Saturday, April 14, 2012

How do you make holidays mean anything to preschoolers?

As Passover ends tonight, I am of course spending some time in reflection. Growing up I lived in a family where religion was personally important to My Mom and very unimportant to My Dad. My Mom didn't attend church but did read us Bible stories, sent us to vacation Bible School and let us know why we celebrated Christmas and Easter. My Dad never once mentioned religion and I knew from a young age that my parent's disagreed on it.

If I am to be honest, I never knew that I had a religion growing up. Or, I never thought the stories My Mom read me were anything more than well, stories. I knew that if someone asked me what religion I was, I was to respond with the one with Jesus and I could retell the fish and bread story like anyone else, but I never gave it much thought. I knew My Mom believed deeply in the stories, I just simply didn't. It wasn't a lack of trying on her part it was just a lack of believing on mine. 

In middle school, I actually requested we start going to church because I felt I didn't know enough about this religion everyone assumed I was. My Mom happily agreed and we all began going. My parent's were divorcing by this time and My Mom felt bad, and still does, that she hadn't given my brother and I a "proper" upbringing with religion. I feel this is the point I should interject and say I actually think My Mom did a fantastic job, perhaps not in raising a Christian, but allowing me to have my own thoughts on religion. For that, she did a fantastic job.

Knowing however, how I was raised and knowing my less than stellar track record for going myself even now to Temple, when I chose this religion, I get concerned about A. I do feel Judasim is correct for me but I'm not one to go every week to Temple or to observe all rules and all holidays. I tend to think that once I find a mind frame that works I don't really feel the need to do be very organized about it. And while The Husband and I have agreed to raise A. Jewish, we also strongly feel that we want A. to make up his own mind about religion, we want him to ask questions and seek out answers.

I talk a lot on here about the foods and while culturally, there is a large emphasis on food and rituals, obviously I didn't decide to become Jewish because of the gefilte fish or the reciting of the Shema, thought it is beautiful and I sing it every night to A. at bedtime. No, the reason I chose, the reason every individual chooses a religion is because it means something to them. But how do you make religion mean something to children? To preschoolers? Can one?

The simple answer is, I guess, I have no idea which probably means I'm already doing it wrong. Instead I simply light candles, bring him to Temple on the more kid-friendly holidays, read A. stories and have him watch videos. My still all time favorite is The Rugrats Passover Special and A. loves it too. If you didn't watch this as a child, then you missed out.

So my question for the universe is, no matter what religion, how do you make it meaningful for children? Was this Passover meaningful to A.? I hope so.

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