As one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christmas had to be one of the most taboo holidays of the year…right up there with Easter and Halloween. So, for many former members it is a giant hurdle to overcome when joining the rest of mainstream society which celebrates Christmas. I know some who still do not celebrate the holiday, but it’s based on a personal decision, not religious pressure. Some now have a traditional Christian Christmas, while others celebrate more of a Yuletide festival or winter solstice. And, yet others like me, have a very secular Christmas with no religious aspect to the holiday. My own celebration focuses on family, doing for others, a time of rest and regeneration for my gardens, and looking forward to a new year. (And, if you spied the angel atop my tree and judge me a hypocrite, I’ll tell you that this was made especially for me by a friend, and I honor him by adding it to my tree. I have many angels, all given to me by special friends. They are all displayed with a grateful heart.)
What is really beautiful to me, however, is how many former JWs are making their own traditions–new traditions. In the Ex-Jehovah’s Witness Recovery Group on Facebook, I’ve seen dozens of photos folks have shared of their Christmas trees. I even saw one where someone had been caroling for the first time. Many have commented on how excited they are to have their very first tree, or how thrilled they are to be able to do this for their children, as they remember what their own childhoods were like having to abstain from all the joys of this beautiful holiday–trees, lights, decorations, presents, fun with family and friends.
I well remember my first Christmas where I expected lightning to strike me dead at any moment. Of course, this was the old JW programming wreaking havoc on my emotionally battered soul. What a shame that anyone has to feel an ounce of guilt for celebrating such a beautiful holiday–no matter what meaning the holiday has for you.
So, for all of you who are newly out from under Watchtower oppression, I toast your good fortune, and wish you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS! Enjoy the season.