Christmas and the Missionary Child

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.

Blasphemy!

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.

IMG_6323North Pole parties. Elves on freakin’ shelves. Cookies, cookies, cookies.

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.

photo by yu han
photo by yu han

Time with my family. Time to just play.

IMG_7015For Moxie and Yu Han – cousins 20 years apart – to relish one another

IMG_7092For Micah and his (youngest) cousin, Yu Rou time to build a house together

IMG_7079For me to put  a suit on my BabyMan that I enjoyed seeing on my first born. Just because. I like that kind of thing.

IMG_7100To feel the weight of his small body on my chest, the smell of his little head. His baby hands on my throat.

IMG_7061That’s where I suppose it started to make more sense to me.

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.

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PS

From Moxie:

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Meriah

is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).

She likes her coffee black and hot.


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5 Comments

  • I don’t have any good answers (being of the Christian, party throwing, rein-beer making, whole hog with both the Jesus and Santa stuff), and I’m realizing that the vast majority of my friends are either Christian, not Christian but not anything else, so they do “American Christmas,” or Jewish, so they have Hanukkah celebrations and attend holiday parties. I appreciate reading your perspective so much, because it challenges me – Thank you for your honesty!

  • I love how everything: north pole parties, cookies, celebrations etc, etc are just an excuse to get together with family and friends! I think that’s the whole idea with this time of the year no matter what it is that you celebrate!
    Oh! and Little Mac on that santa outfit is just too cute!!!!!

  • I feel limited in my holiday experiences. I really am not fond of family get togethers, but love spending time with friends (the truly family of my heart). Now that I have a daughter, I keep telling people that I don’t want to do the whole Santa thing, not because I am religious about Jesus, but because I don’t like mass commercialism and selfishness that runs rampant from after Thanksgiving to Dec. 25. The holidays just exhaust me, and trying to find some idea of myself in them is always hard.

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