Merry Christmas from NLQ!
For many of us here our traditions and doings around the holidays have changed since we’re left behind all that is quiverfull or whatever brand of fundamentalism you were enmeshed with. Sometimes you must tweak what you do to keep from triggering bad memories and emotions of holidays past.
There are things I used to do and believe that I’d put aside mostly since leaving my old faith. Some of those haven’t held up well to the new dynamics of my life. They’ve suffered a sea change.
I have been considering the great shifts in my ways and thoughts since leaving Possum Creek Church. The weeks of busy, since I was usually put in charge of decorating the church for the season. I think they used to call people that did that, changed out the altar cloths plus readied the church for holiday services sacristans. One of the few times I actually had an opportunity to put into use my major at college. I had studied art so the differing liturgical season brought different needs to reflect different aspects of what we perceived was the nature of God. Purple silks and flowers for Easter, potted palms and cut palm fronds for Palm Sunday to times when the altar was dressed simply with silk runners and carefully assembled plant arrangements without any holiday. The sacred and the ordinary. But Christmas being something like the Super Bowl of religious holidays it was over the top and time consuming.
Add in the pressures of being a good submitting Christian wife, baking a zillion cookies, attending this or that connected to the church, the outreaches and ministries plus the expectations of family. I always found the relentless rounds of ‘must dos’ exhausted me to the point where by New Years Eve I was ready for bed by about 8 pm and felt like I’d been run over by a reindeer.
The changes now are that I do only what I feel like genuinely doing for others and don’t worry about the rest of it. Sometimes I barely decorate for the holidays, sometimes I do, it just depends. I bake, I don’t bake, whatever. It is a very small fraction for what I used to do and that’s okay by me. It doesn’t make holidays any less special.
The biggest change for me personally is that I look at the Christmas story completely differently now. Instead of sweet sentimentality or unquestioning adoration of the Christ child I’m seized by questions and practicality. I look at Mary, and I think about how horrible it would be to be forced to ride a stinky donkey or be pulled along on that long trip in a donkey cart while pregnant. I think about the fact that when you’re close to your due date you have to pee every half hour and how no position is comfortable. I think of the misery of being full term pregnant as a teenager riding that donkey only to end up with your new husband playing mid wife in a stable or cave, in dirty straw while animals farted, made racket and defecated nearby while you were laboring. I feel like smacking Joseph in the head for not making a reservation at the local Biblical Holiday Inn.
Then I ask myself if this is the best that God could do to send His son to the world? Seems pretty strange way to send Him into this world to me. I can no longer accept that every word of the Bible came right straight from the hand of God. I see a historical document that may be divinely inspired that doesn’t always make sense at all.
I don’t get it any longer. I guess the Koolaid has finally cleared my brain enough now that the Bible and our traditions gives me pause to think instead of accepting everything I’m told by the pastor.
How has your own personal journey out caused you to view the holiday season and changed or challenged you? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.
However you celebrate and whatever holiday you celebrate I hope that you’re surrounded by the people that love you and the flame of love burns strong within you, that you feel blessed by love.
Comments open below
Calulu lives near Washington DC , was raised Catholic in South Louisiana before falling in with a bunch of fallen Catholics whom had formed their own part Fundamentalist, part Evangelical church. After fifteen uncomfortable years drinking that Koolaid she left nearly 6 years ago. Her blog is Calulu – Roadkill on the Internet Superhighway
NLQ Recommended Reading …
‘Breaking Their Will: Shedding Light on Religious Child Maltreatment‘ by Janet Heimlich
‘Quivering Daughters‘ by Hillary McFarland
‘Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement‘ by Kathryn Joyce