This is a hard post to write, because it is me looking hard at myself, seeing where I have fallen short and owning up to it. It is about religion -- what I believe about it -- so if you are not a fan, feel free to skip this post.
Yesterday the kids were looking at a photo of themselves from last year. Michelle had it taken while we were at work, as a surprise gift to us. It's of them with Santa Claus, looking miserable as can be (but still cute). They didn't get the whole Santa thing at 1-and-a -half, and they only sorta get it now.
So, sitting in front of our Christmas tree, I decided to explain.
I showed them YouTube videos of Santa in his sleigh, dropping brightly-wrapped gifts off for good little boys and girls. I taught them the "Santa Claus is coming to town" song. I laughed when Dean told a whining, crying Cary: "Stop it that noise, Cary! Santa Claus won't bring you any presents!"
I thought it was all so cute, I told that story to Lester after the kids went to bed.
And my wise husband said, "Hmmm. I wonder if we should have talked to them about the real meaning of Christmas first before introducing the Santa/presents concept." He said it in a very non-judgmental way, like he was really just thinking of it for the first time.
I stopped in my tracks, realizing that he was right. I -- we -- screwed up big time. He thought of it for the first time last night, but *I* hadn't thought of it at all. Ugh. Ugh. And oy!
I know that we can still go back and talk to them about Jesus, and help them understand on a 2-year-old's level how the two things (sorta) go together. So it's not like all is lost. I know that.
But I'm disappointed in myself.
As long as Lester and I have been dating seriously, we've consistently said that we wanted to make sure our kids had a good sense of God in our lives and theirs. But ever since Lester and I stopped going to our old church, we have been woefully delinquent in that department. We haven't taught the boys about praying (except for at night and sporadically before meals); we haven't read the Bible (save a few kids' Bible stories). We haven't talked to them about God in any clear and consistent way. Worse, we haven't shown them by example that we intend to live our lives with God at the center.
And now that Christmas is here -- a perfect time to talk about religious traditions and what they mean and why -- I went straight for the secular.
I'm not even one who thinks that you *have* to go to church to be a person who has a heart for God.
But for us, it seems that without the accountability of a church home and family, we slowly have let our faith lapse. That worries me on so many levels.
Without going into private details, I'll just say that coming from a family where I think Mom and Dad did so many things right, except that, I have a heightened sense of anxiety about what can happen to a family where there's no sense that you have a purpose on this Earth other than to serve yourself.
So I have to do better. We have to do better. Whether we find a church home or not, there's no reason not to at least talk to our kids seriously about what we say we believe and value.
This is incredibly important to our family. And we just can't make any more excuses.