Last week, my post fell on Christmas Eve, but I didn’t end up mentioning Christmas at all. That’s because for me, Christmas was far from over. I spent about a week at my sister’s and her pastor husband’s house with all my sisters and brothers-in-law and my mom. As you probably already know, Christmas, Easter, and everything else in the world, is all about Jesus for them. Let me tell you all about it….Sunday (Christmas Eve)
10:00 a.m. – Our first over-an-hour-long church service. Staying in the parsonage (the pastor’s house) means the church is within walking distance. So this was the first of many times walking back and forth…through the snow. To church. With a toddler. On a holiday.
4:30 p.m. – Our family is annoyed that there’s some random person who goes to our church but isn’t an LCMS member. And they dared to take communion! In our family, being a Christian isn’t enough–you mustbe LCMS!
4:40 p.m. – My mom complains about a family member who focuses her energy on bodybuilding and not on religion.
7:30 p.m. – Church service number two. My mom reprimands me for not singing and chanting out loud with the congregation. I say I don’t really like to sing and chant and she says it gives the words more meaning than just following along in my head. Also, one of the readings was Luke 2:1-20 (an account of Jesus’ birth) but Luke 20:1-20 was printed instead…. a parable about beating servants.
10:30 p.m. – The third church service of the day. At the identical evening services, they performed “O Holy Night” which I actually think is really pretty.
Monday (Christmas Day)
10:00 a.m. – You know when you wake up on Christmas morning to a time to be lazy and cozy with your family, have a yummy breakfast and some warm coffee, and exchange presents? Me neither. Instead I went to my fourth church service in two days. Even my oldest sister was complaining. To which I actually asked why she goes to church when she could just not. She responded that she just does and she just has to because her husband’s the pastor. It reminded me of what Frankie Heck said on this year’s Christmas episode of The Middle. (Did anyone else see that, by the way? What did you think about the leaving-the-faith storyline?)
5:00 p.m. – My nephew is speaking a lot of gibberish, including “ayah!” and “alah!” My fiance and I try to teach him to say “Allah!” just to annoy my sister.
10:00 p.m. – Everyone is in bed except for me and my fiance who are hanging out in the living room. Except, wait…. my mom is there too. Babysitting us because we might be tempted to commit a sin of the flesh on my sister’s couch. (And no, it wasn’t a coincidence that she was the last one up. She made a comment that she wanted to go to bed which means we need to go too because we can’t be downstairs alone.)
12:00 p.m. – Pastor-in-law: “Mind if I turn on some music?” My fiance: “Go ahead.” Pastor-in-law: *turns on the Lutheran Public Radio* … I can’t explain to you what this sounds like. You just have to look it up.
6:00 p.m. – There is a continuous argument (if you could call it that because my unchurched self is always doomed to lose) between me saying that after December 25th, Christmas is over, and everyone else saying that Christmas is just starting on December 25th. Of course I’m following a normal, secular calendar (I believe in a strict Black-Friday-to-Christmas-Day Christmas season) and they go by seasons of the church year in which Advent, which is Christmas for most people, is during the month of December, and the Christmas season spans from December 25th to January 6th. I don’t mind if at church, you go by that, but in real life, Christmas Day should be the climax and end of the season. But they apply it all the time. And I am automatically wrong because they have church on their side.
10:30 p.m. – My fiance and I have a(nother) really long talk with my oldest sister. The situation in July has not stopped creeping into almost any conversation we have. In short, my sister is really concerned that we don’t feel any remorse about having premarital sex and we don’t seem to view it as a problem. This leads to a whole new can of worms that can potentially ruin my wedding and which deserves its own post…stay tuned.
Wednesday (this may or may not be…my birthday!)
1:22 p.m. – We went out to lunch at my favorite restaurant. The usual gossip concerning drama about the time that my old pastor abolished the Divine Service comes up between my mom and pastor-in-law for the umpteenth time.
1:32 p.m. – Our whole huge family prays moderately loudly before our meal, in public, on my birthday. My fiance and I are both super embarrassed on behalf of our family. I hate it when my family prays at restaurants before we can eat (they do it every single time). I just want to apologize to everyone there for officially being the most annoying restaurant guests.
8:15 p.m. After “Happy birthday to you” comes the bonus verse: “May Jesus bless you; may Jesus bless you; may he bless you and keep you; May Jesus bless you!” Afterwards my fiance whispers to me that he didn’t sing along!
11:30 a.m. – I start reading Lee Strobel’s The Case for a Creator since I can’t read God is Not Great this month when I’m at home with family. Even with the pro-god books, I get nervous when family members like my mom and younger sister ask what I’m reading. As far as they know, I’m a rebellious college student who doesn’t care about religion at all. Even without knowing I’m an atheist, they have no idea I’m into arguments for god or anything like that at all. Surprisingly, though, I think my mom understands it to an extent, because we’re close and she’s known me for 22 years. She knows I’m “struggling with my faith” which is why I took apologetics class, which taught me nothing, which is why I would read a book of arguments for God’s existence. The only difference between that and the truth is that I’m not really struggling to believe at all.
2:00 p.m. – I spend three hours working on my Categories page with family members all around. Whenever someone would come near I would change the screen to pretend I was working on something else. Which is actually what I’m doing right now with this post as well. (If you haven’t seen my new page yet, check it out! Making it was quite challenging and I had to be a ninja.)
8:00 p.m. – Our family watches a Christmas movie 4 days after Christmas and the Is-Christmas-Over-Or-Not debate ensues. I do not watch, because Christmas is over.
9:50 p.m. – Sister: “What’s your favorite season?” Husband (pastor-in-law): “Of the church year? … Advent.”
11:36 a.m. – Trying to make New Year’s Eve plans with my fiance, younger sister, and mom. My fiance and I can’t be in my mom’s house alone while the two of them are at a movie because we could be tempted to commit the sins of the flesh. (I don’t know what she thinks we do in college when he has a car and his own apartment and she can’t watch our every move.) (more details on this here)
10:00 a.m. – The final church service of our trip. After that I get to go home and see my cat again!
So there’s my eight days of Christmas! Surprising as it may seem, it actually wasn’t that bad. My family are some of my favorite people and I think I do a good job of not letting religion get in the way of enjoying our time together!
Anyways, what did you do for Christmas? Did you go home to a religious or non-religious family? Do they know, or share, your beliefs? Let me know in the comments!