I love being the parent of a 3 3/4 year old.
Edie is interesting, funny, inquisitive, sensitive, and timid. One of the things that I love most are the questions that she has about the universe, life, and a plethora of other topics.
A few of the questions of late:
Why is the skin on the inside of my hand lighter than the outer side?
Where was I before I was born?
Why doesn’t Rufus have thumbs?
There have also been a lot of questions about Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and Santa Claus due to the season, of course. We were reading something about Saint Nick, who she assumed was in fact Santa Claus until she noticed his Bishops mitre. She wanted to know why the different hat. We tried to explain that he was a Bishop and that he and Santa were very similar, etc. She was very concerned with what hat he might wear to her house when he delivers her presents in a few days.
What hat will Santa wear?
This question had my head spinning a bit too as the different layers were pealed back: layers of history, religion, conquering, commercialism, and capitalism that are all mixed together along with individual family traditions to create this experience that we call Christmas. I am the kind of parent that wants to be able to help my child grapple with important questions and also provide some guidance. Having a child often makes us question practices and beliefs or to at least tighten them up a bit so our values are clear and represented.
What hat will Santa wear?
What is the essential message of Christmas? What do I want to get from it (or give to it)? What do I want Edie to get out of it (or give to it?)
I’ve always loved Christmas: the tree, the gifts, the smells, the coziness, the family, the candlelight church services. Many years on Christmas evening I’d end up worked into a panic attack because I was so overstimulated, overwhelmed, and depressed that it was over.
As I’ve aged, I still love Christmas. I love the lights, the gifts, the smells, the coziness, the family, and the church services. Even this year, with my father nearing his death, though it’s been hard, Christmas has helped to soften the blow (and intensify it at the same time).
What is it at it’s essence that makes it so magical? What hat will Santa wear?
For me it’s all about Hope and Radical Love. That is what I want Edie to get and give at Christmas. There is so much to despair about. Even today, millions of dollars were raised by fellow citizens who want to build a wall at our border with Mexico. (Apparently they’ve never read any of the Gospels). Our environment and planet are in major trouble and Edie will be around to bear the brunt of that future. My dog is getting old. My dad is so sick. One of my best friend’s mom’s cancer is back. There is so much to feel upset, angry, and disgusted about. And some days the hope is illusive. That’s why we need Christmas. We need Christmas to remind us that though it’s so dark, we can hang up lights and burn candles. We can reach out to our neighbors and refugees and love them. It’s simple and sappy but exactly what I need. It’s what we need. It’s what Edie needs.
What hat will Santa wear? I suppose the bishop’s ” hat” would be the most historically accurate. We are Episcopalians after all, and we will read the Christmas story from one the Gospels. When it comes down to it though, this man (historical or not) Jesus, that we celebrate and remember came to the world to stir some shit up: to hang out with outcasts, to despise wealth and excess, to forgive and reconcile, to love and empower. He taught us in spite of it all to have Hope.
What choice do we have? We can choose misery I suppose. That would be easy enough and probably the most logical. However, neither St. Nick or Santa Claus seem to be overly concerned with logic and ease. Giving away wealth and other gifts to children and those in need as Saint Nicholas or flying around the world in a night gifting toys to children everywhere as Santa Claus both require a bit of Hope and Love.
What hat will Santa wear? I suppose it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we have hope, love without fear, challenge institutions and injustices, and keep the light burning in the darkness. It’s what I want Edie to get out of Christmas. It’s what I hope she can give to the world.