Mommy, Have I Been A Good Boy This Year?

My eldest son, Olinga, asked me that question yesterday while I was buckling him into his car seat.

"Of course you've been a very good boy! You share with your brother, you work hard in school, you clean your room and brush your teeth, and you say your prayers every night." I obviously had to make sure I got all the right messaging into that response...can't leave out the room cleaning piece.

"So Santa is going to bring me alot of presents on Christmas, right?"

My first thought was to give him props for being a smart and logical boy. My second thought was that I'm going to seem like the grinch because we don't celebrate Christmas and I'm not buying any Christmas presents. What five year-old wants to hear how we can be happy for our Christian (and athiest/agnostic) friends that are celebrating Christmas, and participate in their celebrations if we're invited? I'm still waiting for someone to ask us to go to church with them on Christmas Eve, but that's another post. My third thought is that I don't care if I seem like a grinch.

I'm not the kind of parent to deny his participation in the holiday program at school. He had a good time dressing up as Rudolph. I actually think it's stupid to call it a holiday program. Let's face it, it's a Christmas program. I don't see any songs commemorating Eid-al-Adha, the Muslim feast that takes place on the 31st of December.

I'm not against decorations. I put up a string of lights on our windows. But I also put up red, green and gold lights to celebrate Black History Month. We did purple and orange ones at Halloween and red, white and blue on the 4th of July.

I just can't get down with the, "Well it was a pagan holiday anyway so why not get a tree and a few presents?" type of mentality. Last time I checked, paganism wasn't that great of a thing...the animal sacrifice and orgies have got to go, you know.

I think I'm pretty ok with telling him that we're Baha'is and we don't celebrate Christmas in those ways. I'm not going to say, "Well, because we have ____day instead!" No Baha'i holy day will ever be able to compete with the millions of advertising dollars invested in fostering Christmas hype. That's probably a good thing.


Anonymous said…
Hi Liz - I can't believe how old Olinga is getting!

I also don't envy the Christmas with Baha'i kids dilemma. I fully remember the traumatic "there is no Santa" conversation my parents had with me when I was 5. And the added, "but you can't tell any of your friends because they don't know yet" didn't help.

But, in the long run I appreciate our lower-key approach to the holidays. 20-some years later even our all-Christian extended family opts for dinner and time together as opposed to going all out on gifts that we aren't sure anyone actually wants.

Junk Monkey said…
As a born again Atheist I have trouble with the whole Christmas thing with my kids too. I find it easy to go along with the idea of Father Christmas and the the whole North European midwinter festival thing because, let's face it, I'm a North European, and midwinter here is dark, wet, cold, miserable and generally all round bloody depressing. Anything that sheds a bit of light (literal and metaphorical) into the gloom has to be a good thing. As someone wiser, funnier, and almost certainly better looking than me said at least once. "Christmas is great, but why do they try and bring religion into it all the time?"
Unknown said…
I'm tired of people calling it the "holidays." Being PC has gone overboard at this point - like my work that has a "Holiday Party" that is actually a very thinly veiled Christmas party, complete with the Christmas tree.
If people were really worried about offending others that would change more than just the name...
Anonymous said…
It's really hard finding all the balance when the world seems to have gone to the (holiday) dogs. I am pretty grinchy on the inside but I have to go smother the feeling just so I don't ruin "the holiday mood" for everyone else in the house. I think it's really a time that tends to be fraught with lots of extra emotional impact because of what we bring to it in terms of our own memories from childhood.
Liz Dwyer said…
Kari, yep, isn't Olinga turning into a little gentleman? You should hear him talk nowadays. He's just whip smart. I'll bet you have some fantastic memories of those dinners...and can avoid all the grief of having to pay off massive credit card bills all spring long. Lower-key works for me.
Liz Dwyer said…
Clearly what I need to do then is find my father's ancestral home in Ireland and move there so I can experience the whole dark midwinter thing (not much of that here in L.A. Then I'd probably be begging someone, anyone to sing another Christmas carol.
Liz Dwyer said…
Ironically, at my job I'm the one that's spearheading the "holiday" party because it was making me a little sad that every other place of business I went into had wreaths and lights up...and we had nothing! I'm all for any excuse to have a party...funny that you all have a Christmas tree (or are those Holiday trees now?)
Liz Dwyer said…
Oh yes, those childhood memories! We either set our expectations way too high for how awesome everything is going to be...or we have memories of drunk people locking themselves in bathrooms and screaming that they hate the rest of the family. And that was after ice cubes were thrown at people. Well, one more week and then it's here!
It's really hard to be different when you're a child. There is so much propaganda telling Olinga that goodness is rewarded at Christmas with lots of loot. Instilling the idea that one has nothing to do with the other, that one should be good because it's right and not for graft, is tricky when all around them, other kids are getting rich on Dec. 25th.

Being loved and cherished is really the greatest gift we can give our kids anyway.

Olinga looks adorable in his red nose and antlers!
Liz Dwyer said…
HISF, Thank you SO much for saying that. That really resonates with how I'm feeling about all this.
Great post too (and thanks for the comment). It's so true--how can you compete when it's EVERYWHERE. My kids are finally getting sick of it. I think they're burned out on sparkle lights and they're pretty freaked out by Santa. At least until next year...

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