An Exclusive Brethren Christmas
Have you left a cult or religious sect? Share your story
In my Exclusive Brethren house, Christmas was not allowed.
As a child growing up I missed the Christmas tree and the beautiful lights. I wondered what it was like to wake up Christmas morning with the anticipation of gifts waiting to be opened. Our relatives who were not Brethren kindly sent us Christmas cards. We were instructed by our parents to lie them flat - standing up was too flashy.
Christmas Day was just like any other day. There were no mouth watering food. It was years before I tasted eggnog or enjoyed Christmas baking of any kind. I heard the beautiful Christmas carols sung in our classroom at school but I was not allowed to take part in any Christmas celebrations at school so I sat in the classroom alone.
At home the house was silent. No carols or Christmas stories, not even the one about Jesus' birthday. Christmas Day felt cold and empty, void of any joy.
Exclusive brethren say they know Jesus was God's son, but do not celebrate his birthday as it is believed to be a worldly occasion. Instead, they choose to ignore the day.
If Christmas was on Sunday, we went to meeting as usual. Christmas was not mentioned at all.
One year I was allowed to visit my grandmother during the Christmas holiday. I was warned by my parents to not look at the worldly things of Christmas in my grandmother's house. When I arrived at her house, I felt like I had entered a wonderland.
There was a Christmas tree and shining lights and the beautiful balls of all colours and sizes. The house smelled wonderful as cookies baked in the oven.
Christmas presents were wrapped in beautiful coloured paper, waiting for me to open them. Christmas carols played in the background on the radio.
Feelings of warmth and comfort washed over me. How could all this be wrong when it brought so much joy, I asked myself?
I realised that there was another world outside of brethren life, a world that wasn't all wrong or bad, instead a world of much right and good!
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