Bi Christmas – with children
‘Mommy! Dad said Jesus is dead but it’s not true! He is being silly, isn’t he mommy?’
Ah, the joy of Christmas has just increased tenfold now that Z has started school, albeit in their nursery class! So here I am, dear readers, trying to deal with yet another taboo and showstopper of most British conversations: religion. Up to last year I could happily celebrate the Winter Solstice and Z could just enjoy the tree, the lights and the presents whilst I monopolised her view of religion. However, this year, Jesus is most definitely in the picture as her school is putting on the obligatory Christmas play, which is indeed entitled ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’. Z is an overexcited party goer and has been practising her songs with the religious zeal that four year-old children seem to demonstrate for anything that captivates their imagination, whether it is Jesus or Dora the Explorer. I am not sure which of those two Z is most devoted to but I would say that the bringing of presents is putting Jesus in the lead right now.
Whereas X is more radical in his approach to religion as an agnostic and tried to ‘kill’ Jesus, or give Z the historical facts, as he would see it, as a Pagan mom I am not opposed to Z having religious beliefs. She goes to Catholic Mass with my mother sometimes and I believe that Judeo-Christian stories are part of her heritage, so I would like her to be familiar with the Bible, as well as other religious texts. Despite all this, I realised there is something perturbing in seeing Z singing about Jesus. This has given me the opportunity to look a little closer at my own views of Christianity again, as well as to reflect on what messages I do want to pass on to my daughter about religion, as she grows up and explores her own beliefs.
I must admit that although I stopped being a practising Catholic years ago, mainly due to the Church’s views on human sexuality in general and queer sexuality in particular, I am also grateful to many aspects of my religion of origin. I feel that it has offered me a way to make sense of the Divine and of myself in a way that secular society and knowledge could not entirely satisfy for me. Even as a practising witch, I have kept a rapport with Mary as one of the facets of the Goddess and, to some degree, with Jesus. He is a tad more problematic though. As a queer woman, I have been spat on, in his name. I have also lost friends and have a more complicated relationship with my mother because of what the Church believes, in his name. I am also only too aware how many atrocities have been, and continue to be committed, in his name, against a vast array of people, including queer people, all over the world.
Yet I cannot bring myself to condemn religion as a concept just because people who are full of fear use his name, or indeed any name, to justify their actions. If I did, I would feel just like another fundamentalist who believes that some ideas or movements need to be eradicated or invalidated for the world to be a better place. After all what would indeed happen if Z chose to be a Christian when she is older? Would I really reject her or make her feel foolish for her beliefs? Would I want her to experience the marginalisation and the feeling of being ‘wrong’ because of who she is and the choices she has made? It might be just another idealistic view of mine but I like to think that Z can grow up to be whomever she wants to be and to believe whatever makes sense to her at any time, knowing that she is always loved and completely accepted, not just tolerated, by her family.
So in the spirit of the season of goodwill, this year the nativity set I got from Poundland is on display, the tree is up and has a rainbow star at the top, I am organising the Yule ritual and Z keeps singing tenderly to baby Jesus. We will have pancakes at dawn on the Solstice, to celebrate the return of the Sun after the longest night and then go to Midnight Mass a few days later, as well as walks in the frosty woods. X and I, with the support of our other partners, family and friends, keep facing the task of making our minds more open so the world can be a wider place for Z to experience, a place large enough to hold Jesus and his story too.
Nevertheless, I still glow when I recall one of the conversations I have had with Z this week. When I asked her who Jesus was, she replied: ‘Jesus is Mary and Josie’s baby. They are the mommies and Gabriel is the daddy.’ When I asked about who God was then, she rolled her eyes in that beloved, contemptuous way of hers and replied: ‘Of course God is the other daddy!’ Although I tried to explain that it is Joseph and not Josie, Z is unshakeable in her faith to her own version and, after all, isn’t religion just another way to make sense of our worlds? After all, Mary, Josie, Gabriel, God and Jesus make a lot more sense to her as a model queer, poly family unity. So, happy birthday Jesus!
It would be great to hear from other parents out there. Are there particular issues that you would like to talk or read about? Email – [email protected]