Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Daunting Task of Parenthood and Christmas

I'm going to be a mom in a mere fifteen weeks, approximately. The thought of it is thrilling, yet daunting. Technically, I'm already a mom, what with the gymnastics going on in my stomach that didn't start until bedtime and the consequential need to implore my husband to sing to our little girl so that I could sleep. That's parenthood, right? The bedtime fight? (The singing actually worked, by the way. She stopped her flip-flopping and got still so that I could sleep. She likes her daddy's voice, thankfully).

But parenthood is so much more than that, and the real test comes when I have to figure out what to teach my little girl. That, indeed, is the daunting part of this task I have been handed. I remember sitting in the living room as I received a long-winded speech about the pitfalls of my actions from my mother. At the end of it, inevitably, was the ever-present reminder: "It is my job to train you up in the way that you should go, so that when you are old, you will not depart from it. Because one day I will stand before the throne of God and have to be accountable for what I taught you. So I'm not here to be your friend. I'm here to be your mom." I even once jokingly told her that I was going to put Proverbs 22:6 on her gravestone because she said it so often and it was like her life's motto.

And now, soon, it will be my turn. It will be my job to take the torch and carry it forward to another generation. I just have one problem. There are some things that I'm standing on the fence regarding what I believe about them. The fence isn't the greatest place to be. It's a bit unstable and I often feel like I'm about to fall. But regardless, I will be responsible for what I pour into this child, and I value the position I have in her life very highly. To me, it's quite a serious matter....what I teach her. I feel that it is both the most rewarding and the most heavy responsibility that we have as parents.

I'm not so worried about the easier things like ABC's and school and tying shoes. Rather, I'm apprehensive about the bigger things that I'm not even sure about. For instance....Christmas. Today is actually Christmas day, and while I understand that I won't have to teach her about all the ins and outs of it for a couple of years, when she will comprehend what I am saying, I also realize that sometime before then I need to decide what it is that I actually want to teach her about it. A few years back, I did a bunch of research and discovered the depressing truth that Christmas had entirely pagan roots. I stopped celebrating it. I still don't plan to, but I am nevertheless stuck with a I emphasize the pagan roots in teaching her about it, or do I emphasize the charitable spirit that Christmas now has? A year ago yesterday I was working in a bakery and refused to promote Christmas in any way. I wouldn't even put the colors red and green together on a cake or cupcakes. I attempted to avoid the cake orders that were Christmas-y. I dreaded the moments when people walked in and wanted me to write Happy Birthday Jesus on a cake. I sometimes passed it off to another bakery worker. Didn't they know that he was actually born during the Jewish feast of Sukkot in September/October? They didn't celebrate their own birthdays two months later....why His? And it was well documented that December 25th, the time of the Winter Solstice, was the feast of Saturnalia and the birthday of the sun god Tammuz. Why was everyone celebrating this and fine with it? It was pure pagan. I was excellent at judging everyone and their dogs (who often wore Santa suits).
All Done! by Roxanne Ready licensed under CC by 2.0
Now it's a year later and I am seeing things completely differently. Yes, it used to be pagan and they literally worshiped another god during this time. But that was nearly 2000 years ago. What does it look like now? I don't see any gods being worshiped except Yeshua, who deserves to be worshiped anyways. I see a whole bunch of people thinking, at least for this one time a year, of those less fortunate. I see people volunteering at homeless shelters and sending gifts to children in other countries who lack the most basic of necessities. I see smiles EVERYWHERE. People are actually nice to strangers on the street during this time. Families come together and look forward to spending time together. Differences are set aside. There is so much joy. So I have to ask myself....does Christmas today even remotely resemble its pagan past? I have to answer no. There are no public orgies. People aren't running off to temple prostitutes. Messianics during this time constantly hold up Jeremiah 10:2-4 for all to see. It fits so perfectly with the Christmas trees seen going up during this time...until you look at the second half of verse 3: "A tree from the forest is cut down and worked with an axe by the hands of a craftsman". We Messianics conveniently forget that part. It is quite obvious from this that what they are talking about is literally fashioning an idol out of this wood from the tree. They are not talking about putting up a whole tree in one's house. Additionally, I have never seen anyone who celebrates Christmas bowing down and worshiping their trees. Not once. People can have idols in their hearts, yes. But it is between them and God whether or not they are taking the Christmas season further than just enjoying it into worshiping it. 

Still I waver on what to teach our little girl. What does God think of this season? Does He look down at all the joy, all the charity...pure and wholesome...and abhor it because of its past? Does he hate it because it was once a completely different celebration to a completely different god? And, what if we didn't have internet? Would we even know about this? More than likely not, unless we were historians. Are we now obligated to hate this holiday simply because of the advancement of technology? Perhaps. Perhaps not.

No matter what I end up teaching my daughter, it's important that I teach it with a clear conscience before my Creator. I may not get it perfect, but I can at least do my best. Perhaps that's what parenthood is...doing your best and being willing to apologize when you fail. What are some things you have struggled with about being a parent?


  1. This is a good, thought-provoking post that mirrors some of my own questions about this holiday. I see pros and cons to Christmas, and I, too, wonder what I'll one day teach my children about it. How will they look at it, without the lenses we have, who learned about it as adults and are able to differentiate between good and bad and see both in the same object? I try to rejoice in the good of this season while separate myself from the actual bad, but how easy will that be to teach children? I wish all of us the best when the time comes to talk to our kids about these things. :)
    Your last thought about parenthood is pretty encouraging! I think that's a good way to look at it.
    (P.S. I hope you don't mind the comment ... Matthew was just talking about commenting on blogs, and yours definitely sparked my thoughts ... so ... here I am. You can delete it if you want. :) )

    1. Delete it?!? No way! I LOVE comments and feedback. It lets me know that people actually read this stuff. I'm glad that I'm not the only one out there struggling with this. It's nice to know, sometimes, that there are others who are right there with us. :)

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