Right after Christmas, J asked, “Mama, can we celebrate Hanukah next year?”
And having never met a religion I didn’t like, I said, “Sure, that’ll be fun.” But now I’m second-guessing my answer. Can a superstitious heathen celebrate Hanukah with her uncircumcised Catholic son? It seems kind of presumptuous.
On second thought, since there’s no Jewish hell, I think I’ll just risk it. I’m totally onto J though – I know he’s just after the chocolate coins. But that’s okay, because I’m mostly in it for the latkes. Unless, of course, Harry Goldenblatt finally shows up to sweep me off my feet – I’d totally give up Christ for Harry. Seriously though, I thought, isn’t that nice, wanting to celebrate Hanukah? I faded into he-is-his-mother’s-son-after-all bliss.
And then he ruined it.
We were reading one of his Magic Tree House books that he loves. (For those not in the know yet, these two kids find a tree house in the woods that only they can see. It’s filled with books and when they start reading about a time and place the tree house magically takes them there.) I said to J, “How cool is that – do you believe in magic?”
He rolled his eyes at me and said, “N! O!”
“Why?” I asked, as alarmed as I might be if I’d found out he’s a heroin addict.
And he huffed all teenager-like, “I don’t believe anyone can pull a rabbit out of a hat, I don’t believe in card tricks, I don’t believe dinosaurs can come back to life…”
I wanted to scream, you’re SIX, for Gods sake, how did you get to be so jaded?
But then I realized I might know why. “Have you been telling J not to believe in magic?” I accused my husband.
“No,” he insisted, “Why?”
So I told him the story. “Yes!” he roared, “That’s my man!”
“You know, he’s only six, why do you have to make him be all crotchety and negative like you already?”
“I didn’t say anything to him about it! But anyway, good for him, knowing you don’t get anything in life magically," he scoffed. "You get good things by working hard, staying the course… wah wah wah wah.”
“No, you don’t,” I said, “You get good things from wishful thinking - being positive – and having faith in the abundance of the universe...”
I know, you’re thinking, oh my God, he must think you’re hilarious!
But somehow he doesn’t.
I asked my atheist sister-in-law why she thinks even in all of J’s crabbiness, he eats the whole Santa bit right up. And she said, “Well – it’s worked out well for him in the past, no?”
Indeed it has. I’m going to see if I can put that nugget of wisdom to work in my favor – I’m hoping I have a good minute or two left before he’ll be smarter than I am. If not, I suppose if I fail to raise a good Catholic (or a crazy gullible heathen), maybe I’ll inadvertently raise a righteous Jew – belief in magic not required.