Post # 17
The religious aspect of Christmas has very little to do with Santa and gift giving. Gift giving being the topic at hand, has very little to do with the birth of Jesus, unless you are giving each other Frankincense and Myrrh, in which case almost implicates that you think of yourself as the Son of God.
I’ve been all over the country and Christmas is the same everywhere. There may be a cross or two hanging somewhere but overall it has very little to do with Jesus’s birth, which didn’t even HAPPEN in December.
Post # 18
I am not Christian but I believe in Santa Clause . I love Christmas even though I am not religious. I love giving gifts and recieving and eating all the yummy treats. Since, I am not religious I have no idea how you feel as someone who practices a religion that does not celebrate Christmas.
Post # 19
What does your Fiance think of it?
I still say try to insist that they donate in your name or something, that’s very Christian-esque and then your not stuck with a bunch of junk.
Post # 20
Hi! I’m not religious and neither is my bf but our families celebrate and so do we. It’s more of a tradition that I still enjoy. Plus, a lot of the things that religious and non religious people celebrate at Christmas, those traditions, are often pagan and not religious – so you can see that religious people adopt the pagan or non religious part of Christmans and non-religious people adopt the religous part of Christmas – I think it evens out. 🙂 I happen to looove giving gifts and unless a friend and I decide ‘no gift exchange’ then I give, give, give even though the holiday is not one that I may be religiously connected to. I give my Jewish friends Hanukah presents even though I’m not Jewish and give family Kwanza gifts even though I don’t celebrate. I like to think of it as a blending of cultures, traditions and peace between them. Perhaps if you think of it this way, you’ll feel better?
Also, I think that you should FOR SURE include them in your spring gift giving tradition! It could be a way for them to feel included into your faith, a way for you to feel more evenly ‘gifted’ and maybe it would be a way for them to gain some understanding. Good luck.
Post # 21
There’s a religious Christmas and a secular Christmas. Are you comfortable with Christmas traditions in the secular sense?
If not, that’s okay. I agree with PP to allow the family to continue with their own traditions and beliefs, while you don’t have to actively reciprocate.
Post # 22
*palms face* He’s a boy and boys love toys. But now that we’re married things may change and he’ll be able to openly say that we’re not gifting them anything because I know he doesn’t intend to get them anything.
It comes down to a question of respect. Is it disrespectful to include someone in your tradition if they don’t agree? The last thing I want to do as a new bride and as someone who is trying to forge their own traditions is disrespect theirs. If they would find gifts from our religious events offensive, I don’t want to include them but it would be my instinct to do so.
To be MOST respectful of everyone’s faith, it seems, is to simply keep everything separate. I don’t participate in their Christmas and I don’t include them in my celebration. This is the same issue people of other faiths wrestle with a lot. I know that the Christian faith tells them that they should be pleasant and polite when exposed to other faiths, but their particular church is not open minded. They are fundamentalists.
That’s why I feel like I am being made to tolerate the one way street, because to include them in our faith is to shove it in their faces and make them upset.
Post # 23
Strangely, the more I think about it, the more I realize that the issue is one a PP mentioned above: if we mimick their gift-giving behavior, I believe it will feed the misconception that we may someday convert to their church. It’s becoming increasingly important for us to distinguish ourselves from them so that maybe they will finally understand. Including us in all their holidays does make us feel like they ignore the facts. They can ignore our faith – that’s actually expected – but it’s our feelings that are actually ignored.
To tell them we won’t even celebrate secular Christmas is a stab through the heart. However, it has to be done and I’m proud of my husband for thinking through to next month and planning what we will do and say to them. (We plan on suggesting going out for a nice dinner at a restaurant instead of their home.)
If I received a gift from a friend who knew I didn’t celebrate Christmas but wanted to gift me anyway, I would be very charmed and would do my best to make them feel appreciated because there is a mutual understanding there, isn’t there? Maybe I’m being two-faced, I’m not sure.
Post # 24
That’s definitely one way of looking at it and I tried that on for size last year. I can work really hard to make this thought pattern work if necessary.
Post # 25
@op’s question “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?”
we’re Jewish, but since Hannukah and Christmas are within the same month, and both have become gift-exchanging holidays, it’s basically all the same thing. if the timing was different, it’d be an issue… But, I think it makes sense for the gift to be given for the receiver’s purpose, not the giver’s, if that makes sense. Non-Jewish friends usually give us “Hannukah” gifts/cards, and we give them “Christmas”/generic holiday gifts/cards, since that’s what their celebration is. In that vein, I think it’d be appropriate to give your in-laws Christmas presents since it’s what they are celebrating (you can omit any reference to Christmas though and just say “happy holidays” or something if that makes you more comfortable). they should send you presents in the Spring, but since they’ll resist that, it’s probably a losing battle. You could say that you’ll open their gifts in the spring though and hope that gets the message across.
of course, this is tied into the larger issue of them not accepting or respecting your religious beliefs, which is a huge problem… but overall I think giving gifts is about acknowledging the other person’s traditions (or, it should be, imo…), and so sending them a small something should be fine.
Post # 26
I think that you are right that giving them gifts at your holiday would probably upset them. I don’t think it should, but it probably will. I think you don’t need to feel guilty about not reciprocating their Christmas presents. You have explained that you don’t celebrate Christmas and won’t be getting them gifts, and so if they get you gifts it is their choice. They probably like getting you gifts, and to tell them that they can’t would be taking something away from them. If you still feel guilty about the unevenness- what about sending them a random gift at a random time? Some weekend in February they get something from you saying, ‘thinking of you, thought you would like this’. Or you could get them birthday gifts or anniversary gifts, if you needed a reason.
Post # 27
OP: Are all of the gifts they send of a religious nature? I’m just trying to understand the connection between the gift and religion. For instance, if they are gifting you Bibles, then obviously I can understand your objection. But if they’re giving you a digital camera, then I don’t see how the gift = shared religious beliefs.
Post # 28
If these are your DH’s parents, why not let him handle it as he sees fit?
Post # 29
I didn’t read everyones responses, but my in-laws are christian and my SIL (their daughter) converted and is now Jewish. We are not religious but celebrate Christmas as it is about family- not religion.
We buy our niece (who is Jewish) a Christmas gift because that’s when we celebrate. It’s not meant to push our non-existent relgious views on her, it’s because we love her. I think you’re reading waaay too far into the gift thing *unless they’re showeing you with bibles and cross pendants*- it’s a tradition to gift their children things around the holiday’s- showering someone with gifts has absolutely nothing (in my opinion) to do with religion- they are trying to be nice to you. I think it would be nice to gift your in-laws something in return. It doesn’t have to be huge- parents don’t usually expected that sort of thing and call it a “holiday gift.” They’re family- it’s what you do. How are you any better than them if you can’t have an open mind?
Plus, I think a pretty box subtley wrapped with paper and a tag that reflects your religious beliefs is an awesome way to say “Hey- this is our religion.” Even better, invite them over for a Hanukkah celebration. They may enjoy it.
Post # 30
“We buy our niece (who is Jewish) a Christmas gift because that’s when we celebrate.”
“But, I think it makes sense for the gift to be given for the receiver’s purpose, not the giver’s, if that makes sense. Non-Jewish friends usually give us “Hannukah” gifts/cards, and we give them “Christmas”/generic holiday gifts/cards, since that’s what their celebration is.”
This is a critical disparity and it seems that people disagree on this issue.
The problem in my case is that if I participate in their Christmas for their sake, they refuse to reciprocate. I have invited them to our religious events and sent all the cards and emails, but it’s very plain that it’s not welcome.
I have had my absolute fill of attending their church for their benefit to be polite. I dated my husband for 10 years before we got married, so I have definitely put in my time. I really feel strongly that it is OUR time now. The subtle hints or polite conversations about our religious preferences yield nothing and so refusing to participate in the gift-giving is a HUGE sign. It’s not about the presents.
And it is not secular Christmas in their home, it bears repeating. It is very religious and by participating, we ARE signaling that we are willing to accept Christ.
My DH is slightly short-sighted, in my opinion. The moment he starts thinking about this issue is the moment his mother calls to say there’s a package in the mail. Too late. He is of the opinion that we should let the presents come and accept them, but I can’t do that.
Do you remember that feeling when someone gets you a Christmas gift and you didn’t get them ANYTHING? That HORRIBLE horrible awkward feeling that you didn’t get them anything? It’s that exact feeling. To receive gifts from them, even though we’ve asked nicely for none, is to be MADE to feel GUILTY.
Post # 31
As an aside, my husband did something similar to yours with the religion thing. My Brother-In-Law who is a serious baptist asked about my religion- he pretty much lied to him and said I was Christian. He did something similar with his parents early in our relationship- it caused issues very much like the one you’re going through. We even had people comment on how we were married by a Justice of the Peace- they were expecting a pastor. I felt disrespected. I felt like my in-laws were to blame, but my husband was to blame. He should have let people know the truth and dealt with the backlash himself. it sounds like yours needs to stand up for your beliefs. Celebrating Christmas with family is one thing, celebrating with people who are constantly pushing Christ in your life is annoying.You’re better than me, we’ve been invited to Christmas Mass several years and I’ve never gone because I’m not into it. I would love it if m SIL invited us to Hannukah one year 🙂