NOTE: This article is also in the November/December 2022 Issue 9 of Torah Sisters Magazine. Get it quick while it’s still available in print!
Ask the Torah Sisters – Do you have any advice for new Torah Keepers for Quitting Doing Christmas with Extended Family?
The first year is the hardest. It can be scary and hard but trust there will be blessings and peace as you walk through it. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, peace will come. -Coley
They look at me like I’m crazy but I give them the seekingscripture.com. Link and tell them to read it for themselves. Don’t take my word for it. I completely agree with Christy that you have to get into the scripture yourself and see what he reveals to you. It is your walk. And her quote that your calling was not a conference call!! I love that! -Barbra
Remain strong and remember, that it is more important to please God than it is to please man. In all things, hold on to truth because that is the best testimony for your family. My mom has said my conviction and unwavering position has been convicting for her. -Jenn
Be proactive about finding other special times to connect with them instead – so you’re not just left with a giant void. That might look like inviting them to feasts if they’re willing to come see what they’re like, or just creating a random reason to be together and make memories. -Kayte
Be gentle, people don’t like to give up their holidays. Lead by example, let them ask questions, and then answer in a loving way. -Sam
Prayer for guidance and for the heart of loved ones to be touched with understanding and then having a quiet, brief, but intentional conversation. Politely sharing your beliefs is a great way to handle this issue. Also, being prepared for giving the Biblical/historical reasons for your conviction is a plus. Be prepared to stand your ground, firmly, in the midst of pushback from beloved relatives and friends. However, do so with love, even in your firmness. Remember, this is to honor your Creator. Prepare to do this ahead of the holidays if possible, to give loved ones time to deal with the shock/disappointment. This will show mercy and graciousness on your part. Be encouraged, as you are not alone. -Joyful
Christmas day is the slowest day on the ski slopes. -Amanda
I would say to definitely pray about how and when you have that conversation. I prayed for an open door and He gave it. I think prayer is key. Not everyone will do it the same way. Be led by the Holy Spirit. -Karen
My family just kinda laughed it off at first but asked more questions every year. It did not take long and my mom and sisters joined me. -Jarad
Pray, have patience, and be loving. Oftentimes our families grieve us changing just as much as we grieve them participating. They don’t understand, and only God Himself can open eyes and hearts. -Paige
It’s okay to mourn. But stay strong. There are blessings that abound from being set apart. -Carrie
Choose not to be worried about what other people think. Some people aren’t going to like it and that’s okay. Obeying the Father is more important than pleasing people. -Sarah
My husband gently reminded me when I was trying to find a way to join my mother for Xmas by saying, there are 364 other days of the year you can go and have supper with her. He wasn’t wrong. -Jennie
Be prepared for people to tell you that not keeping Easter and Christmas means they don’t believe in Christ’s redeeming love… so be prepared to share the goodness of first fruits and sukkot that point to the same things but are actually biblical. -Kara
Do it well before the holiday. Emotions run higher around that time. -Hester
We can do a big family cookout or get together later on and throughout the year we don’t have to wait until that day! Plus we can give gifts of love for each other throughout the year as we see something we know one of us would like or need it doesn’t have to be reserved for that day and time only. -Living Waters
As someone who tried it two ways with the family…… set hard boundaries early and explain what is going on with as much love as you can but hold strong it will save you heartache later. -Crystal
Be gentle, loving, and firm. It’s possible to honor everyone but maintain your convictions. “My convictions are not your condemnation. I’m walking out what the Father has convicted ME of, I need to stand strong in that.” -Kristin
Set your boundaries early on. It’s harder to phase out than to cut out cold turkey. -Briana
Avoid using the word “pagan.” We used it as trying to explain what we had come to understand in Scripture. In hindsight, we could’ve done better. We were so new to everything and we truly did not know that would be as offensive as it was. We had a whole new understanding of what “pagan” meant, but it did not translate well. -Anna
Replace the unholy with the holy! Don’t leave a void of sadness around Christmas time. Fill it with the good, pure and righteous! We do Hanukkah as our Messiah did and we go BIG! We love decorating, making Hanukkah cookies, lighting the candles, and making it a special feast for the whole family. And you can still celebrate the birth of Messiah! Do it during Sukkot! The feasts bring so much more joy, love, and peace because they are days the Father is pleased with and commands us to commemorate! Replace counterfeit joy with real joy! -Anna
Make it clear that you not participating is not you condemning them. One of the biggest obstacles I ran into was people feeling judged because my husband and I chose to do things differently. -Jennifer
We tried the “just join the dinner” thing. It produced no fruit at all. Father convicted us to stop compromising. This is when some fruit finally started to be produced. Just make the break. Family will be irritated, expect it. You can gather with them on other days of the year but if you don’t break the tradition of gathering on these pagan days it will not impact those you love. It produces nothing but confusion. -Renee
Invite the family to all the Feast celebrations. By the time Xmas rolls around, they will have seen enough of you. Be sure to make the Feast observances fun and very rich in meaning-something that Xmas often lacks with its over-the-top commercialism and unmet expectations. -Joanna
Best advice, make all the other holidays special. We decorate a lot for Thanksgiving and the feasts. Find activities for the children and family to do together. For birthdays, we do a birthday week. It gets easier, we’re 7 years in of not celebrating Christmas. We enjoy not being stressed or in debt. I also send meaningful/ homemade gifts throughout the year to family and friends. -Lisa
Family is important. Share from a humbled heart that you love them dearly. You would love to get together any other time of the year but when you discovered the roots of the pagan holidays, you couldn’t continue. Set up some non-holiday times to hang out and do something special together. Shine your light and stand firm in your foundation so they will prayerfully follow. -Natalie
#1 Celebrate God’s feasts. It helps to fill the void of giving up treasured traditions. I know they’re pagan traditions but the warm fuzzies don’t always go away with knowledge. Celebrating biblical feasts helps build new and better traditions and memories.
#2 Take a trip somewhere during Christmas or Easter (or whichever holiday held the most meaning for you). I knew it would be hard for me to be home when I knew my family was all together for Christmas. The first few years we took our youngest children on a little vacation and had a great time. After a while, we didn’t need this distraction.
#3 Be consistent. Your loved ones might never agree with your decisions but hopefully, they will respect your dedication to your new beliefs. -Lisa
Do the tabernacle festival in a more grandeur way than Christmas. -Vinaya
Thank you for posting all the comments, it means a lot. We are about 4 years in with not celebrating Christmas, Easter, and Halloween. The younger children are starting to understand more each year. We started celebrating Hanukkah and we’re trying to present feast days as best as we can. It’s a learning process for sure. I do like thanksgiving and birthdays. We have 6 children. My husband and I collide a little here, but I don’t feel any conviction during these times. We make sure not to idolize anything during these times. Shalom
I love this great advice, thank you! I just learned recently that Thanksgiving and birthdays are pagan traditions as well so am making those changes. Look into it. Yah bless you!
Shalom from another Rivkah,
Thanksgiving was actually instituted by the puritans (based on researchable source documents) in an effort to recreate Sukkot in their community. The Thanksgiving story that is largely strewn about this time of year comes from our pagan school system that likes to promote that the founding of this country was not biblical. Cannot speak to birthdays, but Thanksgiving definitely does not have pagan origins.
Ceres is the Roman goddess of agriculture. She is the reason for the Thanksgiving season, just like Tammuz is the reason for the Chridtmas season. I’ve read that New York Times article about the dark history of Thanksgiving, and, while it’s quite accurate, the source is a huge turn off for me as well as my family. Ron with Truthunedited has a great video about Thanksgiving’s true origins. Like many here, I merely believed it was a national holiday, not a pagan holiday. I’ve since changed my ways.
Here’s the video:
What is the seekingscripture.com link that was referenced? I tried looking it up, but I don’t know what I’m searching for
Sorry! It’s a website at https://seekingscripture.com/ I updated to make the link clickable.
Thanks! Is there something specific you’re directing people to on that site?
This is the first year I am facing this, even though we haven’t celebrated Xmas for years and my sons were taught early on in life that “J” wasn’t born in December. Religion wasn’t a part of the day.
But now that they are grown and I am living in my oldest son’s home I am finding that handling this with my new DIL, who LOVES to decorate, is a bit of a hiccup. I am the only Torah Keeper in the family. The last few years it was just a day off for everyone and we played games and cooked. This year is a “sticky wicket”. I may just go to GA for a month. LOL
I’ve read the Bible in it’s entirety several times now. I observe the Holy Days and follow God’s Law to the best of my ability…I fail some days, but that’s where grace comes in. Before I read my Bible in it’s entirety, I was celebrating Christmas and Easter…because I loved Jesus. My journey is not someone else’s journey. I have close family members and friends who celebrate Christmas…I don’t reprimand them for doing so. They love Jesus….so do I. So I show love and patience and celebrate with them when invited to their Christmas parties. Forcing my convictions on them is not Christ-like,so I choose the lesser of the 2 evils…(1. Celebrating Christmas with family and friends who love Jesus, or 2. avoiding friends and family during Christmas) …in order to pursue peace love, and unity with my neighbors, friends, and family. I pray about this all the time. I know for certain that the Holy Spirit will help me if I am missing the mark.
Thank you for all the tips and experiences. It has been 21 years for me to be TO, probably 16 years of not celebrating C & E, and there is no respect from extended family. They aren’t interested in what I believe either. They are probably thinking I have works-righteousness. I have to say ‘whatever’ . I must please my God and honor my husband. Stay strong sisters.