Last week was the first Sunday of Advent
Our family loves to have candles at Christmastime. I invited my husband, daughter and grandson to celebrate the advent with me, lighting candles and having a short devotional. They were happy to participate.
“Which one of us is going to break it to her?”
After lighting the candle, I read the devotional and asked them the question – how did what we just read help you to understand Christ’s mission? My daughter and husband looked at each other and then at me. They both have a great sense of humor and my daughter said to her Dad, “Which one of us is going to break it to her?” “Mom, none of us believe any of that”.
“Oh, yes, right of course.” We all laughed with each other, and my husband asked me the question and I answered it.
This is what it looks like in our mixed faith family at Christmas time.
My daughter and husband weren’t offended that I had asked them a question about their faith. My grandson got to light and blow out the candles, and I didn’t take it personally that they only want to participate in pieces of the Christmas celebration.
We all enjoyed our time together and felt peace together as we enjoyed the parts of a Christmas tradition that means different things to different family members.
It Can Be Hard To Let Go Of Family Traditions
It hasn’t always been like this. When members of my family stepped away from the church, I didn’t want to let go of years and years of family tradition. I thought there was a “right way” to celebrate the birth of Christ and I didn’t want to give up Christmas Eve nativities, finding ways to serve each other and others, reading scripture together and attending church Christmas functions together. I thought that they “owed” it to me to stick with our family traditions.
Each Of Us Has Our Own Journey
Letting each other follow their own journey and celebrate privately or as a family is a concept that we had to work on together. It hasn’t been an easy transition, but differentiation is important for all of us to learn. Sometimes Mothers (or fathers) think that our identity is wrapped up in our children’s stories. We feel that if they reject our values that they are rejecting us.
I thought that members of my family weren’t doing their lives the right way and I felt compelled to help them understand that my way was the right way. It didn’t go very well. People really hate having other people tell them how they ‘should’ be living their lives. I didn’t much like everyone avoiding me because I was preaching at them either.
Developing New Christmas Practices
When we started just letting everyone take care of what they needed from our family celebration, our Christmas’ became better for everyone, especially me. I stopped taking on the role of Christmas magician and stopped being responsible for everyone else’s Christmas and started making sure that I had the spiritual parts of Christmas that I wanted to enjoy, either by myself or with others who wanted to be a part of what I was doing. There were lots of false starts and do overs and sometimes there still are, that’s where we have found that having a sense of humor helps us be together for holidays that we don’t all celebrate the same way.
Over the next few weeks, I am going to share other ways I learned to integrate all the different beliefs of different members of my family. It came down to love – and that’s what the season is all about, isn’t it?