How Do You Celebrate?

Brent Finnegan -- December 24th, 2010

How do you celebrate the holidays — Christmas in particular?

Christmas tree on Court Square in Harrisonburg. Photo by Randy Lowery.

Christmas tree on Court Square in Harrisonburg. Photo by Randy Lowery.

EMU professor Heidi Miller Yoder was quoted in a New York Times story about Christmas outside the mainstream. She says some Mennonites, along with certain other Christian groups, tend to take an alternative approach.

Heidi Miller Yoder, an assistant professor of religion at Eastern Mennonite University, in Harrisonburg, Va.: “Some Mennonites have been very intentional about spending no more than $100 on Christmas gifts. It’s a movement not only within the Mennonite Church but within the larger Christian church.

“Other families have deliberately said, ‘We will only do homemade gifts.’ In my extended family, we donate gifts instead, and for the children, we do give them some gifts, realizing that it’s adults who distinguish between needs and wants, and they are learning to do that.”

How do you feel about the commercial/consumer nature of Christmas? If you’re not Christian, do you still celebrate it?


10 Responses to “How Do You Celebrate?”

  1. Ross says:

    For the past few years all our local family meets at Jess’ #1 on Christmas Eve. It’s convenient for those who went to the early Church services, or those who go to the late service.

    My brother-in-law’s friend has been going for 38 Christmas Eve’s in a row.

    Merry Christmas to one and all, God bless you and your families.

    (No, we did not use Jess’ parking lot)

  2. Bona Saturnalia, denizens of Hburg news.

  3. Delataire says:

    May the holiday, however you may celebrate it, be happy.

  4. Brooke says:

    Tonight we had our first (planned) Christmas at home.

    We started our family tradition of sitting in the living room, with the Christmas tree for light, and my husband reading the Nativity Story from Matthew and Luke while some of the more contemplative Christmas carols (Lo, How a Rose Ere Blooming, Of the Father’s Love Begotten, I Wonder as I Wander, Coventry Carol, etc.) played in the background. We just sat and thought and talked about the meaning of Christmas for a while, while the music played on, and then we went into the kitchen for cookies and homemade hot chocolate.

    I was wondering if the kids “got it” and then our youngest, who is 4, asked her older brother if he wanted to go get their blankets from the “room where we worshiped.” I thought it was the perfect way to ring in Christmas.

    As for the commercialization, we’ve wanted to nip that in the bud before the kids grow to expect a huge pile of extravagant gifts each year under the tree. Each year, with the extended family growing ever larger (I have 7 siblings) it becomes harder to buy for everyone and not ended up buying cheap-o junk no one needs, and probably doesn’t want, either. So we asked the Aunts and Uncles not to give us anything, and instead, if they feel lead to give, donate that money to a charity or donate a toy to Toys for Tots. We took the money we ordinarily would end up spending on extended family, and chose a charity to donate to. For our kids we pick a couple affordable things we know they really want, and a couple things we know they need, and that’s Christmas. We usually have a couple things the family can use together, too. The focus stays on Christ, the reason for our celebration, and on giving to others, but they still get some treats, too.

    Of course as the kids get older, that may not work as well, but thus far they seem to “get it” and we’re hoping that the traditions can stay focused on Christ and giving to others rather than on what we’re going to get. :-)

  5. Nicholas D.S. says:

    For a different shade of this same conversation, check out comments on the Christmas culture wars from editor Jeremy W. Yoder and other respondents over on Eastern Mennonite Seminary’s blog “Work and Hope”:

  6. Brooke says:

    Excellent article – thanks for sharing it, Nicholas!

  7. Not at First Night for New Year’s Eve in Harrisonburg this year for the first time in 18 years, unfortunately.

  8. Ross says:

    HAPPY NEW YEAR! The wife and I will stay at home tonight and watch the ball drop at midnight on TV. We will order take out food and I’ll have a few Budweiser’s to wash it down. Have fun and be safe. See you next year.

  9. Brooke says:

    Happy New Year, everyone!

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