Last year I made this post about how we celebrated Hanukkah for the first time while tying it into the celebration of Christ’s coming to light the world and save us from sin while leading us to Our Father.
Three years ago, Our minds were revolutionized by the power of the Gospel of Christ in regards to how we celebrate days of the year and how we started to think more about the Bible in general and how we read it as if we never read it before (Rob and I were both raised in Christian environments from the start). We then researched a lot of history of the roots of the church and of the holidays that we celebrated all our lives. Our mindsets were transformed a lot, so much so that many people have distanced themselves from us.
The other week I was out with the boys. A woman thought because they were out during the daytime (since they are homeschooled and most children are in school with other children) that we must be on our way to see Santa Claus. My children smirked. I told the woman, “No, not Santa. Sorry.” She then tried to talk to them about how excited they must be about Santa coming to their house to give them presents. They giggled a little. I told her simply, “My children know the truth.” She then seemed mad which was not my intent, so I said, “We celebrate Hanukkah.” She then said, “Oh!” She was very quiet after that and didn’t seem to look mad any longer.
At Micah’s ballet class, there were women showing their Christmas cards that they had made up. They seemed so happy, and I joined them in their joyfulness. I complimented the photos of their children and said, “How cute!” One woman then asked me if I had mailed mine out yet. I told her simply, “I don’t have the money for that.” She said, “You can take the photos yourself though.” I said, “Right, I definitely could, but I don’t have the money to buy the cards at all.” She then said, “Oh. I understand.” She was then quiet.
The point is that during this season we are very respectful that we are not like others and that they celebrate as they do, yet, so many people have expectations for how we must be just like them. We don’t meet those expectations in various ways. We have set ourselves apart from society, while living amonst the people.
I only have enough money to pay my bills. Going into debt is not a good thing, and many people suffer financially during this time, as we had in the past too. Micah’s birthday is only a few days before Christmas anyway, and I’d rather get him a present for that day than loads of presents for both of my children that will end up cluttering up their room. They have plenty, if not more than they even need. Why would I indulge more and spoil them when I can’t stop thinking about the thousands of homeless people or those living in slums hoping to afford a meal for the day? I can’t live in this selfish culture. It is actually extremely difficult. I used to be materialistic and would be upset in the past for not getting more than twenty presents at Christmastime. How terrible how there are some who think twenty is still not enough on top of it. There are people who don’t have more than one set of clothes to wear. There are people who live with plastic as their house. My husband told me the other day that living out the Kingdom of God is getting harder and harder in this culture while easier and easier on our hearts. He said the easy way would be to go along with everyone. The easy way would be to go all out like the rest of them this season. We chose the hard road. It is not easy and we accept that, but we feel great peace.
I spent my $2.50 on candles for our Menorah. That’s that. We’ll probably buy one present for the boys to share, and you know what? They’ll be thankful and so excited. When Rob and I do tell people that we don’t celebrate Christmas, they look at us like we are lunatics and think we don’t care for our kids because we can’t dump hundreds of dollars to buy gifts for our kids. The point is, we don’t want to. We don’t want to raise our kids like everyone else wants them to be raised. We don’t see how Jesus would want us to do that. He wants us to help the oppressed, the poor, and the hungry. He wants us to share what we have with others and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
While most people try to teach their kids to be good so they can get presents from Santa, we tell our children that they can never fully be good because of sin in the world and that thankfully we have grace to free us from sin. We tell them that because Jesus was given to us as a present to the world, sent to serve us and lead us to Our Father, they too will have to serve others and put themselves off as less important and might end up suffering as Jesus had. Jesus gave up living in the rich and beautifully perfect Kingdom of Heaven to living in a homeless sinful disgusting environment. If He can do that for us, I can’t understand why we should find it so important to lavish stuff that won’t last that are material rather than building character in them instead and to show compassion to others like Jesus. God convicted us personally on this and we can’t convince a single person to be like us, nor is it our job to, as it is God’s. We are to just look towards Him. The more we have done that, the more we have seen holidays like Hanukkah and Passover to be more amazing to us.
My pastor’s wife recently asked me about why my son didn’t want to sing a song that had the word “Christmas” in it during choir practice (ones about Jesus’ birth and such we sing with much joy). I was able to share a bit of my heart and she actually decided she liked what I said, so she made a change in the song list to be more focused on Jesus (such as “O Holy Night”). I told her she did not have to do a single change on our account at all and apologized to her. She then asked me more about our newer traditions and why we do what we do this time of year. She was very understanding and didn’t look down on us like a lot of people seem to do. I truly appreciated that. Another woman from our church gave us a bag of tiny gifts to give to the boys each night for Hanukkah, when she didn’t have to do that at all and she doesn’t celebrate it either (She got them little things like tiny dreidels, winter gloves, little necklaces with a bell on them, gelt chocolate, and other very small things).
Our boys aren’t missing out on anything. This week we started celebrating Hanukkah. They really have enjoyed it and can’t wait to light the Menorah each night! They have been having fun with it and love learning more about who God is and how He has helped us time and time again. I like that it is meaningful to them. The love of Christ has been planted into their hearts so naturally and it makes our hearts swell!
May God guide you all in this holiday season. May His son fill you with God’s light and may you spread that light to the world. Let us remember to do this daily throughout the year!