NWMR: religion and the holidays — The Bump
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NWMR: religion and the holidays

So my DH and I were both raised secularly and we also are raising our children this way. 

DH's grandma (who he hasn't seen since he was a small child) send us religious stuff in the mail, which we usually just ignore. This year she sent us an Advent wreath and candles, Jesus pencils and a whole booklet of religious tracts that she had typed up and bound for us. DH got annoyed and thinks that we should email her and tell her specifically that we aren't Christian. I feel like that might make her send us more religious stuff. But I feel guilty that she's putting so much time into sending us all this stuff that we aren't using and plus I feel like throwing away her Jesus pencils is probably bad luck. 

Any thoughts? If I had to define my "religion", I'd say I was agnostic with Buddhist tendencies, but try explaining that to an 85 year old Catholic lady...
IVF, acupuncture, meditation and a miracle. 

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Re: NWMR: religion and the holidays

  • CarrieB.CarrieB.
    Long-Lasting Membership 2500 Comments 500 Love Its Photogenic
    member
    edited November 2014
    alli2672 said:

    uhmm...I don't know if this is weird, but if you don't know what to do with the stuff, I will take it.  I will send you a check to reimburse you for shipping.  I had kind of been hoping DS would make an advent wreath at school, but it hasn't happened.  And he goes to a Catholic school that would probably use the Jesus pencils, or you could just donate it somewhere else.

    I don't know what to tell you about how to handle this, but I agree with you that trying to explain to an 85 year old lady that you disagree with her religion isn't going to get you very far. 


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  • I agree with @k3am that she probably finds joy in doing those things. I know I like giving gifts. At 85 she is going to do what she wants anyways. I don't see any reason to ruffle feathers.
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    [Deleted User]Beevol
  • emberlee3 said:

    Learning about different religions and cultures encourages tolerance.

    I agree with this. And this is important to us.

    We appreciate that DS's school celebrates and/or learns about a number of cultural and religious celebrations.
    Marla...the little scratch on the roof of your mouth that would heal if only you could stop tonguing it, but you can't.
  • WLJ2WLJ2
    Fourth Anniversary 100 Comments 25 Love Its Photogenic
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    edited November 2014
    I agree with everything PP have said.

    But if you feel you need to say something i would mail it back to her with a nice letter letting her know that you appreciate that she's thinking of you however you do not have the same beliefs as her. And if you want you can ask that she doesn't send them any more. That way you don't have to throw them away and you get your message across.
  • I think you need to educate your kids on religion in general and keep it as unbiased as possible. It teaches them respect for those not like them. I don't know the percentages, but there is a large religious population in our country and our kids would do well to be educated about it, even from a secular perspective. It will help them understand the world and people around them.
    [Deleted User]
  • Why hasn't he seen her since he was a child? Was there some falling out between her and his parents or something?

    That would influence how I would handle this. If there is bad blood there, then I might be more inclined to believe that she is coming from a disrespectful place, and so I might tell her to stop sending me that kind of thing.

    But if there isn't anything like that in the relationship, then I would assume she's an old lady with good intentions and time on her hands, and I would either treat it at a teachable moment or find a "special place" for all that stuff.




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  • To clarify, yes, of course, we will be educating our children on all religions. I went to a Catholic University and really appreciate all that I learned about religion. I do a lot of volunteer work with my university and think they do an awesome job with their mission. 

    You just have to understand that I'm coming from a place where all my life people (starting at kindergarten) have been trying to save me or tell me that I'm going to hell, so maybe I'm just being a little oversensitive to DH's grandma. I realize this is just her way of reaching out to us. 
    IVF, acupuncture, meditation and a miracle. 

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  • The good thing about Catholicism is that it's not particularly pushy in terms of trying to get people to convert. I know where you're coming from. We are secular (DH is a devout Atheist, lol) and live in the Bible Belt. I went to Catholic school after being raised as a Southern Baptist, and what struck me even as a 12 year old was how gentle Catholicism was. So I would guess she just assumes you guys are Catholic and sends stuff because it's how she knows to communicate. We have a family friend who is this way. She isn't trying to convert our kids, she honestly believes she's supplementing the materials we already have! Because her gifts come from a place of love, we just thank her and keep moving. If my insane Baptist mother did it, my reaction would be very different, because the gesture would be coming from a "trying to save you children from burning in hell like your parents" place.
  • Well, you are, right?

    (TOTALLY kidding - I went to a Baptist university and it took me over a decade after graduation to mellow a little bit from the down-your-throat xenophonic insanity from the uber conservatives there.  I can totally relate.)

    I would view them the same as any other trinket and handle them as such (I would probably do the wreath - the whole advent thing makes sense in a semi-secular way).  Don't attach such meaning - try to view this as no different than cow shaped salt and pepper sets or other kitschy well intentioned stuff.  Unless there really is judgment there, but it doesn't sound like it. 

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  • I would say I am in your same situation as far as my religious beliefs and how we are raising our children. However, DH was raised Catholic and his family is still very Catholic, but he is absolutely not. Although in the past I have been kind of indifferent to religion at best, recently I've decided that I probably need to educate my children on religion, whether or not we/they choose to believe it. DS started kindergarten this year and as Christmas approaches there have been conversations about Jesus among some of his playmates. I felt awful when he had zero idea who Jesus even was. I took this as an opportunity to teach him about religion in the context of diversity and tolerance. I ordered a few books about the life of Jesus and then ordered a few about religions and celebrations around the world. I think it is important that my kids understand religion, tolerance and how important and deeply spiritual some people are, if nothing else simply so they don't unknowingly offend someone. Even though I am not christian, I think the story of Jesus really teaches some good lessons about kindness and love. We celebrate Christmas, so I want him to understand that the story came from Jesus and is about giving, kindness etc. and that some people still worship Jesus.

    Anyway, my grandmother used to send me TONS of christian stuff when I was a kid and my parents usually said- grandma means well, you can watch the movies or play with the things if you want and make up your own mind. She felt like she was doing good for us, and that was what was most important to her in her final days here. Take the gifts, donate them or let your son use them and thank his grandmother. She is likely trying to let you know that she cares about your salvation and, to a christian, that is a way of saying she loves you and wants to see you in heaven. There is no need to let her know you won't be seeing her there.

    BeevolCarrieB.
  • We're Jewish with Christian family members and they us this stuff all of the time (and yes, they know we're Jews). I think it's a Christian thing, especially as they get older and are thinking about dying, heaven, etc and they get to wanting to save the rest of us or are just preoccupied with their own mortality. I take it as a sweet gesture and quietly rehome anything worth keeping. If it makes her happy then whatever, no need to make a stink. 

    It's great to learn about religious tolerance and plurality, but encouraging people to prosthelytize at you is the opposite of that in my book (especially when those people make up the majority religion in your area - it's not like she's Bahai or something). We do it before the kid knows something's come in the mail which helps avoid the "present" syndrome. If your kids are older, it could be a really good teachable moment about religious pluralism and the joys of being a target for prosthelytizers. 
  • I don't think the argument that non-Christians need to introduce their young children to Christianity holds any water.  I don't know any Christians who have introduced their five year olds to Buddha and the tenants of Islam.  Why does it go one way but not the other?

    I agree with Beevol -- being respectful of other people's beliefs does not mean you have to let them prosthelytize to you.  My father does this all this time.  I keep telling him we're not interested, he keeps sending us religious trinkets, I keep throwing them in a box in storage (it feels like bad juju to throw them away outright, and I don't know a single person that would want this stuff). Frankly, it's pigheaded and disrespectful of him. 
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  • This is probably going to be too much on the "one hand but on the other hand talk"

    I'm a Christian but I can see how this could be extremely disrespectful to OP's family. It's one thing to send a religious card on Christmas or Easter or whatever other holiday. That's the sender expressing themselves to everyone on their religious holiday (I tend to think if it as someone picking out a pack of 30 cards to send to everyone). But that's not with the grandmother did. She sent them hand-made books and an advent wreath. That's a bit far. 

    If you know (or even arguably if you should know) that someone isn't Christian and you send stuff like this unsolicited...well I think it's thoughtless at best.

    Again, though, she's an old lady. The grandmother may not be coming from an intentionally disrespectful place Unless there is some other reason to think the grandmother is trying to make a point or expressing a judgment. 

    But I will educate my kids about other faiths  in a general way just so they know what's going in in the world. If someone sent me a menorah, that's what I would do with it. However, I can appreciate that I don't get tons of non Christian religious stuff thrown at me all the time. Context means a lot. 

    For the record, In my church, when you go through confirmation at 12, you go through a year learning about what it means to be Methodist but you also spend time learning about different faiths-Christian and other. They visit and attend services or talks at a Jewish temple, Buddhist  temple, Catholic Church and a baptist and Presbyterian church. I found it absolutely fascinating when I did it. 

    I firmly believe that it is a good thing for everyone to do, but it's not nice to force stuff on your relatives. I excuse or ignore some, but not all, rudeness from old people though. 



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    rubber_chicken
  • I will chime in with my opinion.

    As a non Christian and a non secular( I'm Muslim, if you haven't figured that out from the pic ;) it would be weird for me to accept such gifts. I wouldn't return them though to someone who's that old and is doing it with kind intentions. I'd pass it on to some of my Christian friends and end the story there.

    As some of the other PPs suggested, she is really old so I don't see you having to handle this issue for many years to come alas.

    And to second one of the other PPs. As a Palestinian myself, my grandma comes from Nazareth one of the major Christian cities in Palestine, she isn't Christian though but she went to the rosary school of Nazareth (they are top notch when it comes to discipline) prior to their land being confiscated and them having to flea for their lives in 1948. She has nothing but love for her experience there and it actually made her super tolerant of other religions. She has a soft spot for anything and anyone Christian although she is a practicing Muslim believer. :) I think being around people of other beliefs makes you more tolerant but I absolutely understand how weirded out you would be for receiving such gifts and not wanting to expose your kids to using items of a different belief when you are trying to raise them secular or of a different belief so just give them to someone who'd appreciate them. It's a giving season anyway and kids of all faith could use learning to give 
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