Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Spirit of Christmas

The Mayor and I were out running zillions of holiday errands.

As you would expect, he was bombarded with shiny objects.

"Mom! I want this! Can we get that!"
Because we're not really a church going family, The Mayor hasn't had much exposure to the real meaning of Christmas.

I realized that, for him, the holiday is simply the time of year when we buy a tree, put it in our house, decorated it and, ultimately, open a lot of presents.

I thought maybe I should tell him what Christmas means.

[Remind me never to think again.]
"Do you know why we celebrate Christmas, Mayor?" I asked him.
"Why?" he said.

"Well, you've heard of Jesus, right?"


"Yes, Jesus. See, Christmas is the celebration of his birthday."
The Mayor didn't say anything.
"Do you want to hear the story of Christmas?"
He nodded.

"Okay, well... there was this lady named Mary who was pregnant, so she and her husband Joseph were coming to town to have the baby."

[And then, because I am a freakin' AWESOME storyteller, I added...]
"But Joseph wasn't the baby's father, God was the baby's father."
And then I thought...

Oh, great. The next time someone asks The Mayor if he knows who God is, he's going to say,
"Sure. God was Mary's Baby Daddy."
My Christmas story was off to a poor start.

I mean immaculate conception? Forget about it.

I'm not even going to try explaining that to a four year old.

I soldiered on, telling him how Mary and Joseph couldn't find any hotels so they had to stay in a barn with donkeys and sheep.

I said something about wise men, gifts and following the north star.

Then, realizing there was no way I would be able to connect any of it to decorated pine trees or ornaments, the story came to a sloppy and abrupt ending.

The Mayor was quiet for a few minutes.
"Mom, do you know any more stories about Jesus."

"Well, not by heart, no, not really. Ooooh, wait!" I shouted, "I know! There's this one where Jesus walked on water!"

"Was he magic?"


So let's see, so far I've invented a magician, born in a barn of a father who was not his mother's husband...

[Are you feeling the true meaning of Christmas?!!]

Later that day, The Mayor told me,
"Mom, if I had to pick only one super hero power, it would be walking on water."
[Are you feeling it now?]

[On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate The Mayor's religious upbringing so far?]


Merrily Down the Stream said...

Spot on!

Amy @ Milk Breath and Margaritas said...

Oh gosh honey, it's like a 2 - for effort or something.

There is a book called The Best Christmas Pageant Ever that is simply hilarious and slightly irreverent that he might like. It's about a family of horrible kids who have never been to church accidentally landing the main roles in the Christmas pageant at a church and they don't know the story.

It's very simple and very cute. And hilarious! It'll get you up to a 3.5.

Cat, Galloping said...

I got into trouble when church came up... by the time I was finished, Gatito's understanding was that church was where one goes to ask for presents. Oops.

Backpacking Dad said...

I think the Immaculate Conception is Mary's conception, not Jesus', making her a vessel pure enough to carry the son of God.

Or something.

So don't worry about explaining that one.

Although, ask a Catholic. :}

Anonymous said...

Ohhh man, hehee! Um, at least you made the effort to try and explain it all to him :] I would probably pick up a kid friendly Christmas story book for him.

But hey, honestly, water walking would be a pretty sweet ability to have anyhow. I don't know that if I could pick ANY super power I'd pick that one, but I definitely wouldn't complain.

And Jesus as a magician isn't really too bad when you consider the story of Santa! Billions of households and chimneys in 24 hours? Dude moves fast.

Joie said...

Yep. Immaculate conception is about the conception of Mary. I am not Catholic but am an Episcopal priest. Hmmm...I can tell you that if you want to step back a thousand years or so, there is this great author, Sandi Eisenberg-Sasso. She is a rabbi who writes non-sectarian religious books for children. You should get "And God Remembered" for Rooster and any of her other books for both your kids. Some of the best, non-screwed-up religious/spiritual writing out there and good for adults, too. I think you and K would like them as much or more than your little ones. Really. Look her up on

Stella said...

So, I'm a Theology teacher. I teach religion to high schoolers. Some days I feel like this is EXACTLY how I teach them.

At least you didn't tell him that Santa brought Jesus to Mary and Joseph because I kid you not, I've heard that one at least a half dozen times!!

Sayre said...

Laughing my ass off here... Sounds about like Z's religious training. Surprisingly, he's doing remarkably well on his own. He's got his own ideas about God (and not so much about Jesus), but understands that Christmas is about more than presents, it's about caring for your fellow man and helping out wherever you can. I wish I could take credit for that but I think osmosis played a role in that one.

Mad(ish) Woman said...

He thinks Jesus is a superhero. As long as he doesn't ask if Jesus came from Krypton like Superman, you should be fine!

Karly said...

You're doing better than me. I thought it was Moses who walked on water. I need to go to church. Or, you know, maybe not. :)

3carnations said...

It kind of sounds like he might like to go to church sometime to hear more stories.

I never went to church until I was in my 20s, so to me, Christmas was all about Santa as a child. My son already knows better than I did. :-)

Patois said...

I can't wait to see what his Jesus superhero costume looks like.

Kelly said...


A couple of years ago I experienced the same thing with my kids, so I went to the book stores and got lots of books. We read them all together and that just led to more questions. So many questions, and then the boy became skeptical...kind of like kids do with Santa. So I just gave up.

Besides, I live in the middle of the Bible Belt. I figure they'll get what they need from the rest of their environment. In fact, Little C came home from school the other day and said as she held up her middle finger flipping me the bird, "You know Mom if you do this, it means you hate God." See? Job done.

Not Hannah said...

Oh, holy night, Batman...that is hysterical!! We haven't really done the whole Jesus is the reason for the season thing either (yet) and I'm trying to figure out how to work the Solstice in to the whole mess as well.

I'm gonna give you an 8. I mean, dang. You tried, right?

furiousBall said...

you did very well. i suck at the church talk.

Annie said...

Backpacking Dad is right :).

Jesus' Birth is known as the virginal birth - but the immaculate conception refers to Mary's conception within her mother's womb.

I know this doesn't really help much - I don't think I'd want to get into explaining 'virginal birth' to a preschooler either :)

ms. changes pants while driving said...

definitely an 11.

Sugarplum's Mom said...

I'm with Not Hannah... if you want to explain about the trees and such you have to start looking at the pagan traditions and the winter solstice right?
Because isn't THAT really what December 25th is about? According to my college religion class, Jesus was actually born sometime in the spring or summer about 4 B.C. and it was the crusaders who took the winter solstice celebrations and made them about Jesus and the "christmas story" in order to convert people to Christianity.

Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...


I recently told MY 4yo my version of the baby Jesus/Christmas story. I think no matter *what* you do they'll pick up on parts of the conversation you hadn't expected.

Magpie said...

You rock, honey, that's all I've got to say.

Above Average Joe said...

Jesus, a superhero that can walk on water and pull rabbits out of his crown of thorns.


Mrs Shew said...

thank you, I needed that laugh oh so much today!

Deb on the Rocks said...

Sounds a lot like my children's biblical education. The Holy Ghost was my eldest's big stumbling block.

mo.stoneskin said...

OK, next post, I want to hear you explain the immaculate conception to a four-year-old.

Lisa said...

Jesus was a super hero of sorts. And yes, I can't wait to hear you explain the immaculate conception either. (And in reading through these comments, I didn't know that about the immaculate conception.

bernthis said...

I think it was great but then again, I joined a synagogue this year b/c I thought it would be a great place to find a guy that wanted to touch me.


katy said...

That's why I took my kids to church when they were young, let someone else try to explain it to them. I know I couldn't have done it.

Mac and Cheese said...

He knows about as much as I know now.

Penny said...

Well, he picked up on the 'superhero'ness of the savior. That's pretty fantastic and probably not so much by accident as you might think. ;)

Wendy said...

I'm with katy. That's where the lutheran preschool helped. She came home one day saying they talked about Baby Jesus and I was all "ohhhhhh??" But this time of year, I think "thank you, guys!!"

Amanda said...

So far this season Ave has learned about "the baby geezun" and (after one too many covering the babydoll with pillows incident that if you aren't careful, "da state'll take your baby." Oy.