How do I convince my sister that celebrating Christmas is okay?

My sister is a born-again Christian. She has said that she no longer celebrates Christmas, Easter, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day … well, you get the gist of it. She says the Lord has spoke to her heart about this. She feels there is too much emphasis on these days, that those days and individuals are being worshipped instead of giving worship only to God. It is difficult to understand and hurtful to my parents not to receive a phone call on Mother’s/Father’s Day or their birthdays. Can you help us to understand her thinking, if possible?

Your sister’s position is a minority opinion in most Evangelical Christian circles and is, in fact, similar to the Jehovah’s Witness refusal to celebrate holy days. Although we cannot presume to know your sister’s interior prayer life, you might point out to her that the same Lord she believes told her not to celebrate holidays celebrated holidays himself during his earthly life (cf. Luke 2:41-43; John 6:3-5, 7:1-10, 10:22-23). In fact, one of the motifs of the Gospel of John is the Jewish holiday cycle.

The purpose of holidays is not to worship days and individuals. It is to set apart time to focus attention on loving God and loving neighbors, the two great commandments (cf. Matt. 22:35-40). Just like in secular life where we must set aside vacation days in order to rest and focus our attention especially on family, so in the spiritual life we must set aside holy days in order to focus our attention more closely on God and neighbor. In both cases, if we were left to our own devices, we might never do it. Because the days are set apart ritually, we don’t have to think about doing it: it’s already been done.

If your sister still refuses to celebrate holidays herself, that is, of course, her choice. You might remind her though of the obligation reiterated by Jesus from the Ten Commandments to honor parents (cf. Ex. 20:12, Matt. 19:16-21) and ask her to please call your parents on days important to them. If she cannot bring herself to do so on holidays and birthdays, perhaps she would be willing to do so within the week of the important day.