The Post Where I Offend Christians Everywhere*

* I actually do not intend to offend anyone, although I expect several million people would disagree and disapprove. Please keep in mind that I’m just talking about my family, my choices and not about yours.

As Christmas draws near, I realize that my kids have no freaking idea what the holiday is actually about. We’re not a religious family. In fact, the only times my kids have heard the words “Jesus,” “Christ” or “God” is when they are said in frustration by me. The savior that is sometimes mentioned in carols? L thinks that means Santa Claus. I realize that at some point my kids will need to be educated about these things, but so far it hasn’t really been necessary, and frankly, I just don’t know how to do it.

I grew up in a non-religious Jewish household. I was exposed to the religion and holidays- we celebrated the big ones with my grandparents- but none of it had any real meaning for me. T was raised in a totally non-religious household where they only celebrated Christmas in the most secular way. Saying that we are a non-observant family seems like an understatement.

Growing up I always wanted to celebrate Christmas. I loved everything about it and I felt left out of the cultural fabric that surrounded me at this time of year. The fact that we celebrate Christmas to the extent we do in my house now is because of me. I love the tree, the stockings, the spirit of the holiday. I love the magic and excitement. It’s all about giving, receiving, magic, Santa, family and fun around here. The actual birth of Christ does not factor into it.

We don’t celebrate Hanukkah although the rest of my side of the family, including L’s and S’s only cousins, do. I kind of hated Hanukkah growing up. It was a Christmas wannabe holiday and it totally didn’t live up to its super awesome counterpart. If we’re with my family during Hanukkah, we’ll do the menorah thing with them, and my mother is pretty pushy about giving my kids Hanukkah presents so they are aware of the holiday. However, L heard the word “Jewish” for the first time a couple of weeks ago. His cousin told him that she is 100% Jewish and that L is only 50%. L, having no idea what the word meant or what the percentages meant, just said something about Batman and bad guys.

What I don’t want is to start a conversation about these things and create confusion. I feel like starting with “some people believe…” sets up a situation where my kids end up saying things to your kids that would be better not said. So my plan is to continue as I have been. Hiding Johnny the elf each evening, lying about Santa, and creating warm family traditions and memories around an entirely secular Christmas. I’ll answer questions if/when they arise to the best of my ability. I won’t limit their exposure to people of any culture or religion. But for now? I think it’s OK if the savior means Santa Claus.

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Anything for Sleep!

“Twinkle, Twinkle” will no longer do. The only lullabies L will accept lately are ones about superheros. Problem: there are no lullabies about superheros. So, I make them up. Here’s my latest, to the tune of “You are my Sunshine”:

You are my Batman,
my only Batman.
You dress as Bruce Wayne
during the day.
But when there’s bad guys
you go to the Batcave.
And you get your super cool Bat-tools.

You use your Batarangs,
and the Bat-mobile.
And you wear a cape,
though you don’t fly.
You are always there
when the city needs you,
when you see your symbol in the sky.

 

You are my Batman,
my only Batman.
You dress as Bruce Wayne
during the day.
Your friends are Superman
and even Wonder Woman.
And together you all save the day.

Thank you. Thank you, very much.

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So This is Christmas

Ah, Christmas morning. My image of all of us in our PJs peacefully enjoying the morning, a big breakfast, opening presents, hanging out… was a little naive and idealistic. There was much more whining and crying involved. And overexcitement. And overstimulation. And far too many new things at once. And tiny scraps of paper everywhere.

There were definitely some sweet moments: S distractedly and happily playing with a ribbon while L tore through all of his gifts, and hers. L getting jump-up-and-down excited at everything from underwear to Pez dispensers to matchbox cars.

But as the pile of presents diminished, we made a critical tactical mistake: the last present was one for me. This sent L into a fit of despair. Crying, screaming, yelling “Stupid Mommy! Dammit Mommy!” This sent me into a rage. The ungrateful, spoiled #$%*&@…. You can imagine how it went.

As I’m about to collect all the gifts for donation to more deserving children, while lecturing something or other about children with no shoes who are grateful to play with sticks, T is amazingly understanding and actually lures L away with one of Santa’s cookies that we saved for him. What? Rewarding this brat??

Apparently, that’s what Christmas is about. It’s about parents (me) doing a ton of work, for a tiny moment of reward, and then a bit of abuse as the overindulged children fall apart. With so much buildup, so much excitement, so much anticipation, the actual opening of presents is bound to be a bit of a let down. It really has little to do with what is actually in the packages. The presents themselves are barely noticed in the rush to open the next, in the sheer thrill of the idea that a magical man snuck into our house, in the absolute relief that in the end, L was on the nice list!

Once again I foolishly let my expectations rise higher than what reality would serve me. Will I ever learn?

But now it’s later. The mess has been cleaned up and now the new toys are being discovered, without the frenzy of more packages waiting to be ripped into. As I write this, L is at my feet marveling over his new case full of matchbox cars that Santa brought him. He’s wearing his new Robin costume, complete with cape and mask. He’s asked if he could please have a bath later so he can try out his underwater flashlight and new hooded towel. He’s already changed his underpants twice because he just can’t decide which Batman pair is more awesome.

Certainly these few minutes of peace will be followed by more tears and tantrums. I get it now. Just because it’s Christmas, doesn’t mean that L isn’t still a 3-year-old. Expectations in check now. Once they are low enough, disappointment is near impossible.

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