Saturday, October 9, 2010

I am a member of an email group for homeschooling, having larger than usual families, moms. Every year this argument starts going round about the holidays. Our church has a wonderful Reformation Day party that my children (all of them- from the little guys to the 18 year old) look forward to with gusto so Halloween really isn't an issue for us. Secular celebration with the unbelievers in my neighborhood? Or celebrating with all their best friends, running around in historical garb, playing games and eating candy... no brainer.

But CHRISTMAS. Then the argument starts over Christmas. That is was pagan. That it is all about materialism. That we should celebrate the Jewish feasts because they are more Biblical, etc. Well, I'm not usually one to get all in a knot over email loops and I'm more of a libertarian, each to his own sort of person. But at the same time I remember being on those lists as a young mom and feeling guilty that maybe I was being worldly and these moms had more experience than me and were plainly more godly than me... (I mean after all, if they have 10 year old they must be really experienced, right?) and I just grieve for those moms who maybe influenced by this sort of thinking as I was. So I wrote this reply.

I have been a homeschooling mom for 18 years now, and have been around and in various elements of the homeschooling world for all that time (and before, as I always knew we would homeschool and bought my first books before my oldest was conceived!). I remember as a young mom hearing about Christmas being pagan and we didn't really celebrate Christmas for years. Sometimes we would go to the mountain and play in the snow, sometimes we would stay home and make a nice dinner and play soft music..

I am sorry now that I didn't celebrate more with my older children. 

I still have all my ten children at home, I have the benefit of regaining some of those years through still having very small children and I (and their older teenage siblings) thoroughly enjoy Christmas through their eyes. But I regret that I did not make more of an effort to make that time of year a wonder filled time of year for my older kids. What if I didn't have those younger ones, that I could change and model joy rather than dreariness to? What if my older ones had never been able to enjoy a joyful celebration of Christ's birth in my home?

I do not believe in celebrating the Jewish feasts. I do think we should study them and know all their Biblical importance, but I am not called to be a member of old Israel. God has created the church. We are to have our own symbols (he changed circumcision  to baptism, Passover to the Lord's Supper, Sabbath at the end of the week to resurrection at the beginning, etc.) We are the "called out ones". I want my children to take part in this new community called "the church".

It is not a command to celebrate Christmas, but it is a joyful privilege. If one of a tender conscience doesn't feel comfortable with elements of it, I certainly wouldn't ask them to do anything to harm their relationship in the Lord. But I also would not encourage young mothers who want to celebrate the seasons  with their little ones to abstain on the basis of someone else's conscience, but only if the Word of God prohibits. God tells us not to add to His word. Sometimes I catch one of my kids saying "Mama said" when that wasn't what I said. Who is in trouble there? Be careful when you cause doubt on another person on the basis of your own opinions, rather than on the Word of God. I do believe a case can be made Biblically for not allowing our children to sit under the tutelage of instructors that will overtly teach them falsehood. I don't see the same clear case for Christmas. 

I don't want to make anyone feel badly for what they chose to do if that is honestly what they want to do. But my concern is for the young mothers out there, dealing with so much burden, guilt and judgement in the world. Christmas is a glorious time for children. It's the one time of the year that Christ's name cannot be avoided. Take them to the parades. Get a tree. Talk about "Light", "evergreen", angels, shepherds, whatever your heart desires and rejoice in the Lord with thankfulness for whatever He provides for you to be able to do (present wise.)


I wish I was more eloquent, but I've done what I could.


  1. I wholeheartedly agree with you. The memories and bonds made through family traditions at the holidays are the things that tie us together for years to come.

    When I think back to when my children were younger and the things that upset me just don't seem that important to me any more. Relationships, love and respect, celebrating traditions...these are all good gifts God has given us.

  2. I have always wholly embraced Christmas. In the Mennonite church we werent allowed to have Christmas trees but that didnt stop us from celebrating. My fondest Christmas memories are those of going caroling every year. As kids we piled in the back of four wheel farm trucks with all the other church people and drove from house to house caroling to the "lost" It was always snowy cause we lived in the mountains. We sat on hay bales and when the weather was blowing snow the men, including my dad, put on the farm racks and draped huge tarps over the top to create a tent in the back of the truck. The hill folk waited for our coming. They never knew what night we were coming on but this tradition went on for 50 years and they tell me the Mennonite church up there is still doing it. After a couple of hours the trucks would all return to our farmhouse for homemade donuts and cinnamon rolls and huge vats of hot cocoa! The young people would gather around and play the piano, guitars, and what ever while others would enjoy a rowdy game of dutch blitz! Man, I was good at Dutch Blitz in the those days!! I was practically unbeatable! sigh...oh ...wait ...we were talking about Christmas not my lost youth... yeah, Christmas is a wonderful time of year!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Great post, Kerri! There certainly is a lot of guilt laid on young moms - guilt for celebrating Christmas doesn't need to be one of them. :-)

  4. Early in my married life, I didn't enjoy Christmas. We were trying to give gifts to family members on both sides as they did and it was very difficult financially and timewise.
    I got to the point where I gently told most of the people on my list that I was cutting it to the bone. My husband's sisters didn't really like the idea, but I stuck with it.
    Now that I only give a few gifts at Christmas, it's fun again. We enjoy the tree, baking and various church and community celebrations.
    We never did Santa Claus with our children and I have no regets about that.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts....Denise

  5. Beautiful, Kerri. For a couple of years I went sort of minimalist on Christmas but I started to see that Christians of all people should take joy in celebrating the birth of Christ. So I celebrate as much as I can.

    That doesn't necessarily means loads of presents, either. We don't exchange gifts with many people. But we decorate and bake and cook and invite people over, and go to what Christmas events we can.

    I'm glad you had a second chance. Your older kids will likely remember the fun Christmases and not the dreary ones!

  6. Excellent Kerri! Thank you for the guilt remover. :-) What HS forums do you recommend?

  7. Lana, The one I like best is the one through Ambleside Online. It's mainly for Charlotte Mason homeschoolers who use their study plan, but the women on there really know their stuff and can point one to a lot of resources.

    I'm also on Above Rubies (That's the one with the Christmas discussion) becuase I really like the magazine but sometimes the "My lifestyle choices are better.." gets a little thick.

    But I'm not really all that into the loops anyway. I'll go my email and have like 100 messages, save maybe 5 that may interest me and delete the rest. I feel more comfortable with the blog format.

    See you a little later. :)

  8. Kerri, I loved your post. You are right on. And I am applauding you.

  9. Hi Kerri, I was glad to see your comment on my blog. I should explain that my daughter and her two assistants cook for 80 students and staff at a Bible college 1.5 hours from us in the Rocky Mountains near the Continental Divide.
    You mentioned that you will have 9 months of rain now. Wow....We were in Western Oregon about 7 years ago and one of the first things we did was buy new wipes for our car. The old ones couldn't handle the amount of rain we were experiencing. Have a very blessed week........Denise