If I had to describe my religious status I guess I'd say I was 'lapsed', 'non-practising', 'liberal' or maybe if pushed 'agnostic'. In any case it's complicated. I grew up in a very religious family and going to church and observing religious customs are a big part of my childhood memories and cultural identity. I've really wrestled with what I want to teach my kids when it comes to religion. In the end I became frozen in indecision and did nothing.
But lately I've come to the conclusion that basically I'm over thinking it. It's not like the kids have an existential crisis every time we read 'Madeline' or 'There's a Hippopotamus on Our Roof Eating Cake', during which they grill me about whether the characters are 'real' and what deeper message they should be taking away. At this point they live in a world where the boundaries between real and imaginary are completely fluid and if I don't make an issue of it neither will they. There is plenty of time in the coming years for us all to grapple with our faith or lack there of. For now we can just enjoy the story of Jesus' birth without attaching any of the baggage.
So this year as part of our advent calendar I've bought the kids a little Nativity scene. Every few days I'll pop one of the pieces into the calendar until eventually they have the whole set. I did consider buying an attractive 'grown up' set but quickly realised that it would be one more thing I had to constantly supervise and stop people poking with their grabbing fingers. So instead I bought the playmobil set, so people can grab to their hearts content.
Today they got the stable and one little lamb. After a lot of pretend baaing and making the lamb run around the stable they got bored and added some of their Thomas trains to the mix. After all who's to say baby Jesus would have enjoyed a visit from a train?
In other news, the kids have hand foot and mouth, which is why they both look a little sad in these pictures. We have our own little leper colony going on here.