Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Christmas Story

Warning: If you have strong religious convictions you may want to skip this post. I do not mean to offend anyone and I hope that I don’t but I intend to be completely honest in my recount of this story and my feelings on the subject.

It was the winter of 1996. I had been dating my now ex-fiancé for 8 months, we had lived together for 6 months and were engaged after just 2 short months. The fiancé, we will call Boy Wonder or BW for short, was from a pretty religious family which I knew already from having experienced hours worth of prayer at Easter. It is not shocking to me then that upon arrival to BW’s mother’s home for Christmas we find a homemade cake in the shape of a cross. I think nothing of this at the time. I was not raised in a religious household by any means. My best friend’s family was pretty devoutly catholic in our youth so I was familiar with some religious customs. I also had a few very devout Mormon friends whom I had attended church with so I wasn’t totally out of the loop.

The holiday started off as strangely as any other with this family. To say that they were quirky is a bit of an understatement. We had a nice family meal that night and just enjoyed the company. Well, I tried. There were aunts and uncles from out of town and many young children to keep us entertained.
BW’s mother comes bounding down the stairs with the cross shaped cake now loaded down with candles. The whole family quietly gathers around, the candles are lit and they bust out into a boisterous rendition of Happy Birthday to Jesus right there in front of me. As I look around the room I realize that I am the only one not singing. My shock has frozen every muscle in my body. This is clearly a family tradition for them that no one thought twice about. For me it seemed rather cult-like and scary.

I know that everyone says Jesus is the reason for the season. Even the most religious people (if not especially them) must realize that in the story Jesus was actually born in the summer. This is where you want to stop if you have strong feelings on religion but kept reading after my previous warning. I believe the bible is a story. It is a good story about people doing good deeds but it is a story, non-the-less. If it makes people live better lives or be better to each other that is great but to take it so literally baffles me. How do intelligent, free-thinking adults reason that this Jesus character actually existed, let alone died on the cross for our sins? How do they not see the story and many interpretations as a sign that God/Jesus/Allah, whomever you believe in, is within us all. It is not an outside source or a person to seek out in life. It is a peaceful, serene and loving existence within. That is God/Jesus/Allah to me.

I try not to judge others for their beliefs but sometimes one cannot be helped. Everything in me that day wanted to put on my running shoes and get the hell out of dodge. I knew I could never marry into a family with those traditions. It might seem petty and small to some but it is not something I believe in therefore not something I am comfortable in participating in. I know many people of many different origins and beliefs. I am always interested to hear about their customs but I had never been expected (invited, yes) to participate. I understand it was their tradition, their family and their right to carry out this ritual but I knew that day I would never marry this man. Alas, I spent the next 3 years with him. Each Christmas became harder. His mother was never pleased we lived together in sin. She always wanted us to set a date for a wedding despite her distaste for me. In the end, we split after almost 4 years total together.

The irony to the story is that he met, knocked up and married a stripper within months of our break-up. I have often wondered what Mommy Dearest thinks of that. Better yet I wonder if wifey does her own rendition of Happy Birthday to Jesus in her naughty elf outfit and CFM’s (think Marilyn Monroe’s Happy Birthday, Mr. President). Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall of that holiday hoopla today!


  1. wow. that is irony for you. and i dont think there is anything wrong with how you felt, so long as you didnt directly judge or offend them, everyone is entitled to their own opinions as long as you're respectful. and when you marry a person, you really do marry into their family,so not being with him, is prob one of the best things you could have done for yourself.

  2. p.s. i really love that when i comment on your blog i dont have to spell out that spam stuff. its really rather annoying, and i wish that we took it off of our blog too.

  3. I'm right there with you as far as this holiday. I have many friends who believe in Jesus and live thier lives according to the bible. I say, if it works for them, great! But don't judge me if I choose to live my life by a different guide.
    That was a pretty big red flag his family put up, but it sounds like he may not have been all on board if he knocked up someone right away! I think you dodged a bullet there!

  4. I have very mixed feelings on religion, Jesus, and spirituality in general. I'm figuring out what I believe right now. It's hard being a "recovering Catholic" and finding what I truly believe as opposed to what has been jammed down my throat for years. I think it's great to believe in SOMETHING and to not judge others for their beliefs. If you ever do find out about what happened with the stripper story, please let us know. Because that is hilarious!!

  5. I should note that he married the stripper and had 1 more kid with her. They are still married and living far, far from here! Although I do see them both on Facebook quite a bit I have had no contact in about 7 years.