Friday, December 16, 2011

The Meaning of Christmas

I have been neglectful in the parenting of my children, it has become apparent.

First, my 6th grader announced that her classmates laughed at her because she didn't know who AC/DC is. Time to start cranking up the classic rock station instead of Tween Radio on Pandora! In fact, that very day, I put it on in the car and gave her a quick synopsis of The Wall.

 "So that's where you and Daddy get that, "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat, thing!""

Yes; that's where we got it.

Next up was Ozzy Osborne and Crazy Train and then she told me she didn't much like this kind of music.

"It's too loud, Mom. It sounds like they are screaming at each other. Can you stop singing, please?"

So much for that. We hadn't even gotten to Rush or The Who or The Rolling Stones. Whose kid is this?

Even worse, however, was my fourth grader's lack of understanding of pop culture. She claimed she had never seen A Charlie Brown Christmas. I found this hard to believe, but she insisted that it was true. In fact, last night as she watched it with Hombre, I heard her exclaim (loudly, of course), "So that's what you mean by a Charlie Brown Christmas tree!"

Clearly I have some work to do.

My girls may not "get" a lot of pop culture references (after all, we have no cable!), but they do understand the meaning of Christmas, at least "our" meaning of Christmas.

Hombre's and my families are religiously diverse: Catholics, Jews, Presbyterians, Lutherans, Methodists, non-believers, lapsed believers and everything in between. One reason we all get along so well is that we (generally) have tolerance and respect for each other. Our flavor in this unlikely stew is Unitarian Universalism. We have raised our kids in this tradition and to do so requires a willingness to answer a lot of questions.

Unitarian Universalism's guiding belief is that each person must engage in her own search for truth and that there are many paths to the divine. There is no pre-written script to read from nor a designated recipe for salvation. For more about what UU's believe, go here.

My children know the story of Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus and they know that many people consider Jesus divine. They know that before there was Jesus, many people celebrated the Winter Solstice on a date that falls, not coincidentally, close to December 25. They know that during this "dark" time of the year, other cultures and religions have celebrations involving light, such as the miracle of sacred oil that lasted for eight days.

For us, the Solstice is a celebration of the divine rhythm of nature and the universe. It reflects our hope and trust in the cycles of the seasons. For us, the story of the birth of Jesus shows us how all children, even the most humble and poor, have the spark of the divine within them. Even a child born in such circumstances can have an important message to share and each child born is truly a gift to all of humanity.

Yes, we perpetuated the Santa Claus myth and we fully enjoyed it. This will be the first year that we have no believers in the house and that's okay. My kids understand that, just as we all have the spark of the divine within us, we can all be Santa Claus by sharing gifts and kindnesses with others.

Of course, they also know that every time a bell rings, an angel gets his wings.


  1. What freaks me out, every time I read one of your posts, is that we seem to be the same person. If I go look in the mirror right now, will I see you? I suspect so.

    Off to wrap a few more Solstice gifts now...

  2. So much to love about this post Meg. Your babies aren't missing a thing.

  3. love this one Meg, brilliant.
    heather torok