(Randomly, in line for drive up pharmacy)
5 yo: Mom, when will Jesus come back down to earth?
Me: Well, that is a good question. The Bible says that we won't know. What do you think?
5 yo: I think it will be a thousand years or two thousand.
Me: It might be.
5 yo: Wait, when was the last time Jesus was on planet earth?
Me: About two thousand years ago.
5 yo: Did Jesus come on a holiday?
Me: Well, it wasn't a holiday then! We've made it into one now, though. Approximately.
5 yo: I think he's coming back on a holiday next time.
Easter wasn't even over and my kids were already asking me what holiday was next on the calendar. I was tempted to give them a lecture that Easter is not just one day but a 50-day season in the church calendar that ends with Pentecost, the birth of the church. But I refrained (this time). Pastor kid problems.
My kids like holidays. Who doesn't? My 8-year-old noted that Earth Day was the next holiday and asked what we were doing for it. I said we don't really have a family tradition for Earth Day or any plans. Really? he said. We have a lot of family traditions for holidays. Apparently I must like holidays, too.
I do like holidays, especially those that follow the liturgical calendar. Who used to throw an annual Pentecost party with red clothes and red food? This girl. I'm not much for big parties these days (thanks COVID) but I love noting holidays (holy days) and thinking how to make them relevant for children.
I tried something new -- maybe to become tradition -- for Easter Vigil this year: we had a fire pit in our yard and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows over the embers. I told the kids that on Easter Vigil, early Christians gathered around a fire, told stories about how God saved God's people over the years, and waited up all night for the dawn to celebrate the resurrection. (Our fire pit only lasted 'til 7 PM but they got the gist). Maybe next year we'll play Old Testament charades.
Last week when we read the Bible story about the Last Supper (on Maundy Thursday), my kids seemed especially interested in the fact that Jesus was celebrating the Passover with His disciples. Jesus likes holidays, too! Or at least as a Jewish man he observed them as was customary. I like that my children have awareness of other religious holidays, too. I hope they'll come to respect the meaning that those holidays have for others, even as they see the value of their own traditions.
Holidays give us opportunity to practice rituals, be they sacred or secular. I've seen as many tears from folks watching the flag pass at the Fourth of July parade and as from those holding a candle on Christmas Eve while singing "Silent Night." Holidays become holy when they give us spaces and symbols to transcend ourselves and connect with the beyond, the holy, the something more. This is a gift to give children-- to do tangible things that point to something bigger. We get to watch our kids hone their ability for awe, and for wonder. And rituals give comfort, a sense of predictability in a world that can feel chaotic.
I don't know if Jesus is coming back on a holiday (you can take that up with my kid if you have an opinion), but I know Jesus is to be found in the holidays we have. Jesus isn't in the decorations, or the expectations we place on ourselves for holidays. He's not in the food (okay he might be possibly in the food). Jesus is found in the way that we gather together to acknowledge the mysteries that are beyond us. Holiday! Celebrate!
Happy Easter season.