Palm Sunday Makes Me Wish I Was Religious

Nicole Fabian-Weber

churchLast night my husband and I wound up at a random Mexican restaurant in a small town in New Jersey (loooong story, don't ask). Over jumbo chicken tacos and pork burritos that were surprisingly good, we got to talking about Palm Sunday, and how we weren't doing anything for it.

It would be kind of crazy for us to "celebrate," as neither one of us is religious like that (we like to think we have our own special relationship with God, or the Universe, or Whatever). But, sometimes, like today, when I see throngs of people brandishing palm leaves in the shapes of braided crosses, I kind of wish I was.

Growing up, I did the "Catholic thing." I went to CCD after school. I made my Confirmation. I got ashes on my forehead once a year on a Wednesday in February. Holidays weren't just excuses to eat and drink in excess, they actually had a meaning behind them. Now, years later, when I skip straight to the "gifts" part of Christmas, I often wonder: What am I going to teach my kids?

To instill the same religious beliefs I learned growing up in my kid -- when I do eventually have one -- is something I just can't do. Call me an infidel, but believing in only one religion's set of convictions is just not for me. I wouldn't feel comfortable teaching a tiny person some of the things I was taught growing up, because I simply don't believe them. Of course, I respect it if you do, though.

That being said, when Easter rolled around, and my sister and I scoured the house for our hidden baskets, it felt like something that was earned. At 7 or 8, we may not have been totally grasping the concept of the holiday and the events that preceded it, but we knew that it was about more than $5 bills tucked into plastic eggs, and pink and purple jellybeans.

So, what will we do then when Easter and Christmas come around when my husband and I are parents? Call me superficial, but I have no intentions of depriving my miniature humans of the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. That would be crazy. But I also don't want them to think that every couple months they get a pile of gifts "just 'cause." Not only do I want my children to be appreciative, I want them to believe in something.

The good news is we don't have kids, so my husband and I have plenty of time to map out a course of action and drum up a set of beliefs to present to our child when he or she can eventually grasp it. This is something we will most definitely do. (And, no, it won't involve fairy dust or unicorns.) Will it be weird not taking our child to church on Palm Sunday, so they can receive a pretty, little palm cross they can leave on their dresser for months to come? A little. But I think it would be a lot weirder if we did.

What beliefs do you instill in your children? Have you come up with any new ones from the ones you were taught?


Image via St.John'sFlowerGuild/Flickr

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