that our pastor refused to have a Christmas tree; instead his family had a nativity set that they moved closer to the pile of presents every day :roll: Our family did have a tree every year.

    We didn’t have special Christmas Eve services, greening of the church, food drives, carol singing, pageant, etc–I didn’t even know what Advent was until I attended a UMC with my husband after we got married. Last year I got to see my very first pageant at the local Episcopalian church. I guess overall, Christmas was a pretty joyless occasion when I was a kid. I do everything I can now to make this time of the year special and exciting for my kids.

  13. I’m now aware of the concept of the Advent season growing up and, while I don’t go to a church that follows a liturgical calendar, I do reflect on Advent as the red X’s get closer and closer to Christmas morn’.

  14. Oh, my! What a great subject! Grew up in the COC, “conservative” branch, but we used multiple plastic communion cups, had Sunday school, and paid a preacher. Our family didn’t have a TV, so we never watched all the classic Christmas movies and cartoons, though ours was the only family I ever knew of in the COC who just didn’t have a TV. We usually had a sermon at church on the Sunday before Christmas about how Christmas isn’t commanded in the Bible but is a pagan invention that the eeeevil Catholic Church appropriated because there was no other way to convert the pagan masses. For that reason it’s totally OK to celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday, but not as a religious holiday. So you can put up a tree and decorate it, you can sing “Holly Jolly Christmas” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”, you can drink (non-alcoholic) egg nog and wassail. You cannot put up a manger scene, you cannot sing “Silent Night” or “Angels We Have Heard on High”, you cannot have a nativity pageant. You know, when you get down to it, we were trying so hard to be good Christians that we celebrated all the possibly pagan traditions of the holiday and none of the overtly Christian ones. Makes perfect sense.

  15. Waiting in trepidation to hear about the latest person to piously be told by my dad about how they were celebrating “Baal’s birthday,” and waiting until later in the day to go down to my grandparents’ house to give all the relatives time to hide all their presents so us kids wouldn’t feel sad and left out (which we did anyway). That was most years of my childhood. =P My dad did finally give in in my late teens and let us participate in the presents, but my first Christmas tree wasn’t until I was on my own.

    1. My wife is basically the same way. Our kids have never received anything from her parents for Christmas. Her dad threw the tree out when she was a little kid and now we have 3 of them in our home! :) Why do people have to ruin such a great thing!?!?

  16. All the flap over Pope Benedict’s book on the Nativity, ie, were there really cows and sheep at the manager, was Jesus really born around “9 BC”, reminds me of my old Fundy school Nativities, and how the big deal was that the Magi came three years :shock: after the birth of the Christ child, because apparently He was a *Child* and not a *Baby*. In effect Joseph and Mary would be shown as two different scenes, one with a baby and one with a toddler, just to stay on the straight and narrow, all as set in stone by the good ol’ KJV. :roll:

  17. My most favorite fundy Christmas memory was being an angel (for about the 10th time) in the Christmas program. I remember lamenting to my father that I was always stuck being an angel because I had blonde hair. Whoever was fortunate enough to be picked to play Mary was ALWAYS a brunette or dark haired girl. So, this particular year I was whining to him about it, and he stated that this year he was going to make sure I was noticed. So, he rigged my halo with blinking lights attached to a battery pack and told me to wait until I was at the manger scene before turning it on. I stole the show that year :) I’m sure that irked a few of the frozen chosen, but my father and I thought it was pretty funny :grin:

  18. My dad made us HATE hearing the Christmas story every year because on Christmas morning, he would make us wait to open the presents while he read it from the Bible…

    1. My dad did the same thing and I’m so glad. It is one of my most cherished memories of him. I can’t read the Christmas story without crying.

    1. When they were little, my kids called him “Ho, Ho” because they couldn’t remember his name but knew that’s what he said.

      “Look! There’s Ho Ho!”

      While my husband and I thought it was tremendously funny and endearing, we decided we had to let them know the real name before their school classmates ridiculed them.

    2. I was with our Pastor and his 4 year old daughter when a store Santa approached her and asked her what she wanted for Christmas. She looked askingly at Dad who gave her permission. After the conversation, her eyes bright, She exclaimed, “Daddy, he BELIEVES in himself!”

  19. When I was about 10 (so we weren’t really fundies, but we were skating around the edges in some areas), my parents eliminated the Christmas tree in favor of an advent banner where each day you read a bit of the story of Messiah in chronological order (so prophecy to birth to crucifixion to ascension/coming again, as I recall). A few years after that, we moved gift-giving to Thanksgiving and only gave books at Christmas (to switch the focus, or some such). But the time I was in late high school, they had decided Christmas was a pagan ritual co-opted by the Catholic Church (horror of horrors), and we no long celebrated it at all. I spent a number of years convinced of that myself (Easter also, for the record). Now I feel perfectly free to celebrate Christmas with gifts and tree and advent rituals. It’s so silly to believe that God can cleanse a sanctify a person, but He’s incapable of cleansing and sanctifying a day. Paul made it pretty clear that observing a day or not observing a day was no thing, so I observe now. And I enjoy it.

  20. Our church made a big thing over The Christmas Gift to Jesus! Our Pastor even had a couple page list of all the needs of the church that could be met. We were preached to that this gift should be the most important of the season, and the most spent on $$$. He would have the entire church walk up to the platform on Christmas service and depostit our gifts at the altar for all to see. (Bet there were a few empty envelopes!)Think that tradition still goes on there.

    The second most important gift, of course, was the donation to the Pastor’s family’s Christmas gift!

    1. Our Fundy-Lite church did the “Christmas Present to Jesus” thing as well. I don’t remember there being a set budget/pastor salary, so I’m sure Jesus’ present was co-opted by the mog.

    2. And of course, the gift to Jesus had to go “through the local church” and couldn’t possibly be something like getting a homeless person a hotel room for a couple nights or paying January’s rent for a poor family down the block.

        1. Life as a whole is more fun. I was just telling my co worker, who is Catholic about trying to straighten out my brain since leaving The IFB crazy land. I told her that I will be forever conflicted about the Nativity because it has an image of Christ. I lol when she said “that’s a crazy cult thing to think”. How correct she. For the most part Christmas is happy and wonderful and maybe I over compensate. I want my children to be free of those thoughts. Free to be happy.

  21. I grew up in a sort of bizarro fundy world. Let me explain: my father was the mog of our little church in TN and he loved every aspect of a traditional Christmas celebration. Some of the wacko church members “had higher standards” and hated everything to do with “Santa’s Birthday”. Some of them would even refuse to sing certain Christmas carols out of the freaking hymn book.

    My mother dearly loved to plan elaborate Christmas parties at our house so all of the weirdos would have to see our prominently displayed “Baal Bush”.

    I was a bit of a prankster when I was a child. Every year the church put up a manger scene on the communion table. The church usually asked us teen boys to take up the offering. One Sunday night while I was allegedly leading in prayer I also pulled a small Santa on his sleigh out of my pocket and stuck it on top of the manger scene. When Brother and Sister Whackjob saw it they raised a stink and threatened to leave the church. The mog, my father, thought it was hilarious.

    1. Your story perfectly captures the real fundy attitude toward their pastor: we blindly submit when he teaches things that we agree with, but if he isn’t radical enough then it’s okay to ignore him and do what we want. Also known as: when he says something is a sin, we will always agree, but when he says something is okay, we reserve the right to say it’s a sin anyway.

      I saw this attitude all the time in fundy churches. Kind of made the whole “we love and submit to our pastor” shtick ring a bit hollow.

  22. Gosh, I gotta say…reading these stories makes me so glad I was raised Catholic. My childhood Christmases were utterly magical, even though my family of origin was (and is) pretty dang dysfunctional. :o

    We had it all: Christmas trees, the Creche (that’s what we called it; my dad made ours), electric candles in all the windows, little angel figurines, carols out the yin-yang, even Catholic comic books with the Christmas story, lol. We went to see Santa in downtown Boston (at the old Filene’s and Jordan’s, which were always decorated to the hilt–so magical!). Most years we even had snow. Oh my gosh. Such lovely memories!

    Panda Rosa: Have you seen the updates correcting the media misreporting re Pope Benedict’s book? He never said that there were no animals at the manger; in fact, he said just the opposite — that the manger indicates the presence of animals!

    All he said was that the Gospels do not explicitly mention the presence of animals (duhhh!) — not that critters weren’t in fact thereabouts, which they obviously were. Plus, he stated that, while the angel “said” the message to the shepherds (per the Gospel account), angel speech is actually song…so yes, the angels sang. Never trust the media to get the story right if it’s anything remotely related to religion! :)

    1. Thanx for at least getting the Pope’s book right! From some of the flap, you’d think the Vatican had shot down Santa’s sleigh. :roll:

  23. Christmas? Only Catholics and pagans celebrate Christmas, you know! If the Puritans didn’t celebrate it, why do we need to? *twitches*

    As I grew up, various aspects of Christmas celebration were removed each year from my church and by the time I was an adult, when it was all but forbidden to even be mentioned by name. Families who continued to celebrate it were told not to allow their children to talk about it at the Christian school. As a primary grade SS teacher, I was once told by an elder not to teach the regular December lessons in the curriculum because they were about the Incarnation. I said, sorry, I have already handed out the workbooks to my students. I could say so, so, so much more! :mad:

  24. By the way, I dunno..is it a little ironic that there’s so much animus toward Santa Claud? After all, he’s based on Saint Nicholas of Myra, the guy who punched Arius after the latter had made a long speech denying the Divinity of Christ. If that’s not muscular Christianity, what is? ;)

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  25. Oops, didn’t mean to post personal desktop URL, lol. Meant to post a Facebook meme. How do I upload an image? This is the name of the jpeg:

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    Thanks in advance!!

  26. I don’t have much (if anything at all) to complain about. My parents (or mom anyway) always loved the holidays, so we went all out with a big gaudily decorated tree, lots of gifts, tons of decorations and the whole nine yards. The one thing I really didn’t like about Christmas was when it fell on a Sunday and we had to go to church instead of relaxing at home. Usually, though, when that happened, my mom pressured my dad into “doing Christmas” on Christmas Eve so that we wouldn’t miss any of the fun.

    Now, my kids get up on Christmas morning to a well-lit house, presents, tress and all the fun things we did. The only thing I do differently is that we don’t go to church at all on Christmas no matter when it falls — although I’m not averse to a Christmas eve service — and we have waaaay more decorations since I have my own AND my mom’s. :grin:

  27. I grew up in an extreme fundy church that preached against Christmas. According to the pastor, EVERYTHING about Christmas was wrong – the tree, the ChristMASS (oooh, Catholic!), Santa, the time of year, etc. Every year he preached several sermons on the evils of Christmas and wondered why visitors didn’t come back. My father faithfully followed his teachings and during my entire childhood, we did not celebrate Christmas. No tree, no presents, no nativity, nothing. Except – my father did love Christmas music. WE were allowed to listen to it during the holidays, especially as we drove around to look at everyone’s Christmas lights. I also remember getting to see quite a few Christmas videos, including A Christmas Story, surprisingly enough.
    My husband grew up in a house that did the opposite – joyously celebrated Christmas all December long, with all the trimmings. When we married, I embraced all of his traditions, and we added a few of our own. We do enjoy doing Santa – the cookies and such, but he is not the focus of our Christmas. My favorite tradition is advent, in which the kids and I make an ornament every day in December that represents a part of the Christmas story. Today we glued sparkly jewels onto an old CD to represent Mary’s song of worship when she visited Elisabeth. :grin: We do the tree and the presents (probably in excess – the kids are pretty spoiled), but we try to balance it with giving in other ways – Samaritan’s Purse, needy kids in the are, etc, and getting our kids involved.
    I love Christmas!!!! It makes me sad that I never got to make these memories with my family growing up. I guess the pastor just wanted to make everyone’s lives miserable. Oh wait, I think that’s called CONTROL… :???:

  28. Actually, you ALL have the meaning of Christmas wrong! You see, according to my evil sister-in-law who wouldn’t help us one bit after my son died, Christmas (and I quote) “is about my four children” and not helping you.

    I had a fairly normal (and wonderful) Christmas growing up with the tree and the gifts, etc. In our house the stockings only came from Santa b/c my mother “didn’t want a fictional character to get the credit for the gifts.” But I didn’t mind that. Santa left most excellent stockings!

    What really really really really bothers me about “the holidays” was the WATCH NIGHT service at church on New Year’s Eve. I hated hated hated being stuck at church until well past midnight with stupid cold sandwiches made by weird old ladies from church and having to sit in the pews for hours on end. I thought it was against my Fundie teaching to anticipate that Jesus would return on New Year’s Eve. It’s not that I had anywhere else to go as a kid, but I just thought it was pointless and uncomfortable.

    1. Watch night services! Don’t remind me. I may have to go into therapy for the memory. When I was a teenager my dad was on sabbatical from being a pastor ( my sister had was Un married and pregnant) We went to this IFB church that loved to pray in the NewYear. Pray that God would return and get them out of this awful world. That was when I decided that the reason they wanted out of their lives prematurally was because they were such failures. As a 16 year old I had little to no respect for people who went to 2 years of Bible college and expected to have a 500 member church follow him around listening to him pontificate. Alas when it didn’t happen they would become bitter. Soon they wanted The Lord Jesus to bail them out for not getting a degree and going to seminary. I wounded if the thought ever crossed their lazy, whiney minds to get off their butts and finish their education.

      1. If they had all died in a church fire on New Year’s Eve, do you think they would have been happy? :twisted:
        Okay, I know that’s sick, but sometimes you wonder about such killjoys.

        1. Would they be happy in heaven? IDK. When I journey to my childhood area and see those people I am always surprised that they are still in a time warp. Back we go to the early 80’s. maybe they wished they had died than. Recently, one of the men who is the main person I think of when these memories come back told me that if he “got cancer I wouldn’t fight it”. I couldn’t help myself and told him that it would be for the best. Just goes to show ya there is joy in serving Jesus.

  29. Hmm…where do I start?!
    We didn’t celebrate Christmas. Every. Single. Tradition. Had some sort of pagan and/or Catholic background and was rejected.
    But – we would travel around and listen to Christmas music, and admire other people’s decorations and trees! I wanted a tree so badly!
    My Dad was a youth pastor, and our church was fundie-lite (we were the more conservative fringe). One Christmas party, the leaders in the church thought my parents weren’t going to be there, so they took a recording of my Dad preaching, and ‘played it backwards’, where they ‘discovered’ that he was actually singing Christmas carols. Pretty funny joke – except my parents showed up and were pretty devastated that they were being made fun of from the pulpit. :sad:
    They were sincere. But I am ever so glad to embrace as many traditions as I can now! So much fun, and joy! I don’t want my kids to ever feel as left out and joyless around the holidays as I felt.

  30. I am the original Ebineezer Grinch. Christmas for me has always been the most awfulest time of the year…(well, since 1977 anyway) and I have probably ruined it for my family as well over the years. (and to be honest when the twins were little there were times that I avoided having a Chernobyl Christmas)

    If I were to say what is in my heart regarding this “Holiday” it would cause the server for this sight to meltdown, and probably cause a worldwide computer virus that would cause every chip, every circuit board, every diode, electrode and electron that has ever been a part of anything which has ever had antything to do with the world wide web to spontaniously burst into the sub-atomic particles involved in their make up.

    The pre-spector Scrooge would recoil in horror at my loathsome disdain for this time of the year. In the IFB or out, my aversion and revulsion of this season has only grown in strength and depth, much like an infected, pustulous, emotional boil on the butt of my morbidly obese putrified soul.

    Enjoy the holiday… if you can!

    “Bah!” said Don Scrooge. “Humbug!”

    Darkness is cheap, and Don Scrooge liked it.

    “If I could work my will,” said Don Scrooge Don indignantly, “every idiot who goes about with ‘Merry Christmas’ on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart. He should!”

    1. you are not the only one…
      a good stiff drink (or two, or three) is useful when having to deal with gatherings of people this time of year. takes the edge off.

    2. That’s too bad. :sad: Did something tragic happen to you at Christmas or is it just not a good time for you? In any case I hope things get better. I can’t blame you completely for your disdain, there is something melancholy about the season that no amount of cheer and carols can remove.

      1. No, nothing tragic happened at Christmas. ’77 was the first Christmas after my dad dies so there’s that. No, I guess it was the year when the twins were still young and I was still putting toys together at 3:30 in the morning. We finished unwrapping at 9pm that evening. I looked around and swore, “Never Again!”

        The mayhem, the crass accumulation of stuff, I just snapped that evening. The sheer amount of “stuff” was overwhelming. I was not a fan of Christmas anyway and that one drove a stake in Santa’s heart as far as I was concerned.

        I looked around and realized how much I was caught up in the whole consumerist mentality. What I saw in myself and the way we were “doing” Christmas all for the sake of the children made me want to puke! So, “for the sake of my children,” I dialed Christmas back after that and cursed it for the commercial crap it is.

        Nowadays my total involvement in Christmas is putting the lights on the tree, taking pictures on Christmas morning and packing it all up for another year on or around January 1st. **This year I have put up with being dragged to a Christmas light festival where some person has gone bat guano crazy with light displays, and to the local Christmas parade (but only because my youngest daughter was in the parade with her Tae Kwon Do school). I have to admit I’m actually looking forward to going to see the “Nutcracker” ballet this year for the first time in 40 some odd years.

        On the whole I have written Christmas off as unredeemable. Dicken’s was a hopeful, romantic sot, and I have become a hopeless, unromantic cynic.

        1. Your disgust with the consumerist side of the Yuletide sounds reasonable enough to me; extreme only in that you’re not trying to live the complete Hallmark holiday ideal. Maybe you’re more on the right track than the rest of us, keeping focused on the real cause for Christmas.
          I will admit I enjoy those batshit overdone light exhibits. Hey, since you’re not the one in charge of this electric circus, might as well enjoy what the lunatic fringe comes up with.

        2. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve had Santa targeted for assassination for a number of years now. That a-hole keeps putting me on the naughty list and giving me coal, and I clearly am an ANGEL!

        3. Don, would the light festival be the one at Tanglewood Park? (I think you said you lived in the Triad…?)

          Our kids were never particularly toy-oriented — e.g., my older son always preferred the hammer he made out of a tree branch to the kiddie hammers we bought him in his little kiddie tool set; and my younger son just wanted Duplos, Duplos, and more Duplos. So, we never had to stay up till 3 a.m. putting toys together.

          Even to this day, it’s hard to get the kids to tell us what they want for Christmas…although older son did get an IPad for his birthday, and now I think younger son wants one.

  31. My extreme fundy church was surprisingly tolerant of the secular part, but if Christmas fell on a Sunday, you’d just better attend both church servies or be gossip fodder.

    My favorite program every year was Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol!

  32. I wasn’t a full-time Fundie; I just went to one of their schools. My Fundie Christmas memories were of practicing from November 1st until late December for the Christmas pageant (we spent Fridays rehearsing instead of gym.) I think all of the pageants were mediocre, but then we really didn’t have trained choir leaders or musicians guiding us.

    We had a Christmas party on the last day before the break and school got out early. Trick was, both my parents worked, so I spent hours in daycare fooling around. One year my mother made cookies for the party which nobody ate. They were sealed in foil and during the daycare I sat in this hole-in-the-wall office reading a book and occasionally eating a cookie. My father picked me up at the normal time, and I went off for a blissful fortnight away from those nuts. When I came back and entered that office (they let me use it for homework), there was the sealed plate of cookies, perfectly preserved.

  33. Well after reading these comments I wonder if I grew up in a fundy household after all. My dad was and still is the pastor of an IFB church. Our family always celebrated Christmas. At church there was no mention of Santa, but there was the children’s Christmas program, ( I got to play Mary one year)carols and a church wide Christmas party. If Christmas fell on Sunday we only had one service. Santa Clause came to our house (although if you asked my dad if Santa was real he would say it’s a game we play a Christmas.) We had a TV so I remember watching the usual Christmas cartoons and movies. After I was in high school we had a church member who did not believe in playing Santa but his kids still got gifts. Right now the Christmas Tree is up, the stocking are hung and I’m watching Miracle on 34th Street.

    1. All the fundamentalists I know here in the Winston-Salem area celebrate Christmas. Like you, I am finding some of these responses surprising. I guess there’s Fundy and then there’s Really Really Reallllly Fundy. I know only the former bunch. :)

  34. At our house we wear the official colors of Christmas year round…Crimson and White…Roll Tide and Merry Christmas to everyone!!

  35. We weren’t fundies, but we did absorb some “fundie by osmosis” for some reason. My parents were always big on Christmas, yet their conservative evangelical beliefs sometimes made things weird.

    1) We weren’t allowed to believe in Santa because our parents “didn’t want to lie to us”. Catholic and Mainline relatives were asked to refrain from discussing belief in Santa in front of us. In school, we weren’t allowed to color pictures of Santa or sing songs about him (and, contrary to popular fungelical urban legends about the way US public schools run, when our parents said we weren’t allowed to do something because of our religion, the school *always gave in immediately*). When we sang “Santa Clause is coming to town”, I had to go sit on the other side of the room. Now, not believing in Santa didn’t damage my childhood much, for example, I never had to go through the trauma of finding out it wasn’t real. I knew my parents bought the presents and I was fine with that. It’s the being forbidden to interact with things that referenced Santa that I’m embarrassed to remember now. This is one of the only places I could discuss that in full detail without feeling humiliated.

    2) Because, like many fundie leaning conservative evangelicals, we were teatotalers, I did not know eggnog is usually alcoholic until I was at least in college.

    3) I was that girl who always got to be Mary. One year, my Girl Scout troop also did a pageant (in some sort of showcase). I was passed over for Mary for a girl who, for reasons I still don’t understand, always competed with me over stupid, petty stuff. I was cast as a Shepherd, but my costume just happened to *also* be blue. We were told not to kneel, but I thought that looked stupid so, when the time came for us to enter the scene, I knelt anyway. So basically, it looked like the play had two Marys. I admit, I sort of did mean to ruin her big moment, but I didn’t realize *how* bad I came across, because They Hadn’t Been Doing It Right.

    4) My parents are turning into a pair of those Keep Christ in Christmas jerks.

    1. I know what you mean about item (4). My mother is a huge “keep Christ in Christmas” jerk. We once took her to the local candy store in our hometown run by a Jewish family. It is VERY EVIDENT that they are Jewish: menorahs and other Judaica everywhere, books about Jews and Jewish culture, brochures for the local synagogue, etc. After the proprietor rang her up, my mother looked him straight in the eye and said, “Merry CHRISTmas!!!”

      Afterwards I told her, that man is a Jew, and she acted like she had no idea. Then she said, “oh well, I can still say Merry Christmas if I want to.” My father-in-law heard the story and he said, “oh yeah, Merry Christmas and sorry for the Holocaust!”

      1. That last line………. :shock: :cry:
        I was first going to say that many Jews don’t make much fuss about hearing “Merry Christmas” tho it’s never wrong to be appropriate with “Happy Hannukkuh!”
        But then… :roll: oh boy, even Christ would be facepalming over that one.

        FWIW, no matter how you spell it, “Hannukkuh?” “Chanukah?” “Hannuka?” it never looks right.

      2. It’s- I mean, there’s nothing wrong with wanting Christ in Christmas but all the insistence that Christmas is a Christian holiday doesn’t change the fact that it’s not the only holiday going on at that time. And not everyone has the time and energy to figure out what you believe before extending a seasonal greeting.

        1. That is precisely why it is coming to be considered a matter of good manners to say “Happy Holidays” when you are unsure of how someone will feel about CHRISTmas. That is the real reason for the whole “Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas” thing. There is no War on Christmas, as such, nor will there be as long as Christmas remains such a cornerstone of our consumer-driven economy.

        2. I so agree with both of you. Poor manners never helped the cause of Christ. I sayHappy Holidays and merry Christmas according to whom I am speaking. I have not deminishrd Christ in doing so. Oh and On another note yesterday we revived our Christmas card from my hay brother in law and his husband. It said Merry Christmas in large letters on the front of the card. :grin:

  36. I grew up not even really knowing that Santa Clause was called Santa Clause. He was so frequently referred to as the “Glory-Robber” (cause he steals the glory of Christmas from Jesus or something) that whenever my siblings see Santa at a mall, they get all excited and start yelling, “Hey look! There’s the Glory Robber!” Up till I was 12 or 13 , if you’d asked I probably would have called him the Glory Robber and actually thought that was his real name! :shock: :roll:

  37. I attended a fundie school that celebrated Christmas, but frowned on Christmas trees and Santa Claus. We couldn’t even wrap exchange gifts in Santa paper, if I remember right. The 6th graders had a big Christmas program each year. We moved across the country after I finished 6th grade, and I heard that they scrapped all things Christmas a year or two later. Sad.

    I haven’t told my kids that Santa is real, but I tell them that he’s based on the real person St. Nick who gave gifts to kids and loved Jesus. We don’t frown on Santa or Rudolph. We eagerly include them as part of the fun side of Christmas. I love almost all Christmas music (except Feliz Navidad). My kids love decorating our Christmas tree AND playing with our nativity sets.

    1. I love Feliz Navidad! Then again, I live in the Tucson area, so if I didn’t like it, I probably would go totally bonkers by Chistmas because I hear it so much… :wink:

  38. Christmas was always a wonderful time in my IFB church (except the Christmas programs. I hated those, because I always had a huge speaking part). We went all-out. The music and food and time with friends/family was wonderful! And we lived near the Moravian settlements near Allentown, PA, so we got to see some beautifully-decorated old buildings, or take the train to Philly to visit Wanamaker’s store with its magnificent pipe organ and fantastic decorations. This region of PA used the European stars (spikes sticking out in all directions, with a light inside) and they would line all streets and sidewalks with candles in paper bags.

    Now, living in Germany, I can take my kids to the Alsace region of France, where many of our traditions originated. I can show them the documents, dating to 1500, that include the first references to (and rules for) Christmas trees. It was the Christians (Catholics, almost certainly) who started using live trees as a replacement for the pagan tradition of cutting boughs from a tree. And the Christmas baubles date back to a year in which a severe drought prevented anyone from using real fruit to decorate the tree, so a local glassmaker started blowing glass ornaments to look like fruit. And Selestat, where these documents are kept, is supposed to be where they started putting candles on the trees, too.

    The Christmas markets are a wonderful time here, too. And I hope my kids enjoy having the Christmas story read to them from the KJV…

    AFTER they open their gifts and eat their breakfast!

  39. My favorite Fundy Christmas was when the inevitable nativity play at church was staged mostly with children … when they got to the part where the shepherds came to visit baby Jesus, Joseph was supposed to hand him to the shepherds so they could see Him, I guess, but you could tell the kid playing Joseph didn’t ever see babies or dolls. He grabbed baby Jesus from Mary headfirst (yes the baby was a doll!) and handed him to the shepherd.

    Then the toddler Jesus, who was played by a real toddler in our church, kicked the fancy hats off of the wise men – pow, pow, pow. It was hilArious. :)

  40. I grew up in a fundy household, but we always had Christmas: Tree, Santa Claus visits and wrapped gifts, decorations, etc.
    Now as an adult I don’t really get into it. Once I realized that God has His appointed times that I should be celebrating, I now focus on those. Most Christians say they want to ‘be like Jesus” Well most of them wouldn’t celebrate the Festival of Light (Hannukah) like Jesus did (John 10:22).

    1. I’m glad you are free to choose the holidays you wish to celebrate.

      I am bothered however by your use of the word “should.” Romans 14 is clear on issues like what days to celebrate: “One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. . . Each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.”

      Also when we say we want to be like Jesus, we mean in loving God and loving others, in showing love, joy, peace, and all the other fruit of the Spirit. We do not feel obligated to wear robes or sandals or to necessarily follow the Jewish celebrations which He did.

      So please enjoy Hannukah, Rosh Hashanah, Sukkot, and any other holidays you desire to or feel obligated to! You are free in Christ to do that with joy. But be careful to not lay obligations on other Christians as to which celebrations they “must” observe in order to be MORE holy. That is replacing grace with legalism.

      1. Dear Pastor’s Wife:
        I don’t believe that the scripture you referenced Romans 14 about which day is esteemed refers to God’s Appointed Times. It is about fasting and the pressure they were being put under to fast on certain days and to keep vegetarian diets. I am not replacing grace with legalism. Following God’s ways is never legalism. Following men’s ways are. That is the point of this website. We were involved in man-made laws and traditions. In my comments I did used the words “I should”. I never said – You Should.
        Unfortunately God’s Holy Days have been misrepresented. They are not “Jewish celebrations” They are God’s Appointed Times. Jesus fulfilled the first 3 and will fulfill the Fall Feast. We can find over and over in the NT where the writers still observed these after the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. They never went away, but they were sadly replaced with more man-made traditions that don’t seem to have much Biblical basis.
        Enjoy your Christmas. I’m not telling you that you or anyone should give it up. I’m just saying for me that it doesn’t seem as relevant as it used to in my life. My point was that most will do Christmas, but we have a Biblical example of Jesus acknowledging Hannukah, but most Christians won’t.

      2. I want to clarify that I am not saying that Hannukah is one of God’s Appointed Times/Feast. I know it is not. It is special in many aspects, the 8 miracle days of the oil in the menorah. But also with Jesus more than likely being born during Sukkot, if you back up 9 months. Jesus was probably conceived during Hannukah. The angel may have visited Mary on the first day. He is the Light of the World. :smile:

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