Thursday, April 01, 2010

What does Easter mean in an atheist household?

What does Easter mean in a house with atheists?

I am raising an amazing 10-year-old son. But I have this feeling like part of the "basic education" that I've been providing throughout his life has been conspicuously lacking in one major area.

I've taught him (and continue to try and teach him):
  • how to treat others
  • that learning is not just a pain in the butt for school, but rather an opportunity to explore the amazing world around us and that you can learn your whole life
  • that friends can't be replaced, we need them and it pays to be a good friend
  • that family is different than friends, and there's no replacement for family either (not even friends)
  • that food is one of the simple pleasures in life and can bring joy
  • that girls like boys and vice versa...and that it's a good thing
  • that I don't want to look back at the end of my life and regret things that I didn't do because I was afraid
  • that you have to see the original classic movies (even if they weren't amazing by today's standards) before you see the new remake...because I think it's right to give the old movies their due and the new versions often times are crappier (and, yes, he thinks the original trilogy was so much better than the prequels - which I wouldn't let him watch first)
So, I've covered a lot of bases, but one major area that we were educated in that he is completely lacking in is religion. I was raised in a Baptist Christian household. We went to church every Sunday. We prayed before we ate and before we went to bed. But really, inside, I was a young atheist. A doubter that felt like a liar when she prayed and wished that she didn't have so much cognitive dissonance when it came to her thoughts on God.

I came to terms with my feelings and am in a happy place now. But I've realized in the last few years that my son doesn't know the simple stuff - you know, Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, etc., and I'm doing him a disservice by not giving him some information about religion. At least for future Jeopardy questions, but mainly for the larger picture. Most people do believe in some variation of Christianity. And my son is completely out of touch with that world.

Perhaps I'll buy the book on Amazon on world religions and see how much it covers. Maybe I'll ask him if he remembers from last Easter what I explained about the holiday (and how it has nothing to do with chocolate, boiled eggs and rabbits). It would be a lot easier if we ate chocolate crosses and the risen messiah was the mascot instead of the "Easter Bunny."

For now, I'm going to try and come up with a new Easter tradition for us to enjoy. He's too old for the egg hunt and too young to appreciate a ham dinner with deviled eggs. His idea was to have it be a "code day" where we make new codes up. Maybe he's not so far off from what Easter is for many of us...a day with hidden meanings that are very separate from the original idea.