Sam Wilson

Putting the X into Xmas

2005-12-15 10:18

"Why don't we ever talk about baby Jesus?" my six-year-old, Josef, asked me earlier this week.

A tricky moment, I can tell you. Let me set the scene.

I am not Christian, although I come from a Christian upbringing. Neither is my partner, although his parents are devout Christians, who are somewhat dismayed by our unwillingness to instil even the rudiments of the faith into our children's upbringing.

So why do I still celebrate Christmas?

It's simple, really. I love many bits of Christmas. I love the coming together of family and the exchange of gifts. I love that there's a public holiday devoted to spiritual introspection and celebrating the good parts of humanity. At least, that's how I choose to see Christmas, and I believe those are things we should all, regardless of faith, have access to.

And if the engine of global consumerism can hijack Christmas for financial gain, I really don't think a pair of agnostics, hijacking it for love and family feeling can really be that bad.

So I put up a tree every year, bedecked in tinsel and popcorn with a lop-sided fairy. I wrap things in red shiny paper. I have a giant family lunch. I even play Christmas carols (although my partner believes that's going a bit far) and while I don't do Midnight Mass or actively invite discussion on the nativity, I do try to talk to my children about tolerance, about privilege and about giving to those less fortunate than ourselves.

So how did I answer my son?

I rooted out a storybook on the birth of Jesus, and we read it together. We discussed how Jesus believed in love and tolerance and trying to see the good in everyone, even people who are not like you. We discussed how some people think Jesus is the son of God, while others believe he is a prophet.

Joey digested all this and looked at me with that clean, clear look of a small child about to flummox an adult.

"Mom, I believe that Jesus is God's son," said Joey. "Do you mind?"


"Not at all, honey," I replied. "In fact, I fully support it, if that's what you believe."

We blinked happily at each other for a bit. Then I asked a tricky question of my own.

"Do you mind that Mommy isn't sure about God?" I asked. "Because it is not that I don't believe in God, just that I'm not sure."

Joey thought about this.

"I think that's okay," he replied. "But... when do you think you'll decide?"

Got to love little people.

  • Sam Wilson is the editor in chief of women24. She's pretty sure she's happy about that.

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