On the way to school one morning, a couple of days before Winter Break, Heidi and I are listening to the All Christmas Music, All The Time! Radio station when the song “What child Is This” is played. Here is how our following conversation goes:
Heidi: This is NOT a Christmas song.
Me: Um… Yes it is. This is a real Christmas song about the baby Jesus.
Heidi: No. It is not.
Me: Heidi, true Christmas songs are about baby Jesus and Peace on Earth, not about snow and reindeer.
Heidi: Well, if Willy were here, he would not think this is a Christmas song. And if Emily were here, she would not think this is a Christmas song. Kids do not want to hear this kind of Christmas music.
Me: Songs about snowmen and reindeer and walking in the snow are winter songs or songs about Santa. You know that Christmas is not about Santa, right? It’s the celebration of the birth of baby Jesus, in the East?
Heidi: Which way is the east?
Me: It’s behind us but that’s not what I meant. Baby Jesus was born in the Middle East, like where Uncle Ryan was when he was in the Army.
Heidi: Did Uncle Ryan get to meet baby Jesus?
Me: No. Jesus was born 2011 years ago. Ryan was there just a couple of years ago.
Heidi: Why the heck was he born so long ago?
Me: Because he was. (Nice answer!)
Heidi: Who put people on the earth anyway?
Me: God did. The story goes, God made the heaven and the earth, the land and the water, he put all of the animals on the land and then he made a man named Adam. It took six days so on the seventh day, he rested. The seventh day is Sunday so that’s the day you go to church and thank God for making the earth and people. After Adam named all of the animals he was lonely so he asked God to make him a person to live with. So, God took Adam’s Rib and made a woman named Eve.
Heidi: Oh, I read that book before!
Me: Yeah, so then Adam and Eve get to live in this beautiful land with no bad weather, all the animals, and all the food they want. But they can only live there if they don’t eat any apples off the tree. But they do so God tells them they have to leave. They go live outside of this beautiful place, called Eden, where they have to deal with weather and finding their own food. Then they have kids, and their kids have kids, and their kids have kids. But Adam and Eve are not Jesus’ parents.
Heidi: Oh, I know that. God is Jesus’ dad.
Me: Pretty much. His parents who raised him are called Mary and Joseph.
Heidi: I know Joseph but I don’t know Mary.
Me: (I wondered who she thought Joseph was if she knew Joseph but not Mary. Probably the Technicolor Dream Coat guy. I saw that musical when Donny Osmond was Joseph. That thought made me chuckle a bit). Mary was Jesus’ mom. God put Jesus’ in Mary’s tummy where he grew into a baby and then was born in a barn. People came and gave him gifts because he was the Son of God. This is what that song was about.
People who are Jewish, who celebrate Hanukah instead of Christmas believe everything I told you, except they don’t believe that Jesus was the Son of God, just that he was a man who lived 2000 years ago and did good things for people. (I was not going to get into much more than that, she is only 5!)
Heidi: Well, they are wrong!
Me: No, they are not. People can believe what they want to believe without being wrong. That’s what religion is about. Religious people all believe there is a God – some of them call it Allah, some call it God, or many, many other names. And they believe that when you die, you are judged by God who decides if you get to go to Heaven, which is Eden, or Hell, which is really bad.
Heidi: What is Hell.
Me: if Eden or Heaven is a place where the is no bad weather, all the food you want to eat, all kinds of animals and people all living together and getting along, then Hell is the opposite.
Did you know that some people believe that God is really a bunch of aliens who created the Earth and put us here to save us from their dying planet? And one day, they will come back for all of the good people and leave the bad people here?
Heidi: That would be AWESOME! We would get to go with the good people and we would never have to lock our car doors or worry about someone stealing our cats!!
Me: Well, that’s true but that’s not what I believe. (I am stifling a laugh)
(it’s quiet in the car for about 2 minutes)
Heidi: That’s just silly!
Me: What is silly?
Heidi: We have not discovered Aliens yet so I don’t think they put us here or we would have found them when we went to outer space. I don’t know anyone who would believe that.
Me: Well, again, everyone is welcome to believe what they want to. I don’t know any one we believes that either. It’s called Scientology. But there are a lot of famous people who really do believe that.
Heidi: I am really upset.
Heidi: I can’t find my Frosty The Snowman Book! I think we gave it away!!
(I realize Frost the Snowman is playing on the radio now. I sigh, turn up the radio, and we both sing along to the rest of the song. Leave it to a 5- year-old to be able to jump from a deep, theological conversation, to despair over a lost Frosty the Snowman board book.)
(Please do not correct my version of how the earth was made and the birth of Jesus. Try explaining all of this to a child in the matter of 10 minutes in a way she will understand and you will probably get a similar version! This post was meant to be funny, not a religious lesson).