To Observe Christmas Traditions, or Not? That Is the Question …

Hi Craig, your timing is perfect as I’ve been mulling over an issue that’s coming at me fast. I have Christmas traditions that are important to me and that my husband and two grown children agree with and participate in. I however have grandchildren who do not share my beliefs and who have posted on Facebook etc various Memes etc. that give me reason to believe that following these traditions may cause a ruckus Christmas Day. These are minors except 1 who while not a believer is accepting of what They call the your house your rules way of dealing with differences. Do I give up my traditions to keep children happy? I am talking about Christmas Music – mostly Religious, reading the Christmas Story, Lighting the Jesus Advent Candle and things of that nature. Help!”

Progressive people of faith walk a fine line. On one hand, we want to be respectful of other people’s beliefs and practices. On the other hand, we don’t want to be so respectful that, in the process, we become completely invisible to others.

So how do we walk the fine line?

There are many ways to approach the situation. Here is what I would do. I would let all my family members know what traditions I am observing and at approximately what time. Those who want to participate in my traditions – or support me in the observance of those traditions – are welcome to come. Those who do not want to participate in the observance of the traditions – or can’t extend the dignity and respect toward myself and my traditions – are welcome to come either before or after those times.

I’ve used that approach many times – in a variety of situations – and had great success. It’s a way of both acknowledging and honoring the beliefs of others while still acknowledging and honoring YOUR beliefs. You should NOT make yourself invisible – and completely miss out on those things that you hold nearest and dearest to your heart – simply due to worries about others. To do so would be incredibly codependent.

How about you? What issue(s) or insights does Cheri’s question raise for you?

About Pastor Craig

I'm a 54-year-old who lives in Los Angeles, CA with his black Labrador Retriever named Max. I'm an ordained clergy person in the United Church of Christ. My passions include spirituality, politics, and sports (Go Houston teams, go!). I use my blog to start conversations rather than merely spout my perspectives and opinions. I hope you'll post a question, comment, or observation for me to respond - so we can get the conversation started!
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4 Responses to To Observe Christmas Traditions, or Not? That Is the Question …

  1. Cheri Moore says:

    That was my instinctive reaction. As they are governed in their visiting time(s) by their father’s visits- remember except one they are under 18 – and he wants to participate in what are for him too meaningful traditions I think this particular situation gets a little sticker!?

  2. sandi says:

    amen, craig!

  3. Beverly Marshall Saling says:

    I am an atheist raised by Christian parents who were always respectful of my choices about which traditions I wanted to continue participating in and which I didn’t, and asked that I respect their choices in kind (which I did). The grace with which they did this even though I knew it was deeply disappointing to them that I didn’t want to keep doing all the things we used to do together taught me a lot about “holding space” for other people. They simply made room in their home for me to go off and do my own thing whenever they were doing something I didn’t want to participate in, and then we could all spend time together the rest of the time.

    Another thing that helped in my family was to come up with some new traditions that everyone could enjoy together, so that we weren’t losing “family time” by doing some things separately. It’s all about setting and enforcing the expectation that your home is a safe place for everyone—including you—to do the things that make Christmas special to you, to not be forced to do anything you’re uncomfortable with, and to create an atmosphere of goodwill and good cheer that embraces everyone as they are.

  4. Stevie says:

    Craig’s answer is spot on. As much as I love my family, my house is my sacred space. I would let my family know the nature of my celebration, and let them choose.
    My family is of varied beliefs. We enjoy the beauty of my daughter’s beliefs in her home and she does the same in mine.

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