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Christmas in Spring

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What kind of influence should my husband’s conservative religious family have in our household and traditions? I am agnostic and my husband (yay!) is now an atheist. He was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness within his conservative family and followed the doctrine until his early twenties. He was never baptized therefore his subsequent break of faith didn’t mar ties to his family too much and we both enjoy a great connection with his of-faith parents, siblings and extended family. Although he is now a staunch non believer he has what I can only describe as “residual ideas” about not celebrating or acknowledging birthdays and Christmas. I don’t think he cares about Christmas or birthdays either way but wants to keep the peace with his family.

We went back and forth over the holiday debate for a couple years and it always bugged me that I wasn’t able to have a Christmas tree or do the sappy Christmas festivities that I LOVE. I am not from such a close knit family myself and the holidays are pretty much some of the happiest memories I have. Also, no one ever gave a damn about my birthdays coming up so I always looked forward to treating my kids to things like that. I’d usually concede on the Christmas and birthday front with my husband because our son was too young to appreciate any of the hoopla so I didn’t press it. I’d compromise by keeping Christmas out of the house; lots of driving around to see the neighbor’s Christmas lights from the car. Now that the kid is getting closer to holiday appreciation age it’s rather important to me that I am able to create traditions in my home.

So! After persistent nagging, my partner finally agreed to have a Christmas tree and celebrations, which completely rocked my world. Though it came with a caveat: if any of his family happens to visit during the holiday season then no Christmas. Period. Even posting photos of Christmas related things are “prohibited” because his family might see them. I think this is unfair. I completely understand his desire to not offend his family and I certainly don’t want to either. However, I can’t help but feel that if they are SO offended by holidays and celebrations then...they simply don’t have to come? I know that his family take these matter very seriously, for example, they’ve ask dates to be rearranged to make them feel more comfortable dining with family ensuring it doesn’t fall on Christmas Day. I also know they wouldn’t dream of celebrating Christmas or birthdays even in a passive way, and I respect that, but I do not share their faith or views. I would never imagine coming to their homes and insist that they accommodate my preferences because I’m uncomfortable and it feels equally bizarre for them to expect the same.
There isn’t too much chance that any of this could happen without notice because his entire family resides internationally, but knowing that I’m expected to be tolerant and censored doesn’t sit well with me.

This isn’t a matter of love, because without a doubt we’re very close to his family but navigating through difference of religions can be difficult. If I am in fact being too hard up, I’m willing to compromise. I’d like to know what those options are and how to get an authentic experience out of it myself.


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