Christmas, The Non-Christian Missionary Child...and Christmas
By @meriahnichols on December 16, 2011
My feelings about Christmas seem to be similar to a juvenile crush that wasn't interested in you when you were interested in him (or her); then when you've lost interest, they come a'courtin'.
I cared a lot, terribly, passionately at one point. I wanted to be and do what was "normal", mainstream by mainstream-American standards.
We'd come back to California from Fiji, the missionary family who weren't Christians - "what are you, Bah - whaaat? Ba-HAI? HUH??" traipsing from the Sunny South Pacific, before you know, Fiji was on water bottles and all cool and stuff - when it was "FUJI??? You live in FUJI???", "Isn't that in Japan or something?"
I'll tell you this: it's very awkward being a missionary child. It's awkward being a child, point blank, but it's really awkward being a missionary child. A non-Christian, BAHA'I missionary child. Now add on deaf and big coke-bottle glasses and scars and freckles and you're really talking!
But I digress.
Back to Christmas.
We'd come back and go to my uncle's house and my three cousins were big and handsome and in the know. My brother and I were not. My uncle was successful and had a big house and kitchen gadgetry that worked. We were not and had not. My Dad liked to play up the education aspect, that somehow having lots of degrees made up for having no money (? does it? I still don't see the logic). We'd somehow never get the memo about what to bring/wear/do/gift and I inevitably felt like, well, what I actually was: the poor cousin in from exotica.
With non-family, there was the fantastic bit about 'celebrating' Christmas:
"so you don't celebrate Christmas?"
"you are not Christian?!"
- um, no, but I believe in Christ
"how can you believe in Christ and not be a Christian?"
- because I'm a Baha'i
- "BA-whaaaaaaat? HUH?"
*seizing the moment, as all good missionary children know to do, this is a TEACHING MOMENT*
- Baha'i - you know, we believe in progressive revelation!
*seizing the moment again, YES! SCORE! A chance to talk about progressive revelation!*
- Progressive revelation! Where God sends different messengers at different times throughout the ages to uplift the standard of humanity! Progressive, like school: first came Adam, then Abraham, Zoroaster, Buddha, Moses, Christ, Mohammad and the Bab and Baha'u'llah - each bringing their own religion that builds on the teachings of the last with a universal message of love that never changes!
"um. Yeah. Okay. So you don't celebrate Christmas?
- we can if we want because we believe in Christ, but we know it's not really the birth of Christ, it's arbitrary date affixed to approximate time of the winter solstice as a ploy to convert early pagans
....BIG SILENCE - Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too much information for the average 13-year old. Waaaaaaay not fun and smacking on the sacrilegious.
"um. Right. So you don't celebrate Christmas."
- no, not really.
I thought I was getting things figured out last year, deciding we'd celebrate the solstice, have a tree and play with what we wanted with the Christmas shebang-a-boo. But then this year came around and I found that I don't care.
To be more honest than I probably need to, I don't know how much of it stems from not having extra dollars to buy stuff do do the shabang-a-boo, or not having much time to coordinate it all and get it together (because trust me - no one is going to get this horse trotting if it's not me) and how much of it is just...well, not having a lot of rad-tatistic memories associated with it that impel me to re-create it for my own clan. Or a combination?
At any rate, Mikey and I were going our limpid ways about it and really, just looking forward to Baja (TWO WEEKS!!) when our small son starts spouting tree talk, like, "when are we getting one?" and is stating things to us like "we need milk and cookies for Santa because of Santa comes and gives kids TOYS and because of Santa is hungry and needs cookies."
I have no idea where he is getting this from, but getting it, he is. I'm left with wondering what to do. I don't want him feeling left out, like I did. I don't want to buy into rampant commercialization - but presents are fun! I don't want to "celebrate" the birth of Jesus if we aren't celebrating all of the births, Zoroaster included (shouldn't the Prophet who introduced the concept of "Satan" be honored, after all? Especially in the context of Christmas, seeing as "Satan" is so important to so many Christians?).
There has to be a middle place, an inclusive piece of ground that has low rent and is accessible.
Do you know where that is?
Cute kid pics: you deserve some after all that.
She sure is cute, isn't she!
Yes, you! Oh, wait, I"m not supposed to say that about my own kid, am I? Well, maybe I'll chuck that rule because there's just no denying it.
Note to self: even though it's easiest to take pictures of the kids sitting down (= locked in), I need some without food. Maybe I'll try something posed? With a Santa hat?! And milk and cookies?!
Ho, ho, ho.
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