I don’t talk all that much about growing up a missionary child, do I?
In fact, it seems to me that I talk about it around once a year… right around now (here was my post last year, if you want to catch up). It makes sense, I suppose – that with all this faith and love and God in the air, I come back to my religious roots and spend a fair amount of time thinking through all these traditions and faith-things and wonder at what makes sense for me and my family in our here and now.
I’ll tell you this, though: it sucked growing up.
I wasn’t a Christian missionary child, remember; oh no. We were Baha’i – to which most people respond “buh-whaaaaat“. Yeah. Baha’i missionary kid. Deaf, with coke-bottle glasses and oh-so white in a black Christian country – I’ll give you a minute to digest that: deaf/white in a black Christian country. Deaf/white in a black Christian country who is telling the Christians that Jesus has come again and His Persian name is Baha’u’llah! This, while mostly attending a Catholic school, complete with nuns and prayers 3 times a day.
It’s not like we didn’t believe in Christ – remember, we were telling people that our Prophet was the RETURN OF CHRIST! So how to you reconcile it? This big huge celebration for the birth of Jesus, which in the Baha’i Faith is all very well – nothing at all wrong with celebrating the birth of Jesus, it’s just sort of… well, why do it if Jesus has, as Baha’i’s believe, already returned? It’s sort of like throwing a bash for Zoroaster.
And yet if I said this to anyone while I was growing up – any of it – the bits about Jesus having returned, or questioned having a grand birthday party for Jesus when, in fact, I believed he had returned, everyone looked at me like I was deeply, fundamentally and tragically crazy because while everyone loved Jesus, they didn’t want to entertain for minute the thought that He might have actually returned. Sans heralding angels. Like a thief in the night.
Deep in my heart, I wanted things to be easy. Be like everyone else even. I wanted to not have to explain everything all the time.
I wanted – and still want an easy concept of Christmas. With three kids now, there is a part of me that wants to give in to “fun” and “gay” and frolic with those Elf on the Shelf things. I wanted to look at those “North Pole Parties” that were spinning around facebook with less eyebrow raising because it makes me feel old to feel so…jaded.
Sweet traditions of the deeply loving variety – candles and midnight hails to Jesus with hands tenderly clasped around those dear. Some things I can’t help but roll my eyes at (- the former) and likewise can’t help but wishful sigh over (- the latter).
I mulled over this in the sleepless post-partum haze that drenched me in depression, pondering on the endless questions pounding in my sluggish head.
Gifts/no gifts? Tree? Whole hog or some hog or no hog?
In the end, I didn’t have to decide. Mom solved the question of the tree by buying Micah a tree at the dollar store that he had his heart set on – in all of it’s astonishing purple tinsled glory. Then we came up north to see my brother and his kids and give My One True Love time to fix the truck.
Time with my family. Time to just play.
Christmas – all of the holiday pieces in this December puzzle really – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Solstice, Festivus – most of them have the achingly beautiful and significant religious component. But if you are not with that religion, it’s not something one can dive into for a season. And if you can’t be a part of that spiritual experience, then the piece that makes sense to me, the universal piece in it all, is the one about enjoying our loved ones.
That, I can do.
I hope you had a very merry Christmas. Or whatever holiday it is that you celebrate.