My kids love religion. They don’t know many of the particulars, to say the least. In fact, as far as they know, religion usually just means no school, treats aplenty, and quite often, presents.
One day last year my kindergartner came home from school looking very guilty. Finally, she revealed the source of her sheepishness: “Mom, today I lied to my teacher. To my whole class! I told them that we celebrated Yom Kippur.” Her remorse quickly turned to claps and giggles when I explained that, since her dad was Jewish, we could observe the holy day: “Really?! Do we get prizes, Mommy!”
Oy vey! Clearly, she didn’t catch that whole bit about atonement.
As my kids get older, my own guilt about dishing up the easy-peasy platter of religion is beginning to mount. When they were babies, I loved to spoil them with both Christmas and Hanukkah, but these days I feel a bit irresponsible, and kind of crass.
I was raised in a strict Catholic home, and we definitely had to work for our Christmas morning -- church every Sunday, no exceptions. My kids think that the Catholic church down the street is a castle and that “Jesus is God’s fairy.” They’ve never stepped foot inside.
It’s tricky because I love the rituals, but these days I’m not huge on faith. Am I raising overindulged heathens?
This clip from Eddie Izzard’s “Dressed to Kill” makes me laugh (loudly) but also kind of cringe, because the absurdity he exposes is a little too familiar.
Turns out, I’m not the only one with religiously confused offspring. CNN recently published the results of a survey, inspired by the book Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know -- And Doesn’t by Stephen Prothero, who writes for CNN’s religious blog. When 3,400 random Americans were quizzed on their biblical knowledge, world religions, and the religious rights in the Constitution, the majority flunked -- getting 50 percent or less of the 32 questions right. Interestingly, it was the agnostics and atheists who scored the highest.
The #1 predictor of a good score was education.
How to celebrate has been on my mind a lot with the holidays careening toward us. I think that this Christmukkah in my house we will concentrate on fun facts and religious history, amid a sea of gingerbread, gifts, latkes, tinsel. I can’t wait!
How do you handle the holidays in your house?
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