Friday, December 21, 2012

My Christmas experience

Let me give the disclaimer/warning: You may or may not agree with me as I talk about what is controversial to some people. But you don't have to agree with me; it's a free country and OCD doesn't rule. So have a Merry weekend, whatever kind you choose to have. And if you want to skip this blog post, that's fine, too. :)

My mom got pretty upset as a child trying to figure out how to celebrate Christmas in a way that served Jesus. So she and my dad and some others decided to celebrate it differently when I was little. They had a birthday party and we made a gift for people in need or did some service project, to be our "present" for Jesus. And as a kid, birthday parties are fun, but when you reach your teens, it isn't the same. And when the friends who used to celebrate the birthday party with you leave... and then when my church fell apart, part of it during Christmas time... And then Christmas was a painful thing for me.

But I still had to deal with the Christmas carols, because people at church are determined to sing them. And when I was helping with music at church, I got to play them. And I still remember a fellow musician telling me to "get over it; make new memories." Thus, "make new memories" became the nice way to say "get over it" in my mind, and I tried to keep part of my sadness under wraps at Christmas time.

And my parents tried to figure out how to adapt the birthday party thing for teenagers.

Then we started helping with community dinners on Christmas day. I.e., put on festive hats, walk in a crowded room amongst Christmas music and decorations, and for me (remember the OCD), well, there was the part about trying to have a right heart, because what good is a gift for Jesus without the right heart...

And then I moved out, and then finally, I rebelled.

But actually, it seems that having your teenaged rebellion when you are in your twenties and don't live in your parents house, it is no longer considered a rebellion. But you know OCD; it sometimes takes a different view on technical matters. Okay, maybe I should leave OCD out of this part. But I feel rebellious when I make my own traditions, even though it is fine with my parents for me to be an adult and make my own choices.

I decided to fall off the other side of the bridge. Because for me, Christmas time had come to be associated with being an outcast. Being "different" from the rest of the world. And I suppose that Christians have the privilege of being outcasts when they do things trying to serve God that people around them disapprove of.

And I didn't like the whole "Jesus' birthday" thing, because it seemed too much a semantics game.

So I guess I played my own game. Forget the roots of the word Christmas; let's go back in time to my vaguely and perhaps inaccurately remembered world history knowledge.

Like that it used to be a pagan holiday, but when the "Church" came along, it Christianized things, putting remembrance of Jesus' birthday at the time of the pagan holiday. The tree? Pagan roots (not positive, but I think it's true).

So, I guess I forgot the pagan part, and decided it to celebrate "Christmas" as a secular holiday. Very freeing. I didn't have to worry about being spiritual enough. I could just celebrate a holiday. Granted, it might not be with family, but it could be fun, associated with being in the party, in the brightly lit room, not being an outcast looking in. So for one or two years, I've gone to a movie on Christmas. At least once with a sister. Maybe only once.

And this year, I even got a stocking! Which, by the way, I have indeed started opening, but I haven't finished. I opened my relatives' additions (i.e. small Christmas gifts) when I was feeling down earlier. And today, with the end of work for the long weekend holiday, I opened the mystery Playmobile toys (I loved Playmobile as a kid and still do). One is a swimmer in a towel with a blow drier and a hairbrush. The other is some weird person I still haven't figured out. She looks like a combination of a dancer, a swimmer, a rock star, and a super hero. I guess there's lots of room for imagination there? It probably is something recognizable that I just don't know of, though.

This year, I've determined to enjoy the holiday. I don't want to miss out any more. Though I'll probably miss out on my Christmas afternoon movie, since my family decided to celebrate their family holiday (including gifts, but not Christmas) on the day that happens to be Christmas, for logistical reasons, since they can get most of my siblings together that day. I sing Christmas carols and Santa songs. I enjoy the lights, and my Christmas tree. I have nativity scene window stickers up in my classroom at work in one window, and Santa and other secular Christmasy and wintery stickers in other windows and on a mirror. And I'll celebrate my family's holiday that "isn't Christmas" on Christmas day. I'll play semantic games and perhaps be a bit materialistic as I enjoy "things" in my stocking. I know that if the OCD monster woke up with it's former ferver and energy and deceiving ability, this would qualify as potentially sinful on many points.

But hey, OCD doesn't run my life any more. So at the risk of being sinful (because, sorry people, doing ANYTHING or NOT DOING ANYTHING, I am stuck risking being sinful), I'm enjoying this Christmas. Around dealing with normal life, anxiety, and it's shadow, depression. But I'm not living Christmas as an OCD minion.


  1. LOL I'm so glad that you're not living Christmas as an OCD minion!

    You are right with OCD; it sometimes takes a different view on technical matters. And just as a side note... all my teenage rebellions came in my 20s too.

    I have friends who grew up doing a Jesus birthday celebration instead of Christmas but they still had the tree.

    You are right, the tree is pagan. As are the lights etc. Christmas is a perfect melding of secular and religious... it's all so mixed up.

    Thank you for sharing your story; I enjoyed reading it!

  2. Abigail, I enjoyed your post. And I'm glad you're enjoying Christmas. Each of us has to find our own way to celebrate--or not celebrate--whatever holidays we choose.

  3. I hope you do enjoy Christmas, Abigail. And I'm glad you are not going to allow OCD to ruin it for you!

  4. Wow! I must say, but very interesting insight on this Chirstmas holiday. Just this year I learned how the Christian community way back when decided to make Christmas on a day that the pagans celebrated a holiday of their own (not sure which one) but it was an act of the Christians to hopefully out rule the influence of the pagans. In fact the historical date that matches better on the day of Jesus' actual birth isn't in the wintery month of December- it's celebrated on 12/25 because of the 'switch' the Christian Community.

    I think it is neat to see a movie on Chirstmas Day! Sometimes there are pretty magical films that come out at this time of the year and it is so much better to see them on the big screen. *Glad to read that OCD was NOT in your way this Christmas:)

    God bless you and may this upcoming year be truly a HAPPY year for us all!