Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Change of Perception

It's funny how things can be going along and suddenly something you've known for a while will look differently. I guess that is one of those things that some would call an epiphany. Well, I'm not sure if this is an epiphany or not but I am sure my latest "ah" moment brings new light to the subject of my daughter.

My oldest daughter's birthday is in December. I guess I've heard a time or two over the years that she won't let her family put up their Christmas tree or decorate until after her birthday is over. I've always thought that was odd.....and even unfortunate that she felt "threatened by the holiday" but other than that I didn't think much about it.

I know when she was a child we were very careful about not rolling her birthday and Christmas into the same package, wanting her to know she was important to us and that her birthday mattered. When I first heard of her restriction about holiday decorating I even spoke with her about our attempts to make her birthday special. She actually admitted that her feelings had nothing to do with the way we dealt with her birthday when she was growing up.

This situation probably qualifies as one of those good examples of why we are not responsible for the feelings of others.....only for our actions. Feelings don't necessarily reflect the actions behind them. I've really not ever been able to understand where her feelings that having a birthday in December is unfair have come from. But with my new "ah" moment, I'm beginning to maybe see actually works for her.

It never occurred to me until now just how selfish her "house rules" about decorating for Christmas are. The "all about me" reason behind it somehow totally missed me. I guess I've never seen that side of my daughter before.........and yet it's pretty darn clear that is what she is demanding since she has 2 children whose birthdays are also in December and the rule doesn't apply to their birthdays as well.

I'm sure that she can probably justify that decision because those birthdays are Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Since this holiday is supposed to be all about the birth of the Christ Child, I can see it might be difficult to explain that choice to others without looking pretty foolish. But isn't it a big double standard to not let children decorate for the holiday because of a parent's birthday?

We had neighbors when I was a child who never decorated until Christmas Eve after the evening service at church. Since the season was totally about religion to them, it was their way of honoring the Child and not getting caught up in the commercialism.

I could always understand their restraint because it really fit who these people were. There were no double standards in their home about what they could do that others couldn't. This practice was never about them or what they could get from it.

Putting my daughter into this mix really changes things up a bit for me. Whatever her motivations might be they are self-centered and not about the season in any way. I'm going to have to do some more thinking to see where this new perspective takes me.

At the very least I can say I am disappointed in what she has chosen to become. She certainly has overlooked a lot of the values she was taught in my home. I guess I didn't see what has been right before me eyes for a while. I wonder what other kinds of things I will find as the door opens on this new perspective.


Kahless said...

I am glad you are finding your new perspective. Cool.

Enola said...

What I was struck by in your post is the fact that your daughter admits that her viewpoint now is not based on how you celebrated her birthday as a child. She's come up with her adult-restrictions all on her own. Likewise, she has come up with her treatment of you all on her own too. Just like you're not responsible for her birthday/Christmas issues, you're not responsible for her other issues either.

Donna said...

I entirely second what Enola said. You have every right to be disappointed in HER based on her behaviour, the way she treats you, etc., but you cannot be disappointed in yourself for the way you raised her if you realize that what you did had nothing to do with the person she became. I can only imagine how difficult this is, to separate yourself like that, not having children, but I do think your new perspective will help you get some more separation.