A mother gave her two children the freedom to choose their religion when they turned 13.
One remained a Christian with the rest of the family, while the other chose a different religion: one that does not include the traditions that come with Christian holidays.
When one of the teenagers said they were exploring Buddhism, she was denied the receiving Christmas presents, since those who follow Buddhism don't partake in the Christian gift-giving ritual for religious reasons, but many people from non-Christian religions and atheists participate in gift giving for the cultural side of Christmas.
Let's face facts.
Much like the Christian observance of All Hallows Eve went mainstream as Halloween, the pervasiveness of Christmas in popular culture morphed it from a strictly religious event like All Hallows Day and the Feast of the Epiphany to something more like Easter where secular activities like egg hunts and secret Santa exchanges at work dominate the holiday more than going to church.
Does revoking the privilege of Christmas presents make you a mean one, Mrs. Grinch? Mom wants to know and asked Redditors to weigh in on the AmItheA$$hole subReddit, in which users bogged down by a guilty conscience ask readers if they are wrong.
"christmasconfusion" started off by writing about how she and her husband raised their children to be Christians.
"My husband and I have two kids (both teenagers). We raised our children to be Christian (as is our faith), but also didn't want to force them into our religion so as soon as they turned 13 they were allowed to no longer come to church, participate in saying grace before meals, etc."
"One of our kids has continued with church and their faith very adamantly. Our other kid has come to church more sporadically and over the past half-year or so has began to explore Buddhism."
"More recently they have been telling us that they are no longer Christian, but they are Buddhists. While we are disappointed that they are no longer Christian, I believe everyone is entitled to their own religion and I am proud that my daughter is exploring her faith."
So far, so good.
However, the yuletides were turning with a catch: the daughter would learn that her decision comes with consequences.
"At dinner recently we were talking about travel plans for Christmas (we usually will rent a cabin somewhere for family time) and I mentioned that I wasn't planning to get our non-Christian daughter any big gifts since her religion doesn't celebrate Christmas."
"She was immediately upset. I told her that I would get her some little goodies so she didn't feel too left out, but that she shouldn't expect to partake in a religious holiday for a religion she doesn't believe in."
"She said (in so many words) it's not fair for us to spend money on our other child's gifts, but not her and that we were punishing her for not being Christian."
The mom believed in not buying presents for someone who no longer believed in Jesus, but offered other options that did not suit her daughter.
"It doesn't make sense to me to give her gifts to celebrate the birth of Jesus when she doesn't believe he is our savior. I told her if she really felt it were unfair, I would donate the amount of money I spent on our other kid to a charity of her choice in her name."
"She didn't like this either. My husband and I have since talked and he has very mixed feelings on the whole situation."
So, is mom the a$$hole?
"Edited to add: not sure if this matters, but I have made it clear to her that if she ever wanted to celebrate any holidays pertaining to her religion I would do my best and get her what she needs to celebrate. My goal is not to hinder her exploration of Buddhism."
In response to the confusion over the holiday's religious origin, she responded by explaining how she puts the Christ in Christmas.
"I see a lot of comments about how Christmas isn't a Christian holiday and I agree that many families celebrate a very commercialized Christmas."
"We (for example) do not involve Santa in our celebration, but we do (for example) read from the Bible and sing Hymns. Regardless of what others do, our family takes the holiday as an opportunity to celebrate and thank God for all that he has done and provided for us."
One user in the comments interpreted the "no presents" policy a different way.
"YTA and you know damn well you're doing that as a petty/passive aggressive way to express to your child that you are in fact not supportive of them making their own decision about religion if it isn't your preferred religion."
"Also I came from a Christian upbringing, when was the last time anyone ever thanked 'god' or 'jesus' for their presents? Everyone knows those come from Santa." – iLuvTopanga17
"Absolutely this. OP KNOWS DAMN WELL what they're doing. The typical pressuring of religious parents under a thin forced smile of -im 'proud' they have their own beliefs- then -oh btw were giving your sibling all these gifts during a family holiday and you get jack s**t cuz you're a blasphemer' total a$$hole. 100% a$$hole." – EvilAnnie25
Another declared mom the a$$hole.
"I remember the part in the Bible where Jesus said 'only give gifts to people who believe in me' so clearly... wait."
"You may celebrate Christmas in a religious way, but you know damn well it is a secular holiday. In fact, you probably know there were holidays like Yule and Saturnalia on this date long before Jesus was born."
"You're definitely punishing your kid, and you're being dishonest with yourself about it, and you're making everyone who sees you act this way feel more negatively about Christians than they did before. Triple YTA." – kayefayette
Others talked about how they celebrate Christmas as more of a family tradition than a religious one.
"Right lol? I'm a culturally christian atheist that celebrates Christmas because my equally atheist family (or at least that I know) does and always has."
"It is 100% secular for us and we do not even breathe a word about god or jesus. It's about the family time, the food, and the presents. I doubt my youngest brother (5) even knows its connection to any religion or what religion even is." – twinkprivilege
“The gift giving is pagan in origin anyway. Festivals of light and gifts go way back, Christians jumped into them to grow the religion, not because they had any sincere religious urge about those traditions." - stink3rbelle
“YTA. Christmas is a cultural and family celebration as well. My white in-laws don't even know what the Mid-Autumn Festival is and I still brought moon cakes to share in case they wanted to celebrate with me. They know I'm not Christian but very generously involve me in their Christmas Day." - RamenHands
“Plenty of people celebrate the Christmas season with gift-giving even though they don't celebrate the religious aspects of the holiday. This sounds like a malicious compliance act, not the act of a loving, supportive parent who is proud that her daughter is exploring her faith." – BaffledMum
In response to the comments, the mom acknowledged that she has "some growth to do as a mother and Christian" and emphasized the love for both her daughters and plans to discuss the thread with her.
"I hear you all and I know I have a lot of reflection ahead of me. Even though some of this is hard to read, I really do appreciate you all taking the time to respond."
"I think my family has a lot of discussion ahead of us and I specifically have some growth to do as a mother and Christian."
"I also want to let those of you who have voiced concerns know that both of my children are loved by my husband and myself and that I plan on talking with my daughter (maybe even showing her this thread) about how I can do better by her."
We are looking forward to an update as to how that discussion went.
Hopefully they can reach nirvana.
The book No-Nonsense Buddhism for Beginners: Clear Answers to Burning Questions About Core Buddhist Teachings is available here. Makes a great Christmas gift.
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