Eve of Christmas Eve

December 25, 2007

Neither my wife nor I are religious believers. My wife loves Christmas; for her it seems to epitomize domesticity; a well appointed house with a tastefully decorated tree is a work of art; and a very small group of compatible people gathered together in harmony with good food in beautiful surroundings represents the best of human interaction and values. My feelings about Christmas are more conflicted; my lack of enthusiasm often irritated her. Over the years our reactions to Christmas have gradually evolved to be more relaxed and more compatible.

As a child, our daughter believed in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy. We played along with it. In the case of Santa, a very bad little boy named George who lived next door disillusioned her in kindergarten.

We chose not to raise our daughter as a religious believer. We didn’t make an energetic effort to “indoctrinate her” as an atheist, though we were irritated when a baby sitter started talking to her about Jesus without checking with us first. If our daughter had decided to become a religious believer at an age where we felt she was capable of making adult decisions, we would have accepted it. However, when she grew up and expressed beliefs similar to ours, we were happy that her beliefs were fairly close to ours.

The Barely Extended Family came to our Little House in the Middle-Sized Woods for an eve of Christmas Eve dinner. Random Granddaughter had a good time at times and a very stressful time at other times (mostly meal times). More about that later.

RG has been raised mostly without exposure to television. She has watched a couple of educational videotapes at preschool; that’s about it. She seems to have very little concept of television as a significant part of life.

We have a videotape of The Grinch. We decided to watch it as a family. I was curious about how she would react to the first television drama she would watch.

She watched intently and quietly without much comment or visible reaction.

Later Mommy (my daughter’s partner) said RG had been a little perturbed by the Grinch’s bad behavior and a little perturbed that she had been watching a “tay-vay” show, something she perceived as “bad.” My daughter and her partner quizzed each other a little sharply about who had been communicating to RG that television is “bad”; each denied talking to her in that fashion.

Later, while RG was taking a nap, Random Daughter and Out of Law Partner talked about what they were going to say to her about Jesus.

[More about the religious education of RG later.]


5 Responses to “Eve of Christmas Eve”

  1. NObody Says:

    it sounds weird, it sounds weirder and weirder with each next generation.
    We think we are getting smarter and we think that telling kids everything earlier and earlier is better.
    As much as it is interesting as to what they will come up with, it might be the stupidest or the smartest explanation.
    No matter what, there is no explanation to the beginning of life, no way no how.
    It is like with the question of who was first, the chicken or the egg.

    (my grandma always said not to call the gods name without a need)

  2. How interesting that RG perceives the TV as a bad thing.

    From an adult perspective, while my religious education provided some extraordinary stress and misery, I find that I am genuinely grateful for exposure to the Bible as a literary work, if only because reference to it is so extensive in many of the great literature of the Western world. As a religious text, I don’t take it seriously; as a book of instructional tales, archetypes, metaphors, and fables, it’s hard to beat.

  3. modestypress Says:

    In terms of television, I suspect that RG thinks she is supposed to consider TV as a bad thing. It’s not exactly a “bad thing,” so much as a dangerous thing (in that it is so absurdly easy for little children to be put into a hypnotic trance by it). I guess the goal would be for her to be able to use TV sensibly, much as when she gets older, we would hope that she will be able to use alcohol and eventually sex sensibly. Calibration on these matters is enormously difficult for human beings.

    Your take on the Bible is pretty close to mine. I read it at a very young age without much adults input or supervision. I think that immature experience left me confused and hostile. I would hope that RG gets a better start with the whole matter. Maybe next time I see her, instead of reading Curious George, I should start with Adam and Eve?

    I don’t think that will work either.

  4. Vicky Says:

    I find it “interesting” that such “broad minded” “liberal” people would be uncomfortable telling children about such an important part of History.

  5. modestypress Says:

    “Uncomfortable” is not quite the same thing as being careful and thoughtful.

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