Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Misgivings: Part 2

Ahh... the holidays! The packing up enough food and gear to keep a four year old and a 3 month old busy and taken care of for an entire day; the running to the store at 6 in the morning because the baby has been up since 3 to get a few last minute items for the day, the travelling way out into the sticks and wilderness to visit the hubby's family! *record screeching to a halt* Eeeerrrrt!

It has been an extremely long and trying day and I'm starting to understand why people choose to abstain from celebrating the holidays. For the most part, everything went fairly well. We didn't get much sleep as the baby was very much awake for the vast part of the early morning hours, but one double shot Starbucks vanilla iced coffee later and I was good to go. I packed up the huge bag for the kids with everything I could fathomly need for a day out and then some, we loaded up the young ones into the car and headed over to the Wade compound.

Since we actually got there early this year, they were just setting out the food which for once wasn't cold and badly prepared..... well... at least not ALL of it anyway. Tim's cousins were there and I really enjoy his cousins and his uncle and some of the out of town relatives and everything with the grandparents was going very well and polite .... AND THEN.... *sighs*

As I'm searching for butter for the B's roll, I get cornered in the kitchen by Tim's grandfather who then proceeds to ask me to bring both of my children to his church so that the congregation can pray over them. Now... listen: I am a very spiritually open minded person. I am trying to teach my children to be open minded and respectful of people and their differences in religious choices. But there are some areas where I draw the line. I never mind when people ask if they can pray FOR me or my family, but I have a huge problem with people wanting or trying to pray OVER me or ON me. I just kind of stood there, flabbergasted and taken unaware and feeling backed into a corner like a small furry animal about to be devoured. On the one side is the fox, and on the other is the pack of praying wolves.

If I say no, then his grandparents officially believe that I must worship the "debil" but I really, really, REALLY do NOT want to say yes. I CAN'T say yes and let me explain why. I do NOT have issues with prayer. I LOVE prayer. I pray all the time, every day. But I have issues with fanaticism in ANY religion. Extremists in any religion or philosophy are dangerous people and Tim's grandparents go to a church that is one snake handler away from being a creepy religious extremist group. (serious) Every time that Tim and I have attended with them I have been forced way outside of my comfort zone. I fail to feel anything spiritually moving when I'm surrounded by people who are screaming and twitching and blabbering "in tongues" (another issue for another time). I fail to find anything of God or divinity in that kind of carrying on.

As I said, I try to be open minded and respectful of other people's religious choices. I have never expressed my distaste or disagreement with Tim's grandparents over their beliefs. I have never tried to debate or negate their religious practices. That aside, I REFUSE to put my CHILDREN into a circle of GROWN ADULTS who will then scream and twitch and babble and touch them and "pray." That is certainly one traumatic experience that both of them will be better off without. The B, I KNOW would FREAK. The last time we attended a service with Tim's grandparents the woman in front of us was "moved by the spirit" and B, who was 2-2 1/2, kept asking two questions for the entire THREE HOUR service: 1) Can I go to the bathroom? (because she was smart enough to know I would not say no and she got to leave for five minutes) and 2) What is WRONG with that lady?? We are talking about a child who gets freaked if more than one person in the room is looking at her.

I ended up just muttering something about how I wasn't sure when we would be able to make it out there due to B having Sunday school at Mom's church on Sundays and her hating to miss it. (both true) And how I help with the youth choir on certain Sundays by providing piano accompaniment (also true). Then I had a brief frantic talk with Tim on the front porch after which he disappeared into one of the back rooms with his grandmother to discuss the state of our souls apparently. Basically this is coming from the trying to "save" our children's souls and being completely disrespectful and criticizing of our religious choices and practices.

Tim pretty much told her it was a no go, that it would scare the children and that it was unnecessary and that we simply did not believe in the same things as they do. She seems to think this is still open for discussion and that we all talk about this later. Tim told her that probably wouldn't be a good idea because she has a tendency to step on toes. He's right. This is not open for discussion and is not going to happen. I really hope that they don't continue to try to push the issue or I could just go another year and a half without visiting them in order to get my point across that I won't be bullied (the only thing that has worked in the past).

The long and short of it is this. If you/they want to pray FOR me and my kids every morning, every night, and sometimes in between, then YES! Do so! I am grateful! It's WONDERFUL and BEAUTIFUL and just amazing that you would do so. BUT, no one will be praying ON or OVER me or my kids. I just don't believe in that kind of "prayer." *sigh*

So after I was sufficiently "fit to be tied" and frustrated and offended... we gathered up the kiddos and headed over to Mamma's where Tim got irritated with me for bringing up the issue and discussing it with Mamma and Papa and my sisters and brother and kept trying to change the subject. Now we are finally home, really tired, cranky, and the baby STILL hasn't slept more than 20 minutes the entire day and all I can think about is... I REALLY want to put my Christmas tree up today. Happy Holidays!


Tammie said...

oy. what to say? eesh.

religion scares me. especially the hard core folks. but you know that. i think you did an awesome job of standing your ground though, your kids will thank you later. :)

(btw: ive been meaning to tell you, the blog i linked to the other day was by author Ayun Halliday and i really think you'd love her. she publishes a zine called The East Village Inky, that you can get online but she also has some books too that i highly suggest. shes a total hippie/progressive, liberal momma. my favorite books of hers are The Big Rumpus and Dirty Sugar Cookies. Dirty Sugar Cookies is a mix of anecdotal essays and recipes. anyway, i just really think youd love them both.)

Karen said...

Hey, it wouldn't be the holidays if somebody didn't insult your religion and try to force their weird boundary issues on you. Seriously though, I think you and Tim did the best you could. I can't imagine what you're "supposed" to do in that kind of situation. "Well, actually we're raising our kids [methodist/muslim/agnostic/etc.]" works when you're talking to non-family, but not so much grandpa. Yikes. Have fun with that tree!

Barefoot_Mommy said...

Karen- Your comment seriously cracked me up. SO TRUE! Every bit of it. LOL

Tammie- yeah, we all know that hard core religious folks are just a leeetle bit scary. I will definitely check out those books/that author, her blog was right up my alley.

Daphne said...

Oy. Aren't you *thankful* that you are home in your own safe home now? That would be really difficult and it sounds like you handled it as well as you could. A day like that would make anyone cranky!

I'm totally with you: pray for me or anyone I love, but no 'tongues' or fanaticism, please. Kids don't need that stuff, it's scary.

Hugs! You did great.

Barefoot_Mommy said...

Daphne- YES! I'm VERY thankful to be home in my own element. LOL Tim's grandma is used to bullying everyone in their family to do as she wills and has run off just about every female that has ever married in. She is *that* mother-in-law. Unfortunately for her, I don't do well being bullied and am equally as, if not more, stuborn than she is. Also unfortunately for her, the hubs is more inclined to agree with me than her which REALLY bothers her. She is used to getting her way even if she can't bully the "outlaws" by bullying their husbands into doing as she pleases with or without their wives on board. This is the.... third major issue that she and I have butted heads over and so far I'm 2 and 0. Undefeated and I plan on staying that way. LOL