Every year around this time, we get new Torah observant believers writing to our website to ask for suggestions on how to handle their “unbelieving” families during the holiday season. My husband and I always cringe whenever we see these questions because, in all honesty, it varies from family to family. Some slide into it very easily, while for others, it’s the start of World War III. We have known some who actually ended up divorced because their spouses refused to accept the idea of Torah observance!
It’s hard, folks. And the bottom line is, you can’t just force Torah on someone who doesn’t “get it.” All you can do is be as loving and gentle as possible, while at the same time consistently continuing your own Torah walk. Chances are, your spouse/family is going to take a long time to “come around.” Some never accept it….
If you have a spouse, family members or relatives who believe you’ve “put yourself back under the law,” then all you can really do when the Christmas (or Easter) holidays come around is to tread lightly, while remaining firm in your belief and gently explaining why you don’t wish to participate - all while allowing them the leeway to bring that Christmas tree in and buying presents.
First, and foremost, you MUST remember that, just because you found your way to Torah, it does not give you the right to become a raging dictator who makes "overnight" changes. The change in your home has to happen gradually. If you suddenly forbid Christmas at your house and scream bloody murder at the thought of them bringing in a tree to decorate, you may risk losing your family!
On the other hand, don't be a "shrinking violet," either. Go ahead and explain that "Christmas" is NOT the birth of our Savior and that "Santa Claus" has nothing, whatsoever to do with his birth. If someone suggests that "it's just fun for the kids," and "it doesn't matter when we celebrate the birth, as long as we celebrate it," then ask if they've ever seen "Santa and his reindeer" in a "manger scene"; and whether or not it would be okay if, from now on, if the family celebrates their own birthdays on some day other than on the day they were born... Chances are, this will initiate some conversation....
But yes, by all means, let them do Christmas - especially if you have young children, because they won’t understand your sudden aversion toward this man-made, gift-giving, debt-creating holiday. When the holidays are over, have a family gathering to educate them on God’s commanded Holy Days, explaining that Christmas and Easter are not biblical and have nothing, whatsoever to do with the birth or death of Jesus. Explain that Jesus was born on the first day of Sukkot/Feast of Tabernacles, and circumcised on the 8th day (see Luke 2:21-23); and he died and rose on the High Holy Days of Passover (1 Cor 5:7 and 1 Cor 15:20-23).
This year Hanukah starts at sunset, December 12 and ends at sunset, December 20th, so, buy or make a Hanukiah (9-branch candle holder) and “do” Hanukah in your home. (Hanukah normally falls around, or within a few weeks of "Christmas" though the holiday is not related to Christmas in any way.) Explain that, while it’s not one of the seven Biblical feasts, it is a remembrance of the victory of a small band of Jews over the occupying army of Syrian king Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus, who came to power in 175 B.C.E. forbade the Jews to practice their religion, and desecrated their Temple....
If you have young children, give them a little surprise gift throughout the Hanukah week (doesn't have to be much, just a little something - candy, cookies, a little toy, books or whatever) and simply use this time as a teaching tool about God and His Appointed times.
You could read the story of Hanukah to them on the first night while letting them help you light the candles. (Here's our shortened version, if you like: https: About Hanukah. We also feature a short article explaining the difference between the "daily" menorah and the Hanukah menorah. Also, check out our longer version of how to handle your family during the holidays.)
May YHWH be with you and your family as you attempt to make it through these upcoming holidays in a way that will be edifying for everyone! And may your whole family eventually come to realize the importance of the "echad-ness" of YHWH/Yeshua/Torah.