Yep, still typing

This year marks the 12th Christmas we have not celebrated. We talked about it. We thought about it. We determined it was not providing us with the purported joy. We agreed. We decided. We quit. We told the people we felt we needed to.

Our daughter is 11. She grew up not celebrating. While the concept of a child, and what I would teach them, was part of the decision, as a person she has been one of the difficult aspects of it. The feeling of being different, of not being normal, can be hard on a child. People like to poke at differences. They want to know why. They want the difference explained and defended, or *fixed*. They think they have the right to that.

One December when she was 5 we went to get her picture taken at some crappy in store photo place. She was cute when she was 5 though, so any photos would do and the cheaper was much better for the wallet. A few reasonable sized photos, plus 200 little useless throw away ones so they could advertise a large bundle, for $4.99. It’s a long way from art, but it made my grandmother happy. The button pushing salesmonkey asked her what she was doing for Christmas and she shrugged and responded that we didn’t celebrate Christmas. Salesmonkey freaked out. “What do you mean?! What do you do?!” Salesmonkey stares at me wondering why my child is retarded and lying, “You do celebrate Christmas, don’t you? Why is she saying that?!” I shook my head. “Why not?!!!” Salesmonkey wailed. The kid was traumatized.

A few weeks later, in January, we were at our favorite (at the time) sushi place. One of the chefs asked her what she had gotten for Christmas and she froze up. She did not want a repeat of the last scene. He asked again. She looked at me. He looked at me. Her behavior was quite odd. She was always extremely friendly with this chef and now it looked like she didn’t know how to speak. “We don’t celebrate Christmas,” I told him. He looked at her and smiled warmly, “Neither do I.” She beamed.

One of the things that catches attention from certain people about not celebrating is the “not Christian” aspect. Most of the Christians we run into are used to being in the comfortable majority in the country. They’ve heard of the other big religions, but we don’t *look* (Muslim, Jewish, or one of them there “eastern religions”). This means we might be something else, something worse. I’m already long comfortable with the fact that in pretty much every aspect of my life, I am something worse, but this is another area that is harder on the kid.

Like with most things, we couldn’t leave well enough alone, and we chose to homeschool. Now, most things about homeschooling are really wonderful, and we have some terrific friends who homeschool. However, there is a rather large sized portion of the homeschooling community who are not just “I was raised Christian, so I mark the Christian box” but are instead fervently Christian. We interact with these people at group events, classes, field trips, sports days and more. “What church do you go to?” is commonly asked within the first 5 sentences by many of these people. Now I cannot begin to give a rat’s ass about somebody who doesn’t want to talk to me anymore because I don’t go to church, I mean, really I am grateful if they are going to weed me out for that reason. Still a kid likes to have friends, and more than that. A kid does not like to be teased and bullied. Ever seen a 10 year old, and more than a foot taller, boy get physical with a 7 year old girl because when he asked if she believed in Jesus, she gave “In my family religion is personal and we don’t talk about it outside the home.”as her response? Well, I have.

Over the years we’ve learned little tricks. Stick her in a Harry Potter t-shirt when going to an event with a new group. It keeps a certain element from even starting to interact with her. Avoid events from Thanksgiving through mid January. I don’t enjoy being out and about then anyway. We won’t lie, but why invite trouble, when it always shows up of its own accord. Yet here I am writing it out on LJ and posting it public. I asked her. None of those kids should be reading my posts anyway, but somebody might. Does she care? She said to post. At 11 she is obviously a lot more immune to the reactions on this subject than she was at 5.

Things I have been called (not in jest) because I do not celebrate Christmas have included:

  • Grinch
  • Scrooge
  • smart
  • lucky
  • heathen
  • crazy
  • child abuser

Yes, I’ve been told it is child abuse to not have her celebrate Christmas. Some people have cried actual tears upon hearing that we don’t celebrate.

One relative lets their kids think we are Jewish so they don’t have to explain something else.

My MIL quit giving us birthday gifts. Oh wait. She didn’t quit. She has become chronically late with them. She sends us gifts at Christmas, wrapped in Christmas paper and writes Happy Birthday on the cards. In case you are wondering, our birthdays are in July.

Mainly people want to know what we DO instead. We don’t do anything specific. We are glad to have a day when people don’t tend to call, and we often accomplish stuff around the house and catch up on to do list stuff. The only thing that makes it different from other days is the fact that other people are busy celebrating it. If we eat out, we don’t have many options, but we’ve learned that we can usually find a Chinese restaurant open.

Holiday Songs
No Thanks

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