The Friday Column: The Ghost of Christmas-That-Never-Was

As I sat looking at the fairy lights on my Christmas tree last week, I accepted that for another year I would feel nothing. Or at least, I would not feel what I am supposed to feel. I put up this tree and decorations for my young children but I’m aware that I don’t have the same emotional connection to Christmas that others do.

I am purposefully trying to give my children the memories I was denied. I want them to feel the ‘magic’ of Christmas that others talk about. The warm feelings when certain songs are heard, when particular food is smelt. The excitement of opening up the tiny doors on an advent calendar, counting down the days until it’s time to open the presents. But somehow, 20 years on, I still don’t feel as though I really fit in.

The Ghost of Christmas-That-Never-Was

To me, growing up and seeing a Christmas tree was a sign that the owner of the tree was ‘pagan’, a mark that they were an unbeliever, that they were angering God, and thus would end up dying a horrible, gruesome, and much deserved death. At least this is what I was told. I was cognizant of the fact that people would use this pagan holiday to overeat and over drink, and that the only reason they gave gifts was out of obligation. It was pointed out to me by my religion that these people were just spending money because they had to, that they didn’t really care. Christmas, I was told, was just an excuse for materialism.

I remember hiding from carol singers, and being excluded from Christmas themed activities at school as per my mum’s request. After all, I had to avoid unnecessary mingling with “worldly” people. Around me, children would be making Christmas cards to take home or would be having fun taking part in other creative and festive activities, but I would not, could not, participate. My children seem to be doing a different Christmas themed activity everyday at the moment and I can’t help but reflect on how being excluded from all this must have felt for the younger me.

Christmas cards were especially hard to deal with. I always felt left out if I didn’t receive one, but knew I could not accept them. I remember looking away shyly when people gave them out, trying to spare the child’s embarrassment at not giving me one, even though I had said I didn’t celebrate Christmas. Sometimes they would give me one (probably just to be nice, or because they felt sorry for me, or maybe because their parents forced them to), but that was even worse. On these rare occasions, I would quickly stuff the card into my bag, wondering what to do with it. My usual solution was to put it in the trash bin quickly when I got home, to avoid the disapproving glance of my Mum. I felt guilty just having it in my possession.

The Ghost of Christmas Alienation

I left the organization over 20 years ago, when I was around 18 years old, and was shunned by my family and friends. I ran away to London to escape the awkwardness and shame of being an apostate. While in London, some friend or coworker would inevitably invite me to their house for Christmas, because they wouldn’t hear of someone spending the day alone (which was all I wanted to do). So I would go along, always uncomfortable because I had no idea how to behave. I would stress out in the run up about gifts… what should I buy? How much should I spend? How should I react to receiving a gift? Will I have to say ‘Merry Christmas,’ which was still like speaking a foreign language to me?

Almost always I was thrown into a family Christmas, where I would be the only outsider and have no idea what to do. Each family has their own Christmas traditions and I didn’t even know the basics. Although I appreciated their kind intentions, I always felt like someone was going to ‘discover’ me as an impostor, an interloper on their festivities- somewhere I didn’t belong.

For many years I drifted from one friend to another, one Christmas gathering to another- a different experience, a new awkwardness each time. Trying to feel what they felt. Wishing I could feel what they felt. The Christmas jumpers, the ceremony of gift opening, different yet similar each time. Then there were the years where I just stayed at home with my partner. Just drinking…mostly. We exchanged gifts between us; that was a little easier than a lot of expectant eyes on me, but it still didn’t feel right or natural.

And now I have two extremely exuberant and amazing children, excitedly counting down the days to Christmas, expectant of a visit from Santa. The tell me all about ‘Baby Jesus’, whom they have learnt about at school. They are over the moon with their decorated tree, and hoping for snow on Christmas day, just like all the Christmas specials promise them. I do my best to be excited with them, try to sing along with the Christmas songs they have learned. I still struggle with the words, even after having been bombarded with these mind-numbing songs from mid October onwards working retail. It’s a second hand excitement; I love seeing my children so happy and enraptured with the magic of the season, but I don’t feel it myself.

When I first parted company with the Witnesses I still fervently believed so many of their teachings, but that wasn’t why I dreaded Christmas. I just felt utterly out of place. In many ways having children to focus on has helped greatly, diverting attention (imagined or otherwise) away from me. I feel that no one is watching as I unwrap gifts, or listening out for my ‘Merry Christmas’ over the squeals of my children. But I still find it a difficult time of year. The focus on families doesn’t escape me and I can’t help but reflect of the fractured nature of my own. Of course I know I wouldn’t be sitting around a table laden with food and pulling crackers with them even were I not shunned, but it still affects me.

I find myself envious of the many ex-JWs that I see happily putting up their decorations and enjoying all the season has to offer. I wonder whether I am just ‘not there’ yet and perhaps it will come to me one day.

Sometimes I feel like the only ex JW that isn’t enjoying it!  Am I doing something wrong, or is this my fate?

The Ghost of Christmas Future

But this all changed a few days ago when I attended my first ex-JW Christmas dinner.  It’s probably the most comfortable I have ever been at Christmas, opening a gift and pulling a cracker, laughing with my new friends and admiring each others gifts. Each person who sat at that table was at a different point in their transition out of the faith; maybe out for 20 years like me or just out for a year.

But we all share in that knowledge, that history – unspoken yet understood.

Everyone around that table was a little out of place – we were in our own little Land of Misfit Toys-  but  we were also perfectly ‘at home’ with everyone else. It was weird and wonderful to be doing the ‘normal’ thing, together.

We all kind of need that kind of fellowship (to use a very Watchtower word), the friendship and support of people with a shared experience and hope for the future.  I think I experienced Christmas magic, even if just a little.

Maybe that is what Christmas is all about.

 

Lydia Finch

Follow Lydia on twitter @finchlydia

Lydia has also appeared in a number of interviews and videos discussing ExJW life and her JW Activism. A selection can be found below.

 

 

Open letter to Serena Williams

 

 

Online coverage of open letter to Serena Williams

 

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39 Responses to The Friday Column: The Ghost of Christmas-That-Never-Was

  1. Athlyn says:

    As the years tick by, I realize just how badly we’ve all robbed in so many important ways. Because of this cult, so much normal living has been torn away, replaced with a hollow works-based non-life, whereby J.W.s are unplugged and disconnected from family, the greater community, and from experiences that give life meaning.

    No so-called charity should have this much power over people’s lives.

  2. Imacountrygirl says:

    Lydia, I cried as I read your post. I could identify with your feelings.

    I haven’t quite got there yet, to feeling comfortable celebrating Christmas.

    True confession, a couple of days ago, at the age of 66, I got the cutest little Christmas tree at half price…the first one I have ever dared to own. I feel so naughty!

    I also bought Christmas cards at half price too.

    So I’m making a little bit of progress!

    I can’t help but think of myself as that little girl who was always felt left out of everything at school, how painful that was and how hard I tried not to let other students see my pain. One year, a teacher could not stand the thought of me being in a classroom all by myself, so she brought me a paper plate of goodies.

    The stuff tasted sooooo good, and I just never told Mom or Dad. What a pathetic little secret.

    I think it’s absolutely grand that you got to celebrate your first Christmas with others who know exactly what you have been through because they have been through it too. It’s a bond of love no one else can understand.

    Another true confession, I’m glad for you and sad for me because I have not found one single solitary ex-witness to talk to in real life.

    As I hear of more and more who have faded or gone apostate, I know that the odds are in my favor and one day I will find somebody else.

    Thank you for such an inspiring article.

    • Stirring Awake says:

      Hi Countrygirl,

      I’m in Australia and rest assured, as many ex-witnesses as there are undoubtably here, I too have yet to meet any. I’ve only been out officially for a bit more than a year (but mentally checking out for the last 4) and this year was my first Christmas/New Year. While not celebrating the former and attending a small gathering for the latter, it’s definitely hard adjusting to a normal life when there’s no one else that just ‘gets it’.

      Happy to chat if it helps – Jacen.Walker@hotmail.com

  3. David Brand says:

    Thank you Lydia for stating so clearly what I have felt for the past 30 years since I left the witnesses. It is hard for my wife to understand my perspective. I’m going to share your excellent story with her tonight!

  4. Julie Vick says:

    I read this and totally felt for you. I’ve been “out” for over 22 years….and unlike you, I prayed as a child that God would “allow us” one year to celebrate…. I always wanted to just fit in – I was tired of not ever fitting in… I HATED that… I knew there wasn’t Santa – I knew the origin of Christmas – I didn’t care. I asked my Dad if it was okay that I thought the lights were pretty….he said Satan was the angel of light and he wanted us to think it was pretty. What a crock of sh*t. A little girl was told the pretty lights were part of Satan’s plan… I have embraced Christmas. My daughter was 8 before we had Christmas at our home…but now – between her and I we have built a wonderful Christmas tradition and we are not all about the gifts…. we have had Christmas for the strays – those that couldn’t get home to their families or those that are like us…without families to celebrate with. We have Christmas Eve presents and Santa on Christmas day….and now I’m blessed with grandchildren. My husband, a recent JW – has also gladly embraced our traditions..although awkward at first, and we have a grand time. It’s just a couple days of celebration of family – a time to appreciate Jesus, and a time to embrace family. We cook together, make ginger bread houses together, wrap together…. give together – what a wonderful act of giving within our families. We share love and camaraderie. We love our Father and his Son, Jesus and nothing we do is disrespectful to either. This organization is not one of kindness, sharing, giving or loving at all…. I pray our Father will continue to bring them out of this mess. Thank you for this site – you truly are a blessing.

  5. Ex-Pionner says:

    A&E TV in the United States is airing an interesting show on Scientology and I can’t help but see many similarities between these two cults.

    Here is the link:

    http://www.aetv.com/shows/leah-remini-scientology-and-the-aftermath

    I can finally celebrate Xmas. In fact, we have three Xmas Trees now. It takes a while to get deprogrammed.

    Lloyd would be possible for you or someone in your group to write about Leah Remini’s show on Scientology? I believe that some Witnesses could watch it because it is not directed at them and realize how similar these two cults are!

  6. John Plummer says:

    Very well written, Lydia! I identified with everything you wrote. What you give testimony to is the awful, insidious power of childhood indoctrination. As long as I live I will work to help eliminate that evil.

  7. When I was a Witness I told people that I didn’t celebrate Christmas because I was a Christian and not a Pagan. Now, if anyone should ask, I would tell them that it’s because I’m not a Christian or a Pagan.

    Just because we’re ex-Witnesses, that doesn’t mean we have to celebrate Christmas now, or that we should necessarily “get the Christmas spirit”; it only means that we are free to do so.

    For those who can enjoy it: fine; I’m happy for you. But I confess that I’m with the crowd who just don’t get it.

    I go through the motions of “Christmas” with my wife’s family, because it is important to her. But, other than a chance to be with family, I don’t like anything about Christmas. I think it’s important to always question WHY we do certain things — traditional or not — and ask what their impact is.

    No one I’ve ever asked can tell me what chopping down a tree and dragging its dying remains into a house has to do with a son of a god being born (or even with the Santa Claus legend.) Do we ever stop to think how wasteful it is to grow millions of trees only to cut them down, truck them around the country, and then dispose of them?

    I don’t think that it’s a healthy thing to lie to children by telling them that Santa Claus is real. It was somewhat traumatic for me, as a child, when I discovered that my parents had deceived me; I was relying on them to help me grasp the reality of the world, and I was angry when I learned that they had purposely sabotaged that effort. I would much rather that they had told me the story as a fairy tale that some people actually believed in, and had never given me presents “from Santa.”

    Finally, we all know that the merchants have taken over and turned the focus to consuming their goods, to the point where people feel pressured to buy things no one needs with money they can’t afford. But I’m sure the gross commercialization of this day turns everyone’s stomach, so I needn’t elaborate.

    (And, oh yes: if I have to listen to “The Little Drummer Boy” one more time in my life I think that I shall pull out what little hair I still have left!) 🙂

  8. Alby says:

    BTW JW’s should be grateful about being taught to show a long deluded world that they don’t have to do everything everyone else does. Jewish kids too learnt and practiced this for centuries.

    • al etheredge says:

      I can tell you from experience that the “world” never seemed to pick up that lesson, and I was simply left on the outside looking in. Great article, by the way.

  9. Alby says:

    Endeavors to live and speak truthfully is no reason to fret. The modern day calendar also honors imaginary deities of the past -gods of war etc.. Yet ‘removing the names of idols’ [Zechariah 13] was foretold to bring enhancing results. So we abandoned using those day and month names, with marvelous results still forthcoming as part of the essential latter times ‘fountains cleansing’ from errors. The truly Living God still honors Truth!

    • Sarah says:

      I didn’t really understand this. Do you belong to a religion of some sort? I get the names of the days – Wednesday is Wodin’s day, Thursday, Thor etc. I think?
      If you want to get together with your family, please do so, give gifts and so on. I don’t keep Christmas. All my friends know it and laugh good-naturedly because I don’t judge them. I do try to give gifts at other times. Admittedly it’s easier when you are an adult but even as a child I didn’t mind. But I had good, kind parents so I was fortunate.

  10. Lauralou says:

    This really struck a chord with me this year. I haven’t attended meetings for more than ten years but in all honesty I don’t think anyone has thought of me as a JW for closer to 20 years. That said, I allowed my husband to put up a Christmas tree, for the first time ever, last year. It felt odd and out of place in my home. We used to joke that we were having a Winter Festival and exchange gifts when my kids were younger but I’ve never really “felt” Christmasis and probably never will. What bothered me the most this year was missing family, though as the author stated it’s not as if we would be exchanging gifts even if they were here. I’m not sure why it hit me so hard this year but it did. I’m glad though because this longing I’ve been feeling has caused me to do some serious soul searching. I never thought of it this way before but I realized the Organization has controlled my life in one way or another since the day I was born. It’s not like I, or others like me, ever had a choice. We aren’t born with a “get-out-of-jail-free” card that we can just turn in and become exempt from all the silliness surrounding the JW’s. At no point did anyone ask me if this was the life I wanted, nor did they ask my permission to include me. It was pretty cut and dried…you do what we tell you to do or we will hold your clueless family hostage. And they did just that. The more I think about it the madder it makes me. I’m not sure who I’m the most angry with though. The fact that the Organization holds so much power over people or my family for not seeing what is being done to them, and in the long run we all know I’m probably most angry with myself for not just blindly following along. I’m not 100% sure this is something I will ever truly resolve and just that thought devastates me because that means that no matter how far I distance myself from them they will always have some small hold on me. It might be time to find a therapist.

    • Robyn Bass says:

      Hello Lauralou, I just wanted to reply to your post and say I’m feeling the same as you and every single thing you said resonates with me. I left home at 20 (escaped) but it took me several years to fade. Soon after I came to live in the UK and have maintained a good relationship with all my JW family in Australia for many many years, never saying or doing anything against their religion.
      All that changed in feb.16 when I stumbled by chance on the Aust. Royal com. I asked my elderly parents about it & was told it was just rubbish off the internet, then the phone was put down on me. A week later I phoned again to be told I was possessed by satan & this time the phone was slammed down.
      I have gone from skyping my parents twice a week to absolutely all communication of any kind completely cut off with me & has continued that way to now, despite my many e mails etc etc.
      I was so shocked it has forced me to do in depth research of this religion of my youth for most of the past year, I have been sickened by the findings.
      I’ve always been frightened of the religion and have never been quite free from it, the A.R.C changed that.
      Like you I have never known how to have Xmas, my parents would always call over the holidays, either before Xmas day or after, but never on the day. Somehow this must of justified the call at Xmas.
      I have never spoken about my past in the JW’s even though it is always under the surface, BUT this outrageous treatment this past year from my family has brought the memories into clear focus & has lifted the veil of fear. Like you I have just realised even though I’ve been out all this time the mind control has still been there. Its made me very sad and then very angry. It’s my new year’s resolution to meet and become friends with as many ex JW’s as I can, because they will be the only ones who truly understand the mind bending control that takes a life time to be free of. Keep strong – regards Robyn.

    • Big B says:

      @ Lauralou:

      I truly feel your frustration but part and parcel of any healing process is to talk (or write) it out which you have done here along with others. Good, the healing has started and it gets better (your anger) with time. Soon their hold on you, even though you have left, will be less and less. They have only as much power over you as YOU give them. My family and I have decided to give them absolutely none. No power and no recognition other than the disdain they truly deserve for being a bunch of Adventist, Rutherfordite, doomsday, cultists.

      I feel that we are truly fortunate to have left this cult for what it does and what it represents, namely a clueless, doctrinal inept, moronic, money grabbing, “time bandit”. It steals time from other worthwhile pursuits that prevent you, as an individual, from reaching YOUR true full potential.

      Higher education, bettering yourself in your job to provide for your family, practicing your talents, engaging in sports, politics, other community charities, or hobbies are “things of this world” that will soon pass away. After all, Armageddon is just around the corner! Better to work for us (Watchtower Bible and Tract Society) pro Bono and have ‘treasures’ in heaven. Oh, by the way, since you are not part of the 144,000 how are you supposed to ‘withdraw’ these treasures and use them is your problem. Yeah, right.

      Hopefully, it is my sincere wish, that many more J.W.’s will become disillusioned and disgusted enough to do the same, and research the facts for themselves. That is my NEW YEARS wish for all!

      Again best wishes and a prosperous, healthy 2017 to all!
      Big B

      • Winston Smith says:

        Great thoughts Big B. Appreciated “It steals time from other worthwhile pursuits that prevent you, as an individual, from reaching YOUR true full potential.”

        For any of us, our lives are simply this: a finite amount of time on this planet (see Psalm 144:4). Therefore, by robbing us of our precious time, they are in reality robbing us of life.

        WS

  11. Martin stott says:

    Yes such startling honesty and accuracy, I am in a sort of no mans land because of this intensive brow beating about these pagan traditions, I have had to learn to accept free gifts when they are given but I always feel ackward when accepting, the only thing that will make sense is if they turn out to be the true religion in the last days, then all these rules and regulations that they enforce will of been justified.

    • Wideawake says:

      Don’t worry…they won’t be.

    • messenger says:

      Hello Martin,

      They’re looking for you. Do you believe that the fact that people can spiritually kill you for talking to us is actually Bible based? Who did Christ not talk to? And was Jehovah going to kick Christ out if he spoke to the WRONG type of persons? Or did Christ speak to ALL types of people? Didn’t Christ speak to Satan? So, who could have been that wrong person for Christ to have spoken to? And don’t the scriptures teach us to follow his example?

      Anyway, I repeat, they are looking for you. And if they catch you I hope that you spiritually survive that ordeal. For many on sites like this one those types of ordeals have been very difficult, and painful, and some didn’t survive them. Others who did survive have been traumatized. That’s the reality of man-made religious regulations that are opposed to actual scriptural teachings. And that’s the reason for the Bible teaching, “Don’t go beyond the things that are written.” Those things written are referring to scriptures, not WT writings.

      Best wishes!

    • messenger says:

      A few very interesting rather “NEW Rules” given at a US zone talk, I believe in 2014 by tight pants Tony. #1-If a brother’s pants are too tight no servant should work with him in field service. An implied rule given by Tony stating he agreed with a circuit overseer that refused to work with a brother wearing tight pants. #2- If a sister wears “spanks,” like a tight jogging outfit, she ‘scripturally’ should only do so inside her home, never outside. #3-And the one I like best. If a brother is 23 years old and is not already an appointed servant no sister should marry him. All of those rules were given to JWs compliments of tight pants Tony. When he delivered those rules he opened his talk by stating he had written documents backing up what he was about to deliver right in his hand, though he never quoted even a WT when giving such rules.

      Interestingly the WT has written that some THEY acknowledge as anointed are not servants in their congregations. My guess is all those ones are older than 23 years old. But with the new rule they are not Christian marriage material. And I guess Herd agrees since he said Tight Pants gave an encouraging talk. Martin, do you believe those rules are justified? Do they go beyond the things written, are or those rules accurate Bible interpretations that have God’s approval? John 17:17

      • messenger says:

        oops Reverse the occurrence of my RRs
        Best wishes Martin. And I suggest not using your real whole name since it appears you attend the Hall. The WT has spies.

  12. Songbird says:

    I’ve been out for years and still struggle with the effects of ‘phobia indoctrination’ by the Watchtower Society. (http://www.freeminds.org/psych/phobias.htm) I can tell myself I am now free to celebrate if I want to but that left over fear and guilt is like a wet blanket smothering any inclination to participate. It manifest itself as sour grapes…the Christmas spirit is fake, just an excuse to spend money, the carols are ‘lies set to music’ as one of the publications stated. But those thoughts are not really mine, they were implanted in me by the organization over the course of a lifetime. Just another way to make me feel separate and above people who don’t have ‘the truth’. Its like a hypnotic suggestion implanted to make sure I will feel socially and emotionally isolated long after I’ve left the organization. Very effective.

  13. Tara says:

    I had faded enough last Christmas to put up a few glittery, Christmas type flowers in blue and silver… I even bought some cheap baubles from the dollar store and popped them in a bowl… then hoped and prayed no one would knock on my door – how pathetic. As I haven’t been to a meeting since the awful memorial this year I decided, sod it, I’m having a tree… I’ll go and find a nice small, conservative one that I can put on a little table and just enjoy it with a few lights on. So as the assistant and I tried to stuff a 7ft tree into my little car I realised I need a lot more baubles to fill it…. trip tot he dollar store… oh look Christmas cards… ok. Hmm pretty snowflakes I could hang from fishing wire in the window…. at this point I realised I was damned for all time and would be dead when Armageddon came so I shrugged my shoulders and bought some spruce garlands and went home.

    At hme I re arranged my furniture in my tiny basement suite, dragged this tree from it’s box, finally got all the lights working on it and then decided to put the baubles on… at this point my daughter handed over my granddaughter – she had no idea what was taking over my living room. So my two year old granddaughter and I passed a good couple of hours decorating the tree.. all the time this little one was ‘oh pretty’! ‘my bubble!’ ‘lights!’ the joy on her little face sent a tingle down my spine.

    It was a day or so later I realised that the bottom of the tree looked bare… I have a bunch of old fashioned toys so I placed the large wooden pull along train on the red mat and added the humming top… as you can imagine, little gifts soon began to appear there as well… my living room looked amazing. I have sat staring at the tree for days. I went through times of guilt and dread in case there was a knock on my door. (the elders stopped calling when I stuck a large notice on my door telling them ‘don’t call me, I’ll call you – it’s still there and seems to ward them off)

    Christmas was an odd one… Christmas day I found out that I had another granddaughter, born on Christmas Eve… premature but doing well. I was invited upstairs to open gifts with my daughter and her family. She never put decorations up, although faded she still clings to her friendships with one or two and feels guilty. The week of Christmas I was alone and I tell you I have never felt so alone in my life. I went and raided a crystal shop – PAGAN! haha what the heck (can we say that?). for the last couple of days I have had my son and granddaughters home before they go back to the new baby in hospital four hours away. New year will be spent on my own with my fur babies and a bath bomb with a diamond ring hidden in it… a gift from my son and daughter in law 🙂 HAPPY NEW YEAR ALL!

  14. Free Thinker says:

    Hi folks,

    Christmas is a typical example of how the JW.Org imposes her own simplistic, white v. black, them against us, we are the only good ones, they are all rotten stinking bad, 2 legs baaad 4 legs goood binary, lightswitch-like “on/off” non-intelligence.

    Over here too, during the past 40 years, the notion was: Christmas is just a cover for debauchery and immorality, let alone that it is nothing but a veneration of filthy ancient pagan deities.

    Now, living in an area that is called the “Bible Belt”, I discovered that – lo and behold! – there actually ARE people for whom Christmas really is about JESUS CHRIST – unbelievable! Who would have thought! Yes, they do know that Jesus probably was not born on Dec. 25, yes, they are aware of the historic facts as regards Mithras, Saturn, the Invincible Sun, ancient Roman and Germanic customs etc. – but to them, Christmas is about celebrating the unfathomable and unspeakable LOVE OF GOD, as expressed through Jesus Christ, it is about the SPIRIT OF GRATITUDE, the expression of our own thankfulness for the gift God gave by giving his beloved son to us, by sharing this love and gratitude among other humans, with each other, to reflect the JOY OF GIVING , thereby to reproduce on a small scale the joy of the Eternal Father-God who gave a part of His Own to us lowly creatures.

    The realization of this fact of what Christmas REALLY is still about to many people hit me like a lightning bolt. Besides many other realizations on my path of awakening to the “truth behind ‘The Truth'”, this was yet another revelation.

    Here, the JW.Org is a stickler for rules and “absolute truth” (“ACCURATE knowledge”) in their petty little, raised index-finger-wagging “JESUS WAS NOT BORN ON 12/25”-smart alec nagging; but over there, they are selling such HUUUGE monstrous falsehoods like the 1914-doctrin that has been proven a MONSTROUS SCANDALOUS FRAUD beyond any doubt – but they are basing their entire existence on such a lie which they are stubbornly branding “divinely revealed truth, and you better believe it and bow to us, or else…”.

    I was fortunate to grow up with Christmas, Easter, birthdays, … and – during all my JW.Org-servitude years – never really lost the memory of those warm and cozy feelings those occasions instilled in us when we were young. Now, realizing (again) what Christmas is REALLY all about, feeling its true ESSENCE, SOUL and SPIRIT and seeing that – despite all the gall and vitriol the JW.Org is spewing about in all her self-righteous rants – there are still people around to whom Christmas still is what it should be – I cannot help but letting this “Christmas flame” burn bright again in my soul and heart, being profoundly touched by the truly wonderful “thing” it is really about. It’s not about cold numbers, about precise dates, about all those man-made, small-minded, self-imposed rules that are nothing but devices to “set oneself apart from all the other bad ones”, from “the baaad world”, “Satan’s system” etc. If the JW.Org’s SOLE and REAL intent was a search for TRUTH, they would start by dumping all of her profoundly wrong and unbiblical doctrines like the utterly wrong “1914”-doctrine, her extremely hurtful and damaging “disfellowshipping” and “shunning”-policy, the house-to-house-canvassing directive disguised as a “Christian command”, the ridiculous “reporting of field service hours”-directive, her artificial and Bible-twisting “God’s organization” and “faithful and discreet slave”-constructs, etc. Instead, they “strain out a gnat and swallow a camel”. They “judge another man’s servant” by conveniently hiding the fact that they themselves are a MUCH WORSE servant to the master they claim to represent.

    Christmas is a truly beautiful thing, as are Easter, and the expression of happiness and gratitude for the fact that a loved one has been born, commonly called “Birthday Celebration”. All this smart-ass small-minded bickering about “What do eggs have in common with Jesus”, and “Only pagans did celebrate birthdays” – OOOH COME ON, GIMME A BREAK!

    A free thinker.

    • BigB says:

      @ Free Thinker:

      Firstly, this was a great article about the trepidations of starting or restarting the xmas holidays.

      After no celebration of any holidays since 1959, when my parents decided to become JW’s, the setting up of a tree and decorating it felt quite strange. This makes the second xmas celebrated since my fade back in 2013!

      Anyway, I digress. What you have written Free Thinker is absolutely correct. The attitudes displayed are indeed “smart ass and small minded” religious bigotry and come from very unhappy, unproductive and mentally stiffled people.

      Unfortunately, their “better than thou” self gratifications will catch up with them in the near future when they realize, on their death bed, just how much of life they missed out on. That realization will, when it comes, and it will come is too sad for them to comprehend.

  15. Winston Smith says:

    Based on scripture, it really comes down to individual choice whether a Christian wants to celebrate Dec 25 as Jesus’ birthday or not: Romans 14:5-6 “One person considers one day to be above another day. Someone else considers every day to be the same. Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind. Whoever observes the day, observes it for the honor of the Lord. Whoever eats, eats for the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is for the Lord that he does not eat it, yet he thanks God.”

    The Watchtower ban on Christmas, therefore, is another example of their man made rules and undue influence on the lives of their members. The effect this has on children is to help isolate them from the rest of the world from a young age. It makes them feel like outcasts and it provides a high level of control and influence as they grow up.

    Great article that captures the sentiments of many exJWs. Since I have faded but my wife is still in, Christmas celebrations continue to be forbidden in my home. However, I have a close nonJW friend who often invites me to participate in the holidays with his family. I appreciate the akwardness that you sometimes feel as related in the article, but I find that over time it fades away.

    WS

  16. Hardy says:

    It’s a bad idea to lie to your kid about it. I’m still sad my mom lied to me about Santa. She lied to me about it after I figured out on my own he wasn’t real. When I asked her if Santa was real she didn’t realize I was old enough to figure it out on my own. I was seven years old at the time. Theses days I want to kill Santa because I don’t like being forced to spend money on presents people don’t like. I’ve given underwear, socks, maxipads as gifts. I really have done that. I really have. I’m a man – so maxipads don’t bother me. I want to kill Santa.

    • factsnotfiction says:

      Reports have just come in!! Santa’s Slay has gone down over the Sinai Peninsula. It is believed someone had planted a Bomb in a box of Maxipads. It wasn’t you was it Hardy??

  17. David Angeletti says:

    Thank you Lydia for sharing this powerful story. 12 years of freedom now and the last one has probably been my first Christmas I have understood and felt the true spirit of it. You’re not alone.

  18. JBob says:

    Ah, the Greetings for the Season, …

    There are a number of fundamentalist Protestant church groups which (and deriving from the same sources) eschew Xmas and oher “pagan” holy days. It goes back to the infamous (once distributed by Wt Inc) “The Two Bablyons (The Papal Worship Proved to Be the Worship of Nimrod and His Wife)” book by Hislop. Until the 1980’s Watchtower’s research and proof quotes against celebrating the holidays and mingling with other churches relied heavily on the Hislop book with supportive verses here and there, as usual. Around 1997, a critique and refutation of the methodologies and proofs in the book was written by Lester Grabbe and additional critiques have been coming forward to discredit the premise that all things Catholic derive from ancient Babylon. “Two Babylons” (first edition, 1853, but revised up to 1903 editions and 1919) is not the first book or scholar to make the link to ancient Babylon or to tie the common myths of current religions back to ancient religions. However, it was used extensively it seems to banish Christmas, birthdays, Easter and Lent, etc. There are some websites which show picture-proof that up to 1920’s Christmas and perhaps Easter were BIG TIME celebrations at headquarters. The Watchtower masthead sported a great big “-|-” and multiple subtle crosses up and down its “guiding light” watch tower on the cover–the infamous Tammuz “T”. (yes, after the “chosen” date as written in the February 2017 Watchtower Study edition, which is reason to article/blog of itself).

    Watchtower will counterpoint BEFORE and AFTER this they protested in front of churches and roared “Get out of Babylon” against the Catholic and Protestant organized religions. But, the impetus for this came from the Second Adventist “mentors” of Russell. Research shows that an early associate and adapter of the Millerite chronology and message came out with the sermons on Revelation 18 explaining “Come out of her my people”.

    So, based on the words of _a_ man, millions now living follow and don’t think on the countering words written in the Bible at Romans 14:6?

  19. GEM says:

    @ Freethinker: I have to agree with Winston Smith.

    If I was baby Jesus, I would be spinning in my crib this time of year…at what is being done in my name. The JWs always taught me to do all things for the glory of God. Jesus did the same when partying… water into the best of wine… loaves and fishes to feed the masses. There was no mention of fuelling drunkenness and opportunities for unfettered fornication. If a Christian does something to be joyful, he or she acts in modesty and will aim to display all those qualities expected of someone following in the footsteps of the Christ.

    Trust the WT to enforce the gloom imposed by the Church of Rome who managed to remove the letter “R” out of the word Celebrate!

    To all my Scottish friends…Hope you are recovering from a well plastered Hogmanay…thanks for being honest to Your National celebration. Don’t leave us Scotland!

    Love from South of the border.

  20. JWIntellect says:

    Beautifully penned article!

  21. Whip It says:

    We get together with a few selected/trusted friends & enjoy the day, we know that certain ones would look down on us & probably worse, i am happy to say to people hope you have a happy xmas, to many rules, who cares, i always enjoy this time of the year, time of work great weather & enjoy, so much guilt on having to much fun, we have a CO visit soon & i note that they always change the midweek meeting from the normal wednesday to tuesday, we have shift workers who have worked hard to get wednesday nite of, only to be criticized for working tuesday nite, anyway happy new year, oh yeah we are getting closer u know.

  22. James Broughton says:

    I often use the following quote with JWs: “Even though Christmas is not the real anniversary of our Lord’s birth, but more properly the annunciation day or the date of his human begetting (Luke 1:28), nevertheless, since the celebration of our Lord’s birth is not a matter of divine appointment or injunction, but merely a tribute of respect to him, it is not necessary for us to quibble particularly about the date. We may as well join with the civilized world in celebrating the grand event on the day which the majority celebrate – ‘Christmas day.'” (Zion’s Watch Tower  Dec 1st 1904 page 364).
    If they say they got it wrong back then, I usually reply, “What do you think you are getting wrong now?”

  23. messenger says:

    Hi Lydia,
    You know the angels celebrated Jesus’ birth. Did you see at Job 1:4 that each one of Job’s sons celebrated his own special day, most likely their birthdays?
    Best wishes!

    • Amby says:

      But that was not a birthday anniversary and they gave no gifts to each other, spending money. After -all, persons have only on actual day of birth and the mother deserves remembering and celebrated for doing most of the painful nine months and delivery work, making a birth possible, like the dad who contributes his part and provides the homestead and paying for the mom’s nutrition. Why are they not honored on ‘birthday’ anniversaries!

  24. Jade brwn says:

    I luckily was never baptized, and my mom wasn’t in the religion, but was devorced, but my dad’s teachings still got into my head. To be perfectly honest, once I got older, and was considering serving Jehovah, I felt guilty when I celebrated, because I thought I was doing something wrong. At the same time, I wanted my mom to be happy, and I liked the gifts, so I kept doing it. One time when I was younger, I had a panic attack because I had got a dora the explorer doll, and it was truly what I wanted. I felt so many conflicting feelings that I couldn’t express at the time. I just broke down. I still have issues because of the feelings caused by my mom being a Buddhist, and my dad being a JW. My biggest fear for a long time was losing my mom at Armageddon. Anyway, after my Grandmother died, I suggested we celebrate Kwanza instead, because it had more meaning. That allowed me to listen to Christmas songs and feel the magic again, but it was because I wasn’t doing it, so it must be better. This year I celebrated Christmas for the first time in 6 years, and I still didn’t feel the magic. Although, I was so grateful to have my family. I had been gone to a school for the blind for 6 years, and only got to see them on breaks, like christmas, some weekends, summer, and easter. Also, spring break, if we didn’t get too many snow days. I’d learned to be grateful for any time of celebration, because that’s the only time we’d all be together.

  25. Maria says:

    Everything you said is so TRUE,!!!

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