Eclectic spirits--How do you approach Christmas with your kids? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 24 Old 11-26-2011, 10:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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How do you talk to your kids about the religious aspects of the Christmas celebration?  Especially when you are not technically Christian (note the capital "C"!)?  Or if your views don't exactly fit with your church?  How do you explain the lyrics of the Christmas carols?  Why do you celebrate it in the first place?

 

 


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#2 of 24 Old 11-26-2011, 10:59 AM
 
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by staring with truth- Christmas isn't christian and Easter isn't either

 

we hate "Christmas music and carols" so that's easy!

 

facts/history behind the origins of the holidays (tree, holy, eggs, bunnies, etc) are great starters


 

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#3 of 24 Old 11-26-2011, 09:43 PM
 
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I teach DS (5yo) about the different beliefs for the different holidays. For example, I told him about Yule and the sun coming back. Then, when he asked about a book on the Christmas Story, I told him about Jesus being like the sun for Christians. (Better then DH, who read the book saying "hey-soos" instead of Jesus.)


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#4 of 24 Old 11-29-2011, 05:19 AM
 
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I don't mind carols as long as there are some really freat fun songs mixed in. I do teach the story of the nativity and I love teaching about angels. I am kind of christian, as I beleive in Jesus and God, but not so much in the angry god of the Old Testament. Now if a holiday were revolved around that, we would just skip it.
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#5 of 24 Old 11-29-2011, 08:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I do sing carols, mainly because they are musically very beautiful to me.  I do need to explain some things, like "Lord" and those things.  (Like "Round yon virgin" hmmmm.....)  I can feel pretty torn, but in the end the music wins out.  

 

We celebrate Christmas, I'm afraid, because I have always celebrated it (lame reason, but honest) but I do let my girls know that this is the time of year we celebrate Jesus' birth, even though we don't know when his birthday is.  I have to explain Jesus to them and why we would even celebrate his birth.  Funny that we would celebrate the birth of a man who stated in no uncertain terms that we needed to give up all our worldly possessions by spending billions of dollars on Stuff.  But there it is.  Solstice time is so dark and rainy here, one of the dreariest times of the year, that the lights, the sparkly tree, all the trappings of Christmas are most welcome.  We also celebrate the Solstice in our own way, and I let them know that the Solstice and Yule is why we celebrate Christmas when we do.

 

As the years pass I know that we will explore this time in more depth.


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#6 of 24 Old 11-29-2011, 10:46 AM
 
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 Funny that we would celebrate the birth of a man who stated in no uncertain terms that we needed to give up all our worldly possessions by spending billions of dollars on Stuff

 

 

you need some history here - you need to understand the reason the Catholic church picked that date! and reason behind gifts

 

now it's not in-depth but the "history of--" on the History Channel does a good starter program, they have one on Halloween as well, and goes a bit into the "reasoning" behind a few thing- the date had to do with Yule, same goes for Easter (all about those wayyyyyy tooooo merry pagans!)

 

 

http://shop.history.com/detail.php?p=285192&v=history&ecid=PRF-2103905&pa=PRF-2103905

 

http://www.history.com/topics/halloween

http://www.history.com/topics/christmas

http://www.history.com/photos/christmas-history-of-santa-claus

http://www.history.com/topics/history-of-easter

http://www.history.com/topics/easter-symbols


 

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#7 of 24 Old 11-29-2011, 05:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the links--  I love that kind of stuff.  I'll have to look at it a bit later though.  Those crazy pagans!

 

I'd love to find some good kid-friendly books for celebrating Yule.  For Winter Solstice I like to read (or tell) the stories of Raven Steals the Light or the story of how the animals of the Earth journeyed to the sky to bring back the bag of light that Bear was hoarding in a sack.  I know of another with a spider.  I know these are more creation myths, but I find them very appropriate for the season.  We celebrate Solstice dinner by turning out all the lights in the house, lighting several candles and sitting down to a fancy dinner, just our little family.  

 

For Jesus stories and songs, I like best the ones that focus on the Christ child in the stable, like the Friendly Beasts, and (the book) Who Is Coming to Our House?.  My girls are still quite young yet.  I don't mind nativity stories, but they get sooooo religious (Our Lord etc. etc.) that I just can't bear them.  I end up having to tell the story myself, which is not a bad alternative.  Still looking for just the right book.  I'm sorry, but while I celebrate Jesus' birth, he's really just a Cool Dude, not a god-figure to me, though I find the metaphors fascinating and like nothing better than to sit and listen to those who have studied this subject in depth.  So, naturally, back to the links-- thanks!

 

 


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#8 of 24 Old 11-29-2011, 07:44 PM
 
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oh history network! thank you thats awesome

 

My family celebrated christmas in the normal sense, santa and big dinner, watch christmas movies, attended christmas mass only a few times in my life, maybe more before me (im the last of 4)

 

I would still like to give my son the same experiences, however I made a decision during pregnancy that there will be no elaborate stories of Santa coming into our house and these are from Santa gifts. I remember the day i found out about the easter bunny and tooth fairy and santa and i felt terrible, i believe in providing him with the whole truth and nothing but, he's only 2 ! i got time to work through the details but that's my stance

 

I think it's ok to submerge yourself in celebrating these traditional holidays, but I would like to share all seasonal holidays with him. We have a advent fair to go to, some caroling at my mother's denomination church, we did do a Santa picture, but you know give him the whole picture of all cultures ( were rural so if i intend to venture into other cultures, ill have to get creative and read up!)

 

I have to catch myself frequently though since Im raising him different from what i was, i guess my thing is to teach him the story of jesus's birth and a lovely man (santa) who we share gifts with each other on behalf of? no milk and cookies business (sorry to say) maybe ill stretch it to be symbolic of sharing goodies to all children and others before bed, not sure but thank you for posting the thread, this will be good convo!


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#9 of 24 Old 11-29-2011, 07:55 PM
 
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I only have the Halloween book and it is really for older children (5+) not really a picture book 

 

but she wrote others - http://www.amazon.com/Edna-Barth/e/B001IXMCKE

 

the Halloween book is very good, so if the others are like that it would be a start- at least check it out and see if this helps you (most libraries should have her stuff)

 

she gets into the "symbols" and that is easy for children to get


 

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#10 of 24 Old 11-30-2011, 07:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, that looks like a good start. Last night on the way to bed, my oldest, 6.75yo, started talking about what the Christmas colors mean.  She mentioned that red was for Jesus' blood.  Wow, pretty good!  (Did I mention blood?)  I told her the story of mistletoe, or at least what I know.  I described how it grows on the oak trees, and how in spring when all the leaves are finally gone, the mistletoe looks like great spheres of fireworks suspended in the tree.  I told them the story of holly and the crown of thorns and the blood.  I am so impressed with my kids sometimes.

 

I look forward to adding more to the story.


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#11 of 24 Old 11-30-2011, 07:30 AM
 
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Actually the red and green belongs to the pagans. Long before xtians these were the colors of winter solstice with the holly and the ivy. Pagans had long decorated their home with evergreens at solstice/saturnalia time..... the bible has a verse that frowns on it but the pagans won this one and now all xtians think these things are "xtian".
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#12 of 24 Old 11-30-2011, 10:07 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Actually the red and green belongs to the pagans. Long before xtians these were the colors of winter solstice with the holly and the ivy. Pagans had long decorated their home with evergreens at solstice/saturnalia time..... the bible has a verse that frowns on it but the pagans won this one and now all xtians think these things are "xtian".


Interesting.  I thought that the holly was a replacement for the mistletoe.  Shows you how much more I have to learn!  

 


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#13 of 24 Old 11-30-2011, 11:02 AM
 
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Nope, holly was pagan, too.

http://catholicexchange.com/2002/12/23/93348/
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#14 of 24 Old 11-30-2011, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My oldest daughter and I watched all the video links, and I read most of the article on holly and mistletoe.  I love the part about woodland spirits!  


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#15 of 24 Old 11-30-2011, 11:34 AM
 
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Here's a good one!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCVt_j1A68c&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9H9Fi4Qcus&feature=related

I wish my own childhood could have been more like this!
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#16 of 24 Old 11-30-2011, 12:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's because of my mother that I am the way I am.  While we were nominally Christian, religion didn't really enter our lives, except celebrating Christmas and Easter baskets (once I got a milk chocolate cross!  Can I eat this??biglaugh.gif)  She was always open to other beliefs when they came up.  That's why it was a shock when she visited me as an adult and faked sobbed that her granddaughter was "living in sin (short gasp!)"  

 

I am a bit more proactive about celebrations and spirituality, hopefully preserving that openness that my mother demonstrated.


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#17 of 24 Old 11-30-2011, 02:28 PM
 
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and at Easter you can eat "pagan" buns! just mess up the frosting cross!

 

and by the way we don't hand our tree upside down 


 

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#18 of 24 Old 11-30-2011, 07:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The question still remains in my mind how do other observant folks, especially those who are only nominally Christian (or not really even that, as in my case) talk about the birth of Jesus and the celebration of it with their kids?  And why do our families celebrate it at all?  (Beyond my own lame excuse of "because that's the way we've always done it".)  

 

Why are we not just celebrating Solstice, Yule, Saturnalia, whatever?  I know in my family we do try to honor the ancient celebrations in our own way, but still we celebrate Christmas, and I hope that we can make sure that it is not just a blind tradition.  What is left for those of us who don't buy into the Christian myth lock, stock and barrel?  I have my own reasons (and excuses).  

 

I think I'm pushing the subject matter a bit, so I apologize in advance.  I don't mean my curious questions to sound judgmental at all, no no no.  This has all been fun....

 

 


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#19 of 24 Old 12-01-2011, 06:25 AM
 
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DH is Christian and I identify as Buddhist but we all celebrate Christmas and I am trying to make the holiday season as sacred as possible, in a wide sense, for DD (she's 4).  My best friend is Jewish, so we get to celebrate Chanukkah with her too and DD is hearing all the stories of the various holidays around this time of year.  With Christmas itself, we are talking about celebrating the "birthday" of Jesus (more like celebrating that he was born at all, not the particular day) and doing things that reflect the spirit of Jesus--giving and sharing, helping others, letting people we are close to know how much they are loved, etc.  I don't believe in Jesus as a Savior but think that so many of his teachings on compassion and mercy are exactly what I want to teach my child and that is worth celebrating anytime.  We tell her that her father and I believe different things and that she is free to learn about all different ideas and pick what works best for her.  So, we listen to Christmas music, go to Chanukkah parties, talk about Solstice and the return of the sun and then try to put it all into action--picking out stuff for Toys for Tots, donating food and clothes, making gifts for others, making suncatcher crafts, whatever works.  Hope that helps and that you have a lovely holiday season.  


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#20 of 24 Old 12-02-2011, 03:14 PM
 
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and I hope that we can make sure that it is not just a blind tradition.



My family participates in Christmas because it is partially a family and fully a regional tradition -- I don't really view that as blind.  It's mostly just saying that while the origins and history of it are not important to me, people and place are.  And it's enjoyable, which is certainly valuable for its own sake.  When a non-Muslim relative joined me in a Muslim-majority country over Eid, she didn't say, "no, no, I'm not of your religion ... these feasts and gifts and good times everyone around me are enjoying are not for me."  She took part.  And was welcome to.  And had fun.  Which was not blind either -- it was just participating in pleasantries on the level that are open to all, without bothering one way or the other about the parts that require more full religious participation.

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#21 of 24 Old 12-03-2011, 07:55 AM
 
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I am enjoying all of these replies!

 

More and more, I am growing to see Christmas as an entire season -- the winter season -- which is all about going deep in order to truly feel the life that we all are. So we celebrate the birth of Jesus, because He brought new life to a people who felt trapped by the belief that every time somebody did something wrong, it could only be made right by blood and suffering.

 

I no longer believe that punishment is a necessary, or even a desirable, component of restoration and renewal of right relationships -- but I used to feel a need to know that my sin was "paid for," so I do see the value of Christianity as a stepping-stone that enabled/enables certain groups of people to move into really being able to feel their connection to the life and goodness that they/we all really are at the core.

 

When I've been out walking our dog lately, I've been struck by the sense that this is the season where life goes underground and is not so obvious -- yet it is still very much there. The sensation of remaining warm throughout the walk reminds me that I am life...I am warmth. This is a season where we share our warmth with one another. We find ways to draw close to those who are slipping into coldness due to depression, loneliness, discouragement, or any reason.

 

I do love Christmas carols! What's most enjoyable to me is listening to one of our local stations that plays a wide range of every kind of Christmas music.

 

For us, the season starts on Thanksgiving when we put up our tree. This year, we started a new family tradition of going to our city's Plaza on the evening of Thanksgiving to see the turning on of the Christmas lights and the fireworks display. This year, I'd also like to start a new tradition of making a Yule log cake to celebrate the longest night of the year and the turning of the wheel of the year back toward springtime, and a new tradition of making the Italian cake, Tiramisu, to celebrate New Years'. 


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#22 of 24 Old 12-03-2011, 09:24 AM - Thread Starter
 
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When I've been out walking our dog lately, I've been struck by the sense that this is the season where life goes underground and is not so obvious -- yet it is still very much there. The sensation of remaining warm throughout the walk reminds me that I am life...I am warmth. This is a season where we share our warmth with one another. We find ways to draw close to those who are slipping into coldness due to depression, loneliness, discouragement, or any reason.

 


I like this paragraph.  Yes, the darkness is the time that the energy flows inward, tight into the dormant seeds and roots to wait for the return of the sun when life springs out exuberantly.  It is a time of self-reflection, but also a time for people to bind together, to strengthen the roots of the entire community.  Just like a forest, roots are intricately bound together, dependent on each other.  When one set of roots fail, it weakens the entire area.  OK, I'm off rambling.  But the best ideas inspire me to do that.  Thanks for inspiring me, reminding me of this.  Thanks for sharing!


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#23 of 24 Old 12-03-2011, 03:17 PM
 
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I like this paragraph.  Yes, the darkness is the time that the energy flows inward, tight into the dormant seeds and roots to wait for the return of the sun when life springs out exuberantly.  It is a time of self-reflection, but also a time for people to bind together, to strengthen the roots of the entire community.  Just like a forest, roots are intricately bound together, dependent on each other.  When one set of roots fail, it weakens the entire area.  OK, I'm off rambling.  But the best ideas inspire me to do that.  Thanks for inspiring me, reminding me of this.  Thanks for sharing!



Thank you for sharing, too! You've just inspired me, too! I love your root analogy...it reminds me of the fact that we are not separate entities...we are all connected and we need each other!

 


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#24 of 24 Old 12-03-2011, 07:18 PM
 
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Growing up, my brother and I had no clue that Christmas had anything to do with Jesus's birth (nothing conscious--we saw various Christmas pagents but it never sunk in) nor Easter was about his resurrection.  For us, Christmas was Santa (Mom/Dad), presents, and food.  Easter was the Easter bunny and baskets.  Our Aunt was much more religious and I remember talking about making Jesus a bday cake and we thought that was so strange.  I attended Sunday school when I was little, but as we got older, we became holiday-only Christians.

 

So, now I'm Muslim--my kids know that Santa isn't real (although that he's based on a guy who gave gifts a long long time ago.)  Yet, they also know that many little kids do believe in him--so we don't ruin their fun.  They get a few Christmas presents when they visit my parents, but we don't have presents at home.  I've told them that this is the day that many people celebrate Prophet Isa's (Jesus in Arabic) birthday--although he was probably born in the Spring.  We do, however, read the book "Sun Bread" on Winter Solstice and talk about that.  We also like to decorate our house with snowflakes and such to celebrate winter.  Sometimes we bake Christmas cookies...and we love to go look at all of the lights.  As they get older, we'll probably talk about the origins of Christmas (and other holidays). 

 

We try and be inclusive, rather than exclusive regarding holidays.  So, we'll also have latkes and donuts around Hanukkah time and play with dreidels.  We talk about what Hanukkah is about (celebrating one of God's miracles)...and they have fun.  We've talked about diwali and holi as well.   And next week, we'll make a special pudding called Noah's pudding (because the story goes it was made with all that was left on the ark to celebrate spotting the rainbow)... and we'll talk about ashurah. 


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