I started this post a week ago, intending to publish it on Christmas Eve… There is always more to do on Christmas Eve than I imagine. Here we are almost to New Year's Eve and I'm finally finishing it up. I thought about saving it until next year, but decided that it is never the wrong time of year to share our family work toward love & peace. Happy New Year and Belated Christmas Blessings to you!
My family celebrated Christmas when I was a child – a secular and somewhat Paganized version. We did know the traditional story of Christmas and I've always loved it. My husband grew up going to church and had a more conventional Christmas. In our house now we celebrate Solstice and Christmas.
When Brother-Bug was little, we were unsure of what to do with The Christmas Story. I'm mostly Pagan. Papa-Bug is mostly curious. Of all the things we want our kids to learn, respect, acceptance, diversity, and trust rank up at the top of the list. Both of us are well educated in biblical history and scripture, and we generally agree that Jesus was an amazing person. We aren't sold on the “one and only savior” aspect; we both see that God/The Divine is too big for People to fully comprehend. So what to do with The Christmas Story?
It's an important story and we can't ignore or escape it. We live in a culture that is largely based on the Judeo-Christian stories. These things inform our lives and give words to our carols. It's beautiful. A story of a family, of a baby, of angels and magic.
We tell our kids the following version, devoid of religious dogma, hoping to instill in them a sense of wonder, an understanding of Christmas that is bigger than Santa Claus, and a desire to learn more about The Divine.
Once upon a time there was a young woman named Mary. She was deep in meditation and prayer when an angel came to her and told her she would have a baby. The angel told her that the baby would be a great Peacemaker and would try to show people that we are all children of The Divine. As the baby grew, he would show people God's Love.
When it was almost time for the baby to be born, Mary and her husband Joseph were on a long trip to a city called Bethlehem. When they got there, the rooms at all the inns and homes were full of other travelers. Mary started to feel the baby was coming. Finally, an innkeeper said that the little family could stay in his stable for the night.
In the stable that night, surrounded by the animals, Mary gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. He was red and made silly noises and faces like every newborn. She and Joseph loved him with all their hearts.
In nearby fields there were shepherds tending sheep. An angel appeared before them and told them of the nearby birth. The angel said the baby was in a stable and the family was cold. The shepherds gathered fleece from the sheep and went to see the new baby and share the warm wool with the family. When people share from their hearts, Peace is created and spreads through the world. By sharing with the baby, Peace started to grow.
There were three Magi – wise men and magicians – from faraway lands. Their magic had told them a very important baby would soon be born and they travelled day and night to find the baby. In their travels they met many people of different countries and ways. As they learned new ways and shared their ways with others, Peace grew even more.
When the wise men and shepherds found the new baby the knelt and worshipped him because, like every new baby, he was a miracle.
The baby was Jesus. God and The Divine sent him to Earth to spread Peace. He was born to remind us that we are all children of God. He was born to teach us to fear neither birth nor death, but to celebrate these journeys. He was just a little baby, once upon a time on Christmas in Bethlehem, who helped the world have just a little more Peace.
I want the Little-Bugs to know the story. I want them to love and respect traditions and religion, and be able to make up their own minds about what their connection to The Divine is. I want them to love and enjoy Christmas as more than a secular, consumption driven extravaganza. I want them to learn about the Love and Peace that Christ shared with the world before they learn the many other messages about Him.
We have a Playmobil nativity and several gorgeous books about the Christmas Story (my two favorites that are in keeping with what we want to teach are There Was No Snow On Christmas Eve and Santa's Favorite Story). We play pretends all the time, taking on different roles (I frequently play The Angel of God!) and incorporating other favorite characters like The BFG or Peter Pan into the birth of Christ. We read The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (B. Robinson) this year. I think our kids love the story. I hope these positive feelings last them lifetime. I hope they take Jesus' message of Peace and Love out into the world as they grow.
It's all about Love.