Wednesday, December 23, 2009

More existential musings!

So far we've successfully avoided the topic of whether God exists, but Nico has made a point to explain to his grandparents that Santa Claus does not exist. (My parents know about this blog, BTW, so I assume that they're aware of the situation as well.)

As you may recall from the past three years that Nico believed Santa was real right up until last year. This year's round of Christmas specials, however, kind of finished it off. It wasn't the fact that Rankin-Bass produced two different (contradictory) Santa-origin stories. It was that he liked Santa Claus Is Coming to Town so well that he decided that he, Nico, would grow up to be Santa Claus! He's been intent on this idea for weeks, and -- scientifically-minded as he is -- it has entailed lots of elaborate discussions of the precise logistics of how the whole Santa thing works. This led him to conclude that Santa Claus is not real, but it would be fun to be him. Santa Nico, as it were, named (indirectly) after Saint Nicholas himself.

As for the question of Jesus, we're kind of zeroing in on it. Last night we all went to see a production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Now, before you go jumping to the conclusion that my family is pushing the religious Christmas on us, I'll tell you that my mom presented this as one of the optional family events, and, in fact, my brothers did not attend (mostly because they didn't have any kids of the appropriate ages for the story). I opted in (for myself, my husband, and kids) because it was our Christmas tradition when I was a kid to read that book aloud as a family.

It actually ended up being a good intro to the religious side of Christmas. There's a whole comic scene where the main characters have to explain "The Christmas Story" to the bad kids because the bad kids (shockingly!) have never heard it! My kids also had never heard it, so they got a basic intro in real time.

The only tricky part was trying to keep Nico quiet because he is constantly full of questions! I had to sit next to him and let him whisper questions to me so that he would stop trying to ask questions aloud in full voice. For example, at the end when they were finally performing the pageant within the play:
Nico: So this story is in the Bible?
me: yes.
Nico: The Holy Bible?
me: yes.
Nico: Who are Mary and Joseph?
me: They're characters in the Bible.
Nico: Are they... gods?
me: no.

Then on the way home, we had a brief discussion of why people say Christmas is Jesus's birthday (even though it's not). The conclusion was that they didn't write the date down anywhere, so that's the day that people have chosen to use as a celebration/remembrance date. And I managed to refrain from going into an elaborate discussion of pre-Christian Solstice festivals (though you know how much I love that stuff!) and I also avoided mentioning that there's no evidence that anything at all was written about Jesus during His lifetime, and that the legend of the trek to Bethlehem was likely invented by Jesus' followers and probably never happened even if we assume the Jesus character of the Bible is based on a real person, etc....

Conclusion: So far so good! :D


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this. I've been quite torn about what to teach my three year old about xmas. But its a cultural holiday that I grew up with myself. I guess we'll be okay celebrating the season as normal and answer her questions if and when :)

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Xuxana!!!

Glad to be of help! That's been my system -- celebrating the season as normal and answering questions if and when -- and it has worked well so far.

By the way -- I see from your profile that you were raised in Utah. Would you like me to add your blogs to Outer Blogness and the blogroll at the secular-Mormon-interest group blog Main Street Plaza?

Christopher Smith said...

Awesome, chanson. Nico sounds like a really smart little kid!

C. L. Hanson said...

Thanks Chris!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes please do add my blog to the blogroll, thanks! Just my family/expat blog though, as my other blogs aren't really related to such issues ;)

I checked out the main street plaza sight, and is it for members and non-members of the Mormon church?

Honoured (that's how its spelled here in England, haha) to add outer blogness blogroll to my sidebar :)

Anonymous said...

sight? I meant site ;)

Varina said...

Of course Santa is real, haven't you seen Norad's tracking system:
That's just science.

Anonymous said...

Is Nico going to read the Bible accounts? I bet he'd have lots of questions for you if he did.

C. L. Hanson said...

Hey Xuxana!!!

Cool, I've just added you. You're now in the latest edition of my Outer Blogness roundup -- welcome to the community!

Hey Sabayon!!!

Haha, that's great!

Hey Chaplain!!!

We haven't read the Biblical account yet (except that excerpts were read during the play), but you're right that he'll have some questions when we get around to it...

Bull said...

I think it's sad that my youngest daughter (10) didn't know the christmas story and she's been going to Mormon church and primary every week for her whole life.

So, on Christmas Eve we actually did talk about the Christmas story although I just paraphrased instead of reading it from the Bible.

Frankly, I was embarrassed a little explaining about how Jesus was conceived and why Joseph was going to break off their marriage. It really is quite a risque story when told in common, non-biblical language. I mean my daughter knows where babies come from and her eyes were a little wide as I explained the story.

Oh, and I did explain why Christmas is celebrated when it is and winter solstice feasts, etc.