The Wiebe family celebrates Christmas a little differently
It’s a few days before Christmas and Clayton and Betty Rose Wiebe are preparing to have their family over for their holiday meal.
But, the Wiebe Christmas Day meal is less than traditional.
“One year we had Mexican,” Betty Rose Wiebe said. “One year we had clam chowder. The ladies were discussing what to do this year and we decided on Mexican. Chili Colorado: it’s a kind of soup.”
The Wiebes, who live in a modest farmhouse Northwest of Durham, celebrate Christmas a little differently than most people. Their house is noticeably lacking Christmas decorations. An extravagant inflatable Santa does not live on the Wiebes’ front yard in December, the Wiebes’ mantel is left bare of stockings, and an ornately decorated tree does not stand in their living room. The focus of Christmas for the Wiebes and the members of the Morning Star Church is the birth of Jesus.
“It’s more important to have peace and light and rest in our souls,” Clayton Wiebe said, “Instead of an outward display.”
As part of their Mennonite beliefs, Clayton, 66, and Betty Rose Wiebe, 62, shun a lot of the modern opulence associated with the Christmas season. The Wiebes still give gifts; this year in particular they are pooling part of their money to give a big gift to their daughter who is living in Yuma, Ariz., as a caregiver for Betty Rose’s sister who has multiple sclerosis. They also try to give all of their grandchildren gifts.
“More in the $20 to $25 range,” Clayton said.
The Wiebes were also trying to get an e-mail-only Internet connection for their computer at home.
“I told Bettie Rose that that could be her Christmas present,” Clayton said. “(Giving gifts) is not a life or death matter.”
This is not to say that the Wiebes are devoid of celebration. On Christmas day, they plan to go to the 10 a.m. service at the Morning Star Church and then the Wiebes will be hosting the annual family gathering. Three of their five children, their spouses, and grandchildren will sit down for the meal — 20 people in all. Their daughter in Yuma and one of their sons who is doing missionary work in Ghana will be absent.
Along with the soup, Betty Rose will make four different Christmas confections: Russian teacakes, poppy seed bread, peanut clusters, and peanut brittle.
The Wiebes also participated in some of the Christmas time activities of their Church. Early in December, youth members set up a fellowship dinner mainly for church members 65 and older.
“People change their plans to come to the dinner,” Clayton said. “Everyone looks forward to it.”
Two couples of youth leaders set up a group to go caroling and the church organized cheer baskets — baskets of fruit, cookies, and candy. The church sent baskets to a children’s hospital in Wichita and to Mrs. Warren Winter who was recently widowed.
The Wiebes also sent out Christmas cards, even to people they met in Samara, Russia, where they worked as missionaries in 1999. After Clayton sold his dairy cattle and retired from dairy farming, the Wiebes decided to join a three-year mission to Russia.
“They didn’t really have Christmas,” Clayton said. “They hadn’t heard of Russian teacakes either.”
Whether the Wiebes are spending Christmas in Kansas or in Russia, they still believe that the holiday is about Jesus.
“The reason for the season, that’s Jesus Christ,” he said. “The Bible gives us teachings for our life; a new life, a new birth.”