Emotions can be overwhelming when we are giving up something well-known to us.
“Christmas is a pagan festival decorated in shining light to entice and engulf the unwary! Don’t be sucked into that attractive web of lies!” (Gerald Aust, Would Jesus Celebrate Christmas? – see below)
It was the mid-eighties when I learned the truth about Christmas and while it wasn’t the statement above that influenced me, it covers the subject well. Too often we ignore what is right in front of us or make excuses for what we do. It’s easy to get sucked into the lies. When I first heard the origins of Christmas I tried to rationalize. “Well we do it now to honor Christ, so it’s okay.” Or “My whole life I’ve kept Christmas, what will my family think?”. Then I started really reading my Bible and other historical writings on the subject and was convinced.
The intent of this article is not to tell you why I don’t celebrate Christmas. There are articles below that address the reasons not to celebrate. Instead, I want to explain what we go through trying to get over it. It was the right thing to stop celebrating, but no, it was not the easiest thing I have ever done. Unfortunately, we humans become very attached to tradition and warm fuzzy feelings. Satan knows that. It’s something he can work with. While I realize that family and friends are also a major reason or possible problem when we decide to change our beliefs, that is an article for another day. Today I am focusing on the emotion. I did not discover the truth until I was in my 20s, that means I had many memories of the holiday to reflect on.
The 5 senses
Our senses are very wrapped up in our memories and can be a big influence on how we feel about things. This holiday is particularly rife with them. Here is some of what we must deal with during the season.
- Smell – My family always had the big live tree. The smell of pine wafted through the house intermixed with the scents of cinnamon candles and live floras and wreaths. There are also the aromas of food. Many a cake, cookie, confection and possibly special main dishes traditionally specific to your family.
- Sight – The lights that sparkle in the night from decorated homes, or the lit-up evening tree and the glow of a fire. The sparkle of tinsel. The wreaths, mistletoe, red, green, silver and gold decorations. The sight of wrapped gifts and ornaments. Movies and television shows. Stuff! All the things we see for sale. The man in the red suit bearing a bag of gifts.
- Sound – Carols being sung on the radio, by choirs, on movies and television, by you or other family members. Music in general, dedicated to the holiday. Bells are also associated with the celebration. The voices of family, especially if they are story tellers.
- Taste – All the cakes, cookies, confections and possibly special main dishes traditionally specific to your family mentioned above. Specialty drinks that are often served.
- Touch – The feel of a fireplace on a chilly Christmas morning. A kiss under the mistletoe. The hugs from long unseen relatives or friends.
While some of these things alone are not bad things to do, such as sitting by a fire or hugging a relative, the fact is that combined with everything else they can create very warm and fuzzy feelings. Again, while the warm and fuzzy feeling is not bad in and of itself, it is precisely what often makes it difficult to give up some of the things we know we should. It’s like an old friend who may be very outwardly nice, but keeps getting into trouble. We want to be around them, but the friendship comes with its own peril.
Christmas is a day that doesn’t just last a day, indeed they have stretched it out to last more than a month in some areas. The lights, decorations and ads for “stuff” start first. Then comes the music soon after. This triggers a nostalgic response in us. All our good family memories arrive, giving us an almost peaceful and loving feeling. The truth is that for many it’s a feeling of melancholy. Why? Often because they feel neglected and alone during the season. Good or bad, this day triggers strong emotions in most people. Our senses play a huge role and are exactly why many find it difficult to walk away even when they know that God does not accept the traditions of men, even when they seem to honor Him.
Don’t misunderstand me. From the moment, I quit celebrating I knew it was right and had no qualms about doing so. However, that does not mean I didn’t have an emotional reaction when exposed to all that I have mentioned.
What can we do?
First, it is important to understand the emotion is not controllable. While we can do things to change the circumstance, our feelings must ease on their own. We can, however, hasten the process. Humans are often lured into what is familiar and comfortable and that can be a problem when we are trying to overcome something.
- Shut it down – If a Christmas show comes on, you can shut it off. Radio music on the radio? Change the channel. Shopping malls bustling? Try to buy major items early or avoid usual stores with all the trappings for somewhere else. While you won’t be able to avoid it, you can keep it to a minimum.
- Stop yourself – Similar to shut it down, but in this case, you are talking to yourself. Singing that carol without thinking? Stop and sing another tune to wipe your memory. Having warm and fuzzy thoughts about what you’re missing out on at the work holiday party or family gathering? Stop and remember you are trying to live the life God has for you and be reminded that you can create new memories by scheduling family gatherings at another time. Maybe Thanksgiving, Independence Day or whatever other time you want.
- Tell the truth – Although they probably won’t want to hear it, tell inquiring minds exactly why you don’t celebrate anymore That Christ is truly not “in” Christmas. It is also helpful to offer to send reference information to back it up if they are interested. Whatever you do, do not get into an argument. Just explain and move on. A simple sentence of understanding often helps. “I know you may not understand, but this is what is right for me to do.” Or “Thank you for being concerned, but I think if you looked into it, you would feel the same way.” Again, if it gets too overwhelming you can always shut it down. Change the subject or walk away if necessary.
- Exchange – Fill the time you would usually be at grandma’s house by hosting a dinner party with those of like mind. Miss decorating? I love decorating. Autumn/Thanksgiving decorations, spring/summer floral arrangements, animal decor and special placemats and I use non-Christmas snowmen and snowflakes to decorate my home in the winter. It’s not about ignoring family, friends, decorations, and gatherings. It’s about shutting down traditions that are ungodly. Exchanging good for bad is a way to cope with all the emotions tied up in it.
- Refill – The fastest way to get over something is to take that emptiness and refill it. I found that the more I kept God’s true holy days, the more I was filled with joy. Why fill my emotional bucket with falsehoods when there was so much more to offer when filling it with truth.
For me, it took some time to overcome the emotions tied up in keeping Christmas, but in a short time those things fade and go away. For those who are for the first time giving up this holiday, I hope this helps.
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