Written by Gillianne Ross
I am going to paint you a picture. It’s winter break, and there is actual snow because global warming hasn’t come to devour us yet in 2009. It’s the first Sunday of break, and there’s so many possibilities; friends to play with, homework to blow off, cookies to devour, and cats to accost with love. Oh, no, no. It’s Sunday, it’s eight in the morning, and you have to go to Kingdom Hall.
Merry Christmas, now go knock on someone’s door.
Up until I was fourteen, my mum was a Jehovah’s Witness, so by default of me being a clingy antisocial child, so was I. For those of you who did not grow up in a split Jehovah’s witness and anti-Catholic church household, here are the basics. Kingdom Hall meetings last for roughly two hours, so no complaining from you forty-five minute pew people. The meetings are made up of reading an article from the Awake, which ironically always put me to sleep. Then you read the Watchtower, and raise hands to answer questions. All the kids fight to be called on—it’s School 2.0 and I was the “worldly child,” and not to be extensively talked to by other kids. Not really, but strictly speaking Jehovah’s Witnesses are not supposed to interact at a high level with non-Witnesses.
The fun does not stop there. At nine, I was a mini feminist in construction and found it increasingly aggravating that I could not wear my jeans to Kingdom Hall. I had to wear skirts or buy fancy pants, because not doing so would be “disrespectful to God.” Well, I’m sorry but jeans are the actual meaning of life. To be dragged out of the house three days before Christmas when I could be smothering my cat with love and crumbs of sugary sweets? It was too much to ask.
Dear Jesus, I have a complaint. Why do only the men do readings during the meetings and organize all the door-to-door territories, even when women outnumber men 2:1? And why are the chairs so uncomfortable? He didn’t answer, so I faked being sick and doodled until I convinced my mum to leave.
Welcome to Christmas morning! Life is normal again, and I unwrap presents and have a wonderful consumerist time playing and being middle class. The Christmas tree is shining, and Paganism reigns all. Loads of fun—until mum pulls out one of those insipidly colorful books. They’re free from the Hall, and as a Pro-Writing major, I really question how the organization keeps that going. Paper is expensive, you know! These books have all you need to know about the world at large—and, you know, God and shit.
Jehovah’s Witness facts: Jesus was killed on a stick, not a cross. Just a big ass toothpick. His birthday was in the spring, not in December; them Catholics made it up somewhere. Easter? Nope! There is a whole separate celebration where you essentially do communion. But only if you are a “chosen one” and get this special feeling that you will go to Heaven when you die; all of us other normal people will populate the Earth again once it is destroyed with fire and brimstone and all the “worldly people are killed off.”
I faked it one year because I wanted a cracker; totally worth it. My dad never was a Jehovah’s Witness, and I at nine was terrified that he would get fried by a fireball before my face in the impending armageddon.
However, at fourteen my mum decided to find herself and expand her spirituality; goodbye Witnesses! Now, instead of knocking on doors, my door gets knocked on. It is glass. I cannot ignore them, because I know them. “Hello Carol.” *Stares intently at the back door plotting my escape.* In 2018, the snow has returned—thanks climate change for the new rotation in the jet stream—and Christmas is as snazzy as ever.
Being a cynical, non-baptized, worldly person now has its perks.