Recently a man wrote to me about an article I had written. He was put out that I mentioned Christmas in it. He doesn’t celebrate Christmas and thinks there should be no public mention of it.
I used to feel the same way. I was raised in a home that did not celebrate Christmas, Easter, Halloween and several other holidays. Not only did we not celebrate them, we were taught to be condemning of the holidays. We poked fun at the holidays that we didn’t keep. We refused to have any part of the celebration for fear of being tainted by it. We insulted friends and relatives who found much joy and love in the holidays they kept. In short we were narrow-minded and unloving. The holidays weren’t divisive, we were.
I’m a lot more tolerant and open-minded about other cultures and holidays now. And hopefully I have more blissful relationships because of it. Here are some ways to use holidays to bring you closer to family instead of dividing you.
* Take the time to read up on holidays that you do not celebrate but other family members do. Find out why the holiday was founded and what are some of the customs.
* Ask family members why the holiday is special to them. What did they look forward to as a child and what do they like most about it now as an adult.
* Try to discover a couple of wonderful attributes about a holiday you don’t celebrate (like the food and decorations) and focus on those instead of all the things that bother you.
* If you are invited to a holiday celebration, attend if at all possible. You don’t have to “celebrate” it with them if it is against your conscious, but your presence shows that you care enough to try to understand more about their holiday that is so special to them.
* Realize that boycotting another person’s holiday is a way of saying “You are inferior to me because my holidays are better than yours are” or “My God doesn’t approve of your holidays.”
* If you invite someone to partake in your holiday and they refuse because of their ingrained belief, try not to be offended. Instead, ask to participate in a holiday that they celebrate to show your desire to understand and appreciate their culture.
* Don’t make the illogical mistake of condemning a holiday based on its origins. Those who reject holidays based on “pagan” roots might as well throw away their wedding rings, stop eating cake and never wear red again.
* By all means, be extremely cautious of marrying someone who would refuse to participate in holidays you find dear. They will probably view you as inferior and misguided — trust me, I know.
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