Monday, December 21, 2015

unholy night

The holiday season is (blessedly) almost over. We nearly made it to the end without having to endure more Christmas music than the normal amount (i.e. what has already been playing non-stop in stores since September). We were at a friend's house for cookie decorating this morning, and on the way home the children insisted that we just *had* to listen to Christmas music, or else they would be scarred for life. I turned on what I had at hand, and Ali, with her insane penchant for memorizing lyrics, started yelling that we had to turn off the music after two songs. She was very concerned that songs had words like jesus, christ, god, heaven, etc. and since we are atheists who don't believe in those things, the music was not okay. She had a tough time reconciling that people can enjoy religious music without believing in it, admire an old church's architecture, or appreciate the good that some religious institutions do in our world.

At nearly seven-and-a-half Ali is getting closer to the age where reason can be applied, but she's not completely there yet. It is still a black-and-white world for her, and either you buy into religion and all of it's trappings or you don't.  This, of course, spiraled into a conversation about how different people react to religion in their environments, what kind of things are acceptable, and tolerance for differing points of view. She asked about what different people in our family believe, which inevitably lead to her asking about my in-laws and their beliefs. She knows that they are religious, but hasn't quite grasped that they stopped speaking to us over 18 months ago, largely for religious reasons (or so we think). She is starting to understand that their belief in god is what keeps them from having a relationship with us, which usually leads to tears.

So, within the span of twenty  minutes this morning we went from being happy and hyped up on sprinkles & icing, listening to Idina Menzel singing Silent Night, to having two young children in tears because their grandparents have ostensibly chosen religion over them. Good times.