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Posted by: not part of the problem ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 12:48AM

My ultra-TBM in-laws, who thankfully live in a different time zone (mountain - surprised?) sent us (me and DH) a passive-aggressive god-bomb Xmas gift, or what I call "a box of shun."

DH is inactive, but a believer, BIC, RM. I was a convert, now atheist. They know of my problems with TSCC, they know I don't believe. They have read my blog which outlines the many things I have problems with. I have never spoken out against TSCC with them and I am respectful of their beliefs. I live with one and I'm trying to not have it be an issue here.

In this box, there was an ornament that says "believe" on it, printouts from all the Christmas devotional talks, a book called "A Christ-Centered Christmas: seven traditions to lead us closer to the Savior" with an inscription "may you find a tradition that will make all of your Christmases merry," AND a nativity scene.

Also, there was a letter in the box. It says that they've never had a family tradition, so now they're starting one. Every year, everyone in the family is going to write one paragraph to one page on which figure in the nativity story they wish they could have been at the Savior's birth. Besides the people you can pick star or even the animals (?)Then my MIL is going to make them all into a book at some point and distribute.

I was offended because they picked a family tradition that obviously had no room for me. They were always pissed DH married a convert and not a Molly. This newest twist has them pretty thrilled as well. I got upset and told my husband I didn't care to be shunned from afar. He said I "couldn't have it both ways," which I guess means being an atheist and being an accepted member of the family. Then he asked me if I was going to go on the "Anti-Mormon... Oh I mean Mormon bashing" website and talk to people. I said it wasn't anti-Mormon, it is pro-knowledge and it wasn't my fault he wanted to ignore things.

I found a local atheist group and I'm going to drop in on Sunday, and DH referred to it as "worshipping not having a god." which... please don't get me started on that.

I've never really had any big problem in my short exmo time (a year and a half) mostly because we live so far away from the mo's and DH has never been active since we moved here. I'm estranged from my family, so they're pretty much it (oh, joy).

Is it better to just not participate at all in the new "family" tradition? They want this Year's letters before January 1. If it helps, I've been in this family for 16 years. It shouldn't surprise me, but it was a nice unwelcome Christmas surprise. We had agreed to do Secret Santa, so this little God-bomb was a little something extra for the heathen.

Sorry to whine. Nowhere else to go. :-\

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Posted by: wine country girl ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 12:53AM

And fuck them!

Do what you want,
you're an adult!

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Posted by: Hervey Willets ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 12:59AM

Your name, please.

>Ben Cohen.


>Retired. I was an innkeeper.

In Bethlehem.


And in fact it was your inn where Jesus was born.

>That’s right. Well, not in the inn itself. Out back.

In the animal shed.

>Yeah. I still get a lot of flak for that.

How do you mean?

>I mean that people still criticize me for not having room at the inn. They say to me, you couldn't give a pregnant woman a room? You couldn't give a room to the woman pregnant with the divine child? Couldn't even spare a broom closet for the Baby Jesus?

How do you respond to that?

>I say, well, look. First off, it wasn't just me. If you go back you'll see that every inn was full.

Because of the census.

>Census, schmensus. It was the foot races. Bethlehem versus Cana. Also there was a touring theater troupe from Greece. Only appearance in Judea. The city was packed. We had reservations for months.

But Mary was pregnant.

>I had three pregnant ladies at the inn that night. One was giving birth when Joe and Mary showed up. She was down the hall, screaming at the top of her lungs, cursing like you wouldn't believe. Her husband tried to encourage her to push and she kicked him in the groin. Think about that. She’s crowning a baby, and she takes the time to put her foot into her husband’s testicles. So maybe you'll understand why even if I had a room, I wouldn't be in a rush to give it up to those two.

But you ended up letting them go out to the animal shed.

>That was an accident.

How so?

>Joe comes in and asks for a room, and I tell him we’re all out of rooms and have been for months. Foot races. Theater groupies. And such. And he says, come on, please. I've got a pregnant lady with me. And I say, you hear that down the hall? I’m full up with pregnant ladies. And he says, this baby is important. And I say, hey, buddy, I don’t care if he’s the Son of God, I don’t have any rooms.

So there’s some irony there.

>I guess so. And then he says, look, we'll take anything. And so I say, as a joke, all right, you can go and sleep with animals if you like. And he says fine and slaps some money on the counter.

He called your bluff.

>Yeah. And I say, I was kidding about that. And he says, and my wife’s water just broke in your lobby. What could I do? I pointed him in the direction of the animals.

It’s better than having the baby in the street.

>I suppose so, but you know, if the reason they were in Bethlehem was because of the census, then he had family in the area, right? It’s his ancestral home and all that. He can’t say to a cousin, hey, give us a couch? There are some family dynamics going on there that have been conveniently left unexamined, if you ask me.

Joseph had a lot on his mind.

>Must have.

So the baby is born, and they place him in the manger.

>Which, by the way, I told them not to do.


>Because how unsanitary is that? Do you know what a manger is?

As far as I know, it’s the place you put infant messiahs.

>It’s a food trough for animals.

Oh. Interesting.

>“Oh, interesting” is right. Let me ask you. So your baby is born, and the first thing you do is put him in an open container filled with grain and covered in oxen drool? Does this seem reasonable to you?

You did have them out with the animals. Their options were limited.

>I rented cribs. I asked Joseph, do you want a crib? And he said, no, we’re fine, and then sets the kid in the food box. And I say to him, you’re new at this, aren't you.

In his defense, he was.

>And then someone says, look, the animals, they are adoring the baby. And I say, adoring, hell. They’re wondering why there’s a baby in their food.

On the other hand, the image of the Baby Jesus in the manger is a classic one.

>Yeah, I mention that when people get on my case about not giving Joe and Mary a room. I tell them that having a Christmas carol called “Away in a Hotel Room” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. They never have anything to say to that.

It’s said that a star appeared on the night when Jesus was born. Did you see it?

>No. I was too busy trying to convince Joseph to rent a crib.

It’s said it was bright enough to lead the Three Wise Men to your inn.

>Well, three men showed up at the inn. I don’t know how wise they were.

How do you mean?

>The baby is born, right? And then these guys show up. And they say, we have brought gifts for the child. And I say, that’s nice, what did you bring. And they say, we have brought gold and frankincense and myrrh. And I say, you’ve got to be kidding.

What’s wrong with that?

>Let me quote another Christmas song for you. “A child, a child, shivers in the cold, let us bring him silver and gold.” Really? Silver and gold? And not, oh, I don’t know, a blanket? An newborn infant is exhibiting signs of possible hypothermia and your response is to give him cold metal objects? Who ever wrote that song needs a smack upside the head.

You’re saying the gifts were inappropriate.

>What’s wrong with diapers? A nice jumper or two? A Baby Bjorn? They were riding around on a donkey, you know. A Baby Bjorn would have come in handy. Have you ever in your life gone to a baby shower where someone says, congratulations on the baby, here’s some perfume. No. Because most people have some sense.

I think the idea is that all the gifts were fit for a king.

>Yes, a king who first pooped in my animals’ manger. I would have appreciated a gift of diapers.

Point taken.

>And another thing, they brought all these expensive gifts, but do you ever hear about Joe and Mary and Jesus being anything but poor? Or at the very most working class?

Now that you mention it, no.

>Exactly. I think what happened is these three guys show up and they say, here are all these expensive gifts we got your baby. Oh and by the way, we happen to know King Herod thinks your baby’s a threat and plans to kill every kid younger than two years of age just to be sure, so you better go. Egypt’s nice this time of year. What? You’re traveling by donkey? Well, then you can’t take all these nice gifts with you. We’ll just hold on to them for now, write us a letter when you get settled and we’ll mail them. And then they never do.

I don’t think there’s scriptural support for that theory.

>I’m not saying I have any evidence. All I’m saying is that it makes sense.

After the Three Wise Men, were there other visitors?

>Yeah. It got a little crowded. The animal sheds aren't designed for a large amount of foot traffic. And then that kid showed up with a drum, and I said, all right, fine, we’re done.

The song of that incident suggests the drum went over well.

>Let me ask you. You’re a parent, your child has just been born, he’s tired, you’re tired, people won’t leave you alone, and then some delinquent comes by and unloads a snare solo in your baby’s ear. Does this go over well?

Probably not, no.

>There you go.

After the birth, did your inn benefit from the notoriety?

>Not really. Jesus kind of slipped off everyone’s radar, for, what? Thirty years? Thirty-five?

Something like that.

>Right. So there wasn't much benefit there. I got some mileage out of telling the story about the crazy couple who rented my animal shed, and the visitors, and the drumming, but I mostly told it to friends. Then just as I’m about to retire someone tells me of this hippie preacher in Jerusalem who got in trouble with the Romans. And I say, hey, I think I know that guy. I think he got born in my shed. And then, well. You know what the Romans did to him.


>Romans, feh. Then I sold the inn to my nephew and retired to Joppa. By the time Jesus became really famous I was out of the game. And then my nephew sold the inn and they put that church there.

The Church of the Nativity.

>You been?

I have, yes.

>It’s nice. I liked the inn better, of course.

Looking back, would you have done anything differently?

>I would have comped Joseph the crib.

That still would have changed the Christmas carol.

>I know. But, look. You didn't have to wash out that manger.

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Posted by: not part of the problem ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 02:29AM

That was awesome, Hervey! Thanks!

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Posted by: LongTimeGone ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 10:43AM

To Hervey, please save your story and post it again next year! It's too good to disappear into Internet oblivion.

To Not Part of the Problem, I don't consider your post whining, and there's no need to apologize for venting your hurt and frustration. It's much healthier to get it out rather than replay it in your head.

If you inspired this new tradition, little, ol' you sure has a lot of control over the PIL. If it didn't result in such obnoxious behavior, it could be flattering.

Your MIL sounds like a treasure. A writing assignment with a due date as a new "tradition" sounds about as fun as cleaning the toilets at church. I would not participate or even mention it to them. If your DH wants to do it, let him have at it.

It may just be the way I perceived what you wrote, but your DH sounded a little passive-aggressive with the "bashing" comment, and the "can't have it both ways" comment seems a tad snotty. I'm sorry you don't get support from him regarding your discovery of the truth about Mormonism, but the tentacles of Mormon indoctrination burrow deep and rear their ugly heads at the most inopportune moments.

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Posted by: MJ ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 11:02AM

That will be news to a lot of rugby fans.

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Posted by: imaworkinonit ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 01:09AM

and you'd turn them away again.

Just kidding :-) That WOULD be a little rude, I guess.

I guess politeness rules out picking Jesus, too.

But seriously, the other TBMs in the family are gonna HATE this "tradition". What an amazing boundary violation to tell a group of adults that SHE has selected a tradition and THEY are expected to do it. Especially one that involves an assignment to express a particular feeling (that some may not have), and a desire to share and distribute those feelings with others.

I doubt ANYONE will want to participate. The trick is finding a way to opt out. Just ignore the request? Or tell her straight up that you aren't participating.

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Posted by: not part of the problem ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 02:38AM

How is that less rude than a box of shun? :)

Nope... I'm going with inn-keeper... I'm going to craft something and have my friends here at RfM help me polish it into something spectacularly sarcastic, yet still in-bounds.(this will be something they would expect from me)

mwah mwah mwah >:-]

"Now is the great day of my power! [...] There is none who dares to molest, or make afraid!"

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Posted by: thedude ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 02:40AM

but send them back the message from the movie Polar Express. It is elegant, simple and provides a message that is universally good without the exclusive garbage of TSCC. Hey...just 'Believe' and define "Believe" the way that works for you!

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Posted by: wings ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 06:51AM

My family continues to have family "things" everyone is expected to attend or participate in with these assignments. Most of these have non-participants, and others that forget or do not get it in
on the date. I do not engage. I do not make excuse. If I get pushed by family members to engage...I simply say I am not interested in _________whatever it is. It appears your spouse is Mormon and this gift would be fine for him to participate in with his family. Obviously, his and their religion. Let spouse have the assignment...and inform him you are not interested.

Just because someone demands total participation without your permission, this does not mean you must participate. It is a rude gift. If they expect you to jump hoops to play a silly game on some time frame, that is an assignment, not a gift. I feel for you.

Do not engage....that is my best suggestion.

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Posted by: rt ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 08:08AM

Can you wish you were baby jesus? All kinds of possibilities there.

Also, I've never heard of a tradition that gets started in year x. Traditions have always been around, they grow organically, that's why they're called traditions.

If you've never had a christmas tradition, well that's a tradition too, isn't it? A very mormon christmas tradition at that.

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Posted by: Glo ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 08:23AM

Don't make a big deal out of it, just ignore them and their silly Mormon games.
Why let them cause problems from a distance when you can simply make them fade away.

Conveniently "forget" to answer . If they keep pressing you can plainly state you're too busy. They aren't actually shunning you, they try to keep pushing their beliefs on you.

You know they won't change, so why aggravate your life by interacting with them.
Most men are not very good at keeping up social connections, so let hubby deal with them if he has time.

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Posted by: not part of the problem ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 03:09PM

Thanks, glo. this is sound advice and your insights are right on. DH probably won't do anything.

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Posted by: Cheryl ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 10:14AM

Received the box. Thanks for thinking of us.

Sign your name.

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Posted by: voltaire ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 01:10PM

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Posted by: jpt ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 11:27AM

I find the the generations above me try hard to keep the family together... and the default way is to wrap it all together with their religious belief systems.

Most times I can say, "thanks, but no thanks." Maybe add an "I don't think you'd like/appreciate my perspective, so it's best if you continue on without me." Some relatives require a less tactful approach, such as an explanation of how the nativity is the next iteration of previous religious belief systems. Beyond that it escalates into me implying that they're less than bright, which of course alienates me further, but that's okay with certain people.

This year I chose to stay home rather than subject myself to a houseful of people whose level of conversation never deviate or exceed from a priesthood or relief society manual level.

I don't really look at it all as a shunning; if anything, they probably think I'm shunning them. It's just what they do; it's all they know, it's all they want to know.

Conversations on this "mormon bashing" board are certainly more cerebral.

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Posted by: not part of the problem ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 03:12PM

some people do require a less tactful approach, and my PIL are those people. If you try to nicely imply things, they don't let it alone. Finally you have to say "hey! this is the way it is!" they don't like the directness and then they act offended.

If they keep pushing it, that may be the avenue I have to take.

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Posted by: maria ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 12:22PM

If your MIL wants crap like that, make your husband do it. He's the believer.

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Posted by: lulu ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 12:41PM

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Posted by: voltaire ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 01:08PM

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Posted by: SusieQ#1 ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 12:23PM

Just because someone asks you to do something doesn't mean you have to do it. They included you, knowing what they do about your beliefs.
I don't call that shunning at all.

If you do decide to add something to the letters,send something polite and kind.
Send some kind of message that has to do with some universal teaching of unconditional love. It is in the teachings of Jesus.
Why not just say something short and sweet like: Love One Another.

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Posted by: not part of the problem ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 03:17PM

they did not do it to include me. I know it might seem that way, but over the years they have done things like this to try and make me feel uncomfortable enough to just go along to get along. It's a manipulation tactic.

They push and push and then I say "hey, I'm an atheist, okay?!?"

Then they say "why are you so sensitive about it?" Like they haven't been picking at me.

Lots of people say don't participate. I'm seriously considering that.

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Posted by: SusieQ#1 ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 12:31PM

"Christmas shows how the power of myth inspires us and lifts our spirits. Its emphasis on humility and sacrifice motivates us to strive higher and live better." Jerry Moore

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Posted by: anon4this ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 01:07PM

I don't know if it looks like this to you but it seems as if in-laws are trying to angle a wedge btwn you and DH.

And DH's "worship not believing in god" and "can't have it both ways" lines sound like they they may have an opening.

Did you convert as part of the dating/wedding process?

If so, sounds like in-laws/hubby may be harboring a little resentment at your perceived "bait and switch."

If you think this may be the case, my advice, don't give them anything they could use to put a chink in your marriage.

I'd ignore the request from MIL (or, better yet, make some crap up that you don't believe just for the appearance that you care) and just don't discuss this topic again until DH comes to you and says "I don't believe in LDS any longer. Can you help me get out?"

PS--if you're truly an atheist, you shouldn't be offended by MIL's "tradition" that doesn't have room for you. Atheism is not a religion. It is simply not believing in a god. You shouldn't be offended that they do and want to develop this religious tradition. You should just be thinking it's silly and then decide whether or not you want make in-laws happy by participating rather than trying to establish atheism vs TBM camps and trying to get DH to commit to one. Sounds like he won't commit to yours anyway.

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Posted by: not part of the problem ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 03:26PM

It does not look like they are trying to drive a wedge... they actually ARE trying to drive a wedge. When we lived in the same state as them and DH did something they perceived as not in his personality (standing up to them), they'd say "this is your wife's doing!" or "did your wife put you up to this?"

I did not convert as part of the dating process. Made that little mistake on my own, but DH is the elder who baptized me. He came home from his mission basically already in a relationship and PIL were pissed about it. They did not like my "attitude" which is not submissive Molly raise a bunch of kids. They kept telling him it wasn't too late to find another mate. They kept trying to tell me things about DH that would potentially make him less attractive as a husband, including made-up health problems. As a matter of fact we have zero kids and no plans for them, which they also think is me.

I feel like I am truly an atheist. I saw this little tradition as less about religion and more about driving a wedge. a manipulation tactic, and one that I am used to. Still made for a crappy little surprise.

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Posted by: hello ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 03:40PM

I wonder if you could write a little story for their tradition that would express your feelings about their treatment without alienating them--maybe even included in their written offerings?

Something like-"I am Beth, the little kid that was excluded from the manger of the nativity, because I didn't believe" kinda thing.

Or would that be guilt-tripping them? :)

Really, they are sad little folks, and not worthy of your notice. Can you try to communicate with your DH on a mature level?

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Posted by: not part of the problem ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 03:47PM

I do communicate with DH on a mature level. he recognizes what they do, but always dismisses it with "well... that's my parents. you know how they are." And it's true. They're not going to change or it would have happened by now.

There's really nothing that can be done about their attitude since THEY do not communicate on a mature level. If I speak out, I'm the b--ch, and if DH speaks out, it's me putting him up to it.

That's why I want to do something a little snarky, like you suggest. It can't deteriorate the relationship further.

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Posted by: charles, buddhist punk ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 01:29PM

@ not part of the problem:
when you are handed lemons...make lemon cough drops. Go, have fun with it. I know I would. While I loved Hervey's (by now) classic Christmas story twist, I would go with the real story on how Mary got pregnant. I don't know why anyone in the Christian world swallows that tripe about "the holy ghost made me pregnant"...please, that excuse works only with women beyond child bearing age.

@ Hervey Willets:
Thank you, and we're not worthy! this story ought to win some sort of award. Cricket, are you reading this? I move that Willets's Christmas Story be featured front and center of the site.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/25/2010 01:30PM by charles, buddhist punk.

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Posted by: not part of the problem ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 03:27PM

I do want to have a little fun with it...

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Posted by: Heresy ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 01:55PM

different I am from the group. It hurts, because no one wants to talk about the obvious differences or acknowledge them, yet the whole process puts a spot light on those differences.

I don't know what you can do but rant here. You don't want your resentment to poison your marriage, or damage what's left of your relationship with his family.

Thank God they are far away. You are doing the best you can in a bad situation.

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Posted by: not part of the problem ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 03:28PM

You're right on here with all of my feelings. You summed it up for me. Thanks for understanding. :)

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Posted by: not part of the problem ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 03:30PM

@wings, @glo, @maria, @lulu & @voltaire - you probably have the best advice in saying to do nothing. I am tempted to have a little fun with it though. Just a little...

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Posted by: luminouswatcher ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 03:34PM

I know it is frustrating, but I think you should try and get into the spirit of it all. If it were me:

I am the cholera bacterium, that was hanging around near by. Thanks to the Lord of Lords, who allows me to live, even if it causes millions to suffer and die.

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Posted by: not part of the problem ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 03:36PM

lol! I like it!

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Posted by: karin ( )
Date: December 25, 2010 05:55PM

'Jesus slept here" written on the stable wall the inn would be worth a lot of money.

I bet that 'tradition' lasts all of 1 year, or it turns into a big joke-- see above comment. traditions are fun or meaningful things that people want to continue, not a homework assignment! ugg.

@ Hervey: great story!!! loved it !! burst out laughing !!

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