- 11 years ago
- Wedding: February 2010
My husband and I are not Christian. I haven’t been Christian for more than 15 years (although I can honestly say that my experiences growing up Catholic were the most positive ever.) My husband’s mother and step-family are Protestant and their church practices baptism after acceptance of Christ – my husband never accepted Christ and thus was never baptised, so I suppose he never was Christian in their view.
My parents viewed religion as something culturally important but personally subjective. They felt religion was important for moral fiber but that the details were really very personal details that should not be discussed. As a result, when I chose another faith they didn’t even realize because I felt no need to “come out” to them as anything else. They knew my morals were in place, so there was no judgement.
My husband’s situation was quite different. He was turned off by the hypocricy of his church and the daily insistance from his mother that she didn’t want her precious baby to go to hell and that he needed to be baptised. When we met, he adopted my faith readily because it was in-line with his personal beliefs he had kept very secret.
He kept those beliefs very secret to his family until the day we got married, actually! Our ceremony was from our faith system and I’m sure his mother’s friends and relatives were quite confused – some were enraged and made their displeasure known to our officiant!
However, despite admitting to everyone we care about openly that we are not Christian (and I’ve mentioned casually to his mother in emails that we were going to have this or that religious holiday), I’m not sure his family understands that this is not a phase.
The issue at hand is Christmas. I have no ill will toward Christmas and neither does my husband. However, I’m having trouble handling Christmas gifts that his family sends. My family, due to circumstances, haven’t done much gift giving in the past few years, so I’ve been “safe” but last year my huband’s family showered us with gifts. He told his mother very politely that we would not be giving gifts because it is not in our tradition, but as it is THEIR tradition we were showered with gifts.
I was incredibly thankful and gracious and showed it outwardly to them, but I don’t think I can go for years on end accepting gifts. I feel like it’s not an issue of reasoning with them, because it seems like they give because it is the Season of Giving, you know? You give because it is your tradition, not because you feel like the other person should participate.
But what can I do? We live far far away now and so if we receive a giant box of gifts I don’t feel there is an easy/polite option. To repeat that we don’t celebrate sounds ingrateful, and to send them back would be terrible, but I do not want to simply receive gifts without exchange.
I guess the question is – is compromising and getting them something small to quiet my conscience too large a compromise?
If you’re Jewish and a Christian friend gifts you something because that’s what THEY do and it happens over and over, does it bother you? Do you feel guilty? Do you get them something small so the obligation passes?