On Magic and Mysteries

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week's topic is Anything Previously Written. And there's still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin!

I first published this piece eight years ago!

So if it seems dated or not like the ME you know now, that’s why. That said, I’m not really changing anything about it, except for formatting, because I apparently didn’t know how to do that when I started my blog! This post was written when Scarlet was just a baby, and Des wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye! Or a “ghost baby” as he morbidly calls life before birth. And that’s somewhat relevant to this post. I shall stop rambling and let this post do the speaking now. It’s a good one.


Our pediatrician’s office has two waiting rooms – a well patient area and a sick patient area. Recently I had the misfortune to be quarantined in the sick patient area with Scarlet since a nasty virus lingered longer than we were comfortable with. Two adorable blonde sisters waited with us, using the time to question me (and Scarlet) about Santa Claus and whether or not I’d ever seen or heard him and whether or not Scarlet has ever seen or heard him. (She hasn’t) As I played along and tried to answer as best as I could, I noticed that their mother was smiling along and not shooting me warning or apologetic glances. She probably knew I wouldn’t spoil her daughters’ belief in Santa Claus, however, it got me thinking how easy it would be for someone to snatch away years of a family’s beliefs and stories in an instant. How strong are the foundations of the stories we tell our children about magic and religion? Are our own beliefs clear enough to pass down to our children?

I found out the truth about Santa Claus, funnily enough, in the Hebrew school parking lot where we used to have to wait in a traffic jam until all of the kids were safely out of school and in cars. My mom and I had some time to kill and somehow that subject came up. I must have been doubting my beliefs during that time, and I know my older brother and sister had found out before me and had kept the stories alive for me and our younger two siblings. I think my mom explained it well then.

“It’s not that I’m going to tell you that Santa is not real. I believe there really was a good man who brought gifts and whose legend and spirit live on. I believe very much in the spirit of Christmas. And, I also believe in Santa Claus…but …Dad and I fill your stockings.” That actually made perfect sense to me and did not break my heart. It seemed to fit right in with my family’s scattered but present beliefs.

I was raised primarily Jewish but with a tinge of earth-based spirituality – Wiccan/Pagan, etc. We also celebrated Christian holidays but more for the spirit of giving and the fun of Christmas stockings and Easter egg hunts, and not at all for the religious meaning. I went through Hebrew school, a Bat Mitzvah and even a Torah Confirmation at 15. After that, my family dropped out of the temple. It was expensive and we questioned organized religion to begin with. And then we scattered into our own families, ready to start our own traditions or keep the old ones going. What we had then worked for us but it won’t work exactly like it did for my family now. Scarlet is 3/4 Jewish and 1/4 Christian by birth only. Will we be able to find our own solutions/explanations to the questions she will one day ask us about religion and spirituality?

It’s a delicate subject in my house, and in many households, but my husband thinks I’m an atheist and I don’t think I am. I guess that means I’m right. I think I both thoughtfully and thoughtlessly question the barrage of information and stories that sound conveniently like fairy tales (or horror stories) to me. I’m undecided. I can’t tell Scarlet that Santa Claus is fake but that everything she learns in temple or church is real. Many parents can but I don’t necessarily feel right about it.

What can I tell her? How can I pass on my murky and confused background? How can I give her something solid when I don’t have any of the answers? What I do know is the powerful chill I have felt hearing a congregation sing. The joy of singing Hebrew to 200+ whose faces are lit with filtered sunlight through a stained glass window. What I know is that we’ll make our own rock n’ roll Passover Seders and eat apples and honey with her on Rosh Hashanah. I know I have prayed before and that my prayers were answered. Maybe someone was listening. I know that I’ve had a lifetime of truly spiritual and magical moments, each one imploring me to believe, even when I think I can’t anymore. And it happens so often that a little voice inside me says each time, “What about now? You’re crazy not to believe after all of this.” Temple. Church. Somewhere else.

It all means something to nearly everyone and everything to someone.

What I want to tell her is that there is a magic and light in all of us and it propels us to do great things. Whether the source of that magic and light is religious, earth-based spiritual, or even self-caused doesn’t necessarily matter. What matters is that it’s there and it’s powerful and many of us have seen and felt it. And many of us have and will go on to do great things.

I still believe…in something. Is that specific enough to tell her? Are my beliefs enough?

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is Anything Previously Written. And there’s still time to write yours. Come link up with your spin: HERE. What’s your past post?

What would you say?