Often times, when I am presented with a vexing problem, a moral conundrum, or a difficult choice, I ask myself a simple question.
What would Larry do?
Here’s my deal: Mom – non-practicing Jew. Dad – Catholic. Me – agnostic/borderline atheist (Beth has the same deal, only reversed: Mom – non-practicing Christian. Dad – non-practicing Jew). This up until two years ago was not a problem. Indeed, I took a very Larry-ish approach to the Holiday Question. Celebrate both! And by celebrate, I don’t mean sitting in a church or temple listening to some old guy in robes yammering on in Latin or Hebrew. I mean celebrate – like going to the Christmas parties, putting up a tree, playing Dreidle For Shots, gorging myself on Chocolate Gelt, getting presents on the 25th AND a bonus Eight Crazy Nights of Comin’ Up On Loot! That, my friends, is the true perk of being a half-breed mongrel. Lots of fun to be had at year’s end. It’s a good deal. Prettaaay, prettaaaay, prettaaaaaay good!
Yet these days, I find myself wondering about Lucas, and how we’re going to explain Christmas to him. When he asks what Christmas means and why we celebrate it and what Hannukah means and why we celebrate that too…sticky stuff, folks. I spent a good deal of my childhood in the Midwest, and lemme tellya – ain’t a whole lotta the Chosen in Oklahoma, Illinois, and Nebraska. I had to field a lot of questions about why I didn’t go to church and didn’t believe in Jesus and was I nervous about spending eternity in the fires of Hell and so forth.
Here’s how I see it. Christmas these days means different things to different people. Yes, it’s a Christian holiday, but I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say that many people who celebrate Christmas don’t consider themselves Christians (or aren’t considered “Christians” by other “Christians”). To me, the holiday season is about a lot of things – family, fellowship, peace on earth, even tipping the cap to my dad’s heritage. I’m of a mind to let the kid make up his own mind about faith and God and religion – in a way, I feel very fortunate that I have roots in two very deep cultures, and it’s pretty cool that we get to partake in the traditions of both. I’m sure that Lucas will feel the same way.
Well, I have a few years to think about the Christmas Talk With Lucas. Luckily, there are plenty of educational films out there to help me with this.