Last week, Jordan fell outside a friend’s house and punctured the back of his leg severely enough that we thought it best to head to the doctor’s office for stitches, and a tetanus shot. He’s fine now. He endured like the tough kid I know he is and, save six stitches to be removed next week, and a bandage just behind his knee, he’s good as new.
Though my friend offered to keep the younger children while I took Jordan to the doctor, I opted to take them with me so they could get all get a flu shot. I’d already called the office. They could see us right away. Surely, a trip with all five wouldn’t be that difficult.
And God bless the doctor’s office who took my kids to their break room and pumped them full of vanilla sandwich cookies and Little Debbie cakes, it wasn’t that difficult. We managed quite nicely until just before the doctor’s PA finished up the stitches. By this time, treats were eaten and children were restless and my nerves were slowly beginning to unravel. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel though, so I was keeping it together. I didn’t, however, have the wherewithal to come up with a reasonable answer when the PA innocently asked me if Christmas was just a “low key” time of year for us.
He knows my family well, and knows we are Mormon. While I know it wasn’t formed to insult or offend, his question did demonstrate a lack of understanding about the Mormon faith. I’m not sure at what level his misunderstanding lies. There are faiths that believe in Jesus Christ and choose not to celebrate holidays in the traditional sense. He very well could have been making such an assumption about Mormons. But it’s also possible, because it happens so frequently, that he would assume Mormons don’t celebrate Christmas because many believe that Mormons aren’t Christian. Except, I am a Mormon. And I believe in Jesus Christ.
With four children running circles around me, and the fifth needing a hand to squeeze as the last few stitches were put in place, I just didn’t think to say more than, “No, we do celebrate Christmas. The big tree, nativity scenes, the whole nine yards.” And even that came out halfheartedly. Looking back, I should of said more. I should have taken the opportunity to make sure that he understood that I am a witness of Jesus Christ – that I know Him and love Him and live for Him every single day. We celebrate Christmas to honor His birth – to remember the incredible gift that His life was, and to recognize how completely the world was changed when, in that humble stable, HE was born.
I admit, sometimes I grow weary of finding myself so frequently on the defensive. It often feels like those that choose to live without religion all together are met with less opposition than those who choose to live in a manner that isn’t completely mainstream. I know, because they are growing up in an area very similar to where I did, that it’s quite possible my children will be faced with countless experiences where their faith and beliefs are tried and tested. They will have friends that say hurtful things. They will be misunderstood. They will be antagonized far more than their friends who choose not to go to church at all. Hopefully, like I was, they will be stronger for it.
But that doesn’t mean I’m not often left shaking my head. With so much goodness and truth and light and love, with so much happiness abounding within the Mormon faith, why must the misunderstandings and ill conceived notions persist? People won’t remember that Mormons provide millions upon millions of dollars of humanitarian aid all over the world every single year, that they teach wholeheartedly the message of Jesus Christ, that they focus on the importance of family, the sanctity of marriage… but I’ll be hang dogged if anyone will ever forget that once, they heard that Mormons wear funny underwear.
I fear I’m coming across a bit cynical, and I don’t intend to. Generally speaking, I truly love and appreciate any opportunity to discuss my faith, even if it means answering questions about my underwear. You can only beat wrong information if you’re willing to replace it with what’s right, so whatever your question, I’ll answer, with a willing heart and voice. You’ll only have to tolerate a little bit of my venting in the process.