Saturday 29th January 2011

by admin

Okay… so in looking back I have realized something disturbing… I have not blogged about what I said I was going to blog about!  There hasn’t been any real sharing about the challenges in my spiritual transformation, no drama, not much vomiting really.  So it’s time to get serious, let go of the fear (more on this later).

So here is something semi juicy or at least something that could cause major havoc if it all comes out:

I celebrated CHRISTMAS for the first time EVER!  I know it doesn’t sound like a big deal.  I mean what’s the big whoop.  Just about everybody in North America that grew up even somewhat Christian celebrates Christmas.  For GODS-SAKE  even Atheists celebrate Christmas!  Well not if you grew up in my religion.  A person is considered apostate if you are even remotely associated with celebrating it.  It is absolute blasphemy and completely forbidden!  It is an absolute kicking out offense meaning anyone who is part of the religious organization is not allowed to talk to you… ever… not even to greet you or acknowledge you… no one … not even your own mother or father!  Unfortunately, my whole family, at least the ones that we were close too (this is due to the fact that our religion discourages close association with non-members even family members), are all part of the organization.  All the close friends I’ve ever had are or have been part of the organization- except for one friend and, believe it or not, my really, really awesome current husband.  I say current because, due to the fact you “shouldn’t” marry outside the religion, I married twice before within this faith.

To be honest, I have partaken in a bit of festivities since my husband’s family is not part of this organization.  In fact it was one of the few things he asked of me when we married … that I go with him to his parent’s during Christmas.  The first few years I would go with my now 14 yr old in tow, whom I was determined to raise in the faith.  My in-laws would be so respectful and kind.  They wouldn’t go without getting him a gift but would always wrap it in non-holiday paper.  What’s funny is that my husband’s family is so non-festive, like no singing or wacky traditions.  So if it wasn’t for the Christmas tree, wrapped presents, and the occasional “Merry Christmas” said among themselves you couldn’t even tell there were Christmas celebrations going on.  It was just everybody hanging out and eating.  So after a couple of years I didn’t feel so guilty and awkward or leaving the room when they gathered around the tree to open presents.  Then I even started helping my dear husband pick out presents but we would again use non-holiday gift wrap.  Who was I kidding?!  I was part of it… I was celebrating!  It was just these little things I would do to not be fully participating to soothe my guilty conscience and make it somewhat safe and less blasphemous.

The really bad part though was that I was constantly afraid.  When my shopping  cart would be full of toys and non-holiday wrapping paper I was terrified of running into one of the church members during the holidays.  I could just see it, they would see me at the store and give me a nice warm greeting and huge hug and then their eyes would drift down to the cart as their expression would change to confusion and then the questions would start… So who are you shopping for? Doing some “Christmas” shopping *insert uncomfortable laugh*?… which would be followed by my look of terror and own uncomfortable laughter and then the lying my ass off would start.  It never happened, thankfully, but I was constantly stretching the truth with my family about what we were up to during the holiday season.

Since we moved this past year to a different city where I haven’t made contact with another congregation I didn’t have to look over my shoulder as much as I stacked the toys up high in my cart and had official holiday wrapping paper, including Christmas cards.  I bought holiday themed pajamas for my DH and two boys and tried to start some of our own traditions.  I even let my DH hang up one strand of Christmas lights around one of our apartment windows.  No tree though.  I wouldn’t of minded doing more decorating with tree and lights but I was afraid of the possibility of my family or a friend randomly coming in from out of town and catching us in the the act with mayhem ensuing.  One strand of lights, easy, fast tear-down in a pinch.

So yes, I officially celebrated the big “C” amidst the fear and my own internal conflict still, maneuvering through what I was willing to do or how far I was willing to go.  It was scary and confusing and fun and exhilarating… and sad because it is soo hard to let go of everything I knew even if it doesn’t serve me anymore.

"self portrait with Christmas lights" by Ryan Schultz 2008

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