Growing up in the Worldwide Church of God was akin to being in a secret society - no one else understood the things that we understood; during the End Times, we were going to reign over mankind by becoming...gods! We were afforded this luxury through works masquerading as faith - not the stereotypical traditional Christian belief of simplistically accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, but through following - to the letter - the Old Testament Holy Days. That was the sole path to eternal life through a series of successive biblical resurrections.
Following - to the letter - the Old Testament Holy Days was only half of the equation. The other half was not following traditional faith-based beliefs/behaviors for example the pagan perversion Christmas, and other follow-the-dotted-line activities such as birthdays. If we didn't celebrate the birth of Christ, we certainly weren't going to celebrate (or even for that sake, acknowledge) birthdays. Growing up our own birthdays came and went without so much as a mention because to do so wouldn't honor God (and any fanfare would potentially mark us to be cast into the Lake of Fire from which there was no return).
As I matured and started to question the world around me, many things started disappearing from my priority list - mostly because there were no answers. Its not that I was just super-smart and could out-think or out-reason the answers, rather, there were no answers. At least no answers which made sense, least of all, the very idea surrounding, "faith" as a sustainable course of action. None of this happened very quickly. These types of things rarely do. No, in fact changing one's belief system before one understands how belief systems even work, can take a lifetime. Or in my case, a decade.
To those who are completely devoid of comprehension, why anyone would ever "struggle" with or "question" beliefs instilled in them by another or even ponder the wherewith of the individual doing the instilling (or really, any understanding whatsoever of causation) the entire premise that one's beliefs might change over time due to experience, maturity, or even popular opinion is an entirely foreign concept. Nonetheless, even those in the lowest common denominator are themselves usually capable of taking in new data and processing it. Usually.
So it was of no surprise to me to discover, upon having children of my own, who were going to have birthdays, how I was raised was surely going to conflict with those closest to me. Even my own mother who had since decided all that hooey was just hooey couldn't quite grasp that beliefs which rose and fell during adulthood differed from those which were raised with said beliefs being immutable - which is the problem with beliefs over say, ideas. Ideas can change. We expect ideas to change, to expand, to mutate. But not beliefs. And I'm not talking just religious beliefs. People's worldviews are as fanatically immutable.
So I struggled with changing myself. I struggled with dismantling beliefs which weren't rooted in concrete empiricism, or logic. I worked to dismiss how I was raised from creeping into my decisions and my behavior. Not unexpectedly, it took awhile. I read and learned and questioned and grew and shared all this information with everyone who knew me, from my cult-like beginnings to what I had incrementally overcome. My children never knew the difference in the two me's.
Let's go back to my comments on processing data. Even now, those who were closest to me, and watched firsthand my transformation over nearly ten full years on a day-to-day basis will comment, without skipping a beat, "So now you're celebrating birthdays?"