A Little Bit Christian for Easter


I was wondering when Katie would begin ask.  About twice a year, specifically right before Christmas and right before Easter, she starts dropping hints that she should honor her birth religion.  Yes, we are Jewish, and Katie’s birth mother is Christian.
For those of you who are new readers to Portrait of an Adoption, here is a reprint of one of my all-time favorite discussions with Katie that took place last year.  I may have to run it every Easter:

Katie declared, “I am a little bit Christian and a lot bit Jewish, right?”

“Tell me what you are thinking about,” I responded.

“Well, my birth mother was Christian.”

“She still is,” I replied.

“Right,” Katie continued.  “So a little part of me is Christian, too.”

“Not really,” I explained, “because we converted you to Judaism when you were a year old.”

“But I was born Christian,” she persisted.  “So I should get credit.”

Credit?  Now I was truly confused.  Credit with whom?  With God?  Was she trying to cover her bases and make sure she was going to heaven?  I wasn’t sure where this was going.

“Credit for what, Katie?”  I asked.
She looked at me in exasperation.  “Credit for being born a Christian.  I should get an Easter basket.”

Aahh, now it all made sense.  She wanted some chocolate eggs and new toys.  Religion in the eyes of a six-year-old.
“Katie, it is true that your birth mom is a Christian.  I think she is a born-again Christian, but I am not entirely sure of her exact beliefs.  But you are absolutely Jewish.  We celebrate Shabbat every week; you attend Sunday school every Sunday, and we are raising you to be Jewish.”
She looked at me with interest, and I continued explaining.

“When we adopted you, we held a Jewish naming ceremony, which is customary for baby girls.  You were five months old, and we gave you the Hebrew name Chaya Liron which means “life” and “joy.”

But according to Jewish law, you were still Christian because your biological mother was Christian.  So a year later, we had a special ceremony to legally convert you.  We took you into the mikvah, and Rabbi Brant said prayers while Daddy dunked you under the water, and when it was all done, you were Jewish in the eyes of God and the Jewish people.”

“So am I a born-again Jew?” she asked.

With that conversation as background, let me reassure you that Katie did indeed play the religion card yesterday as we passed a particularly sumptuous looking Easter cake at Sam’s Club.  The frosting was pastel buttercream, with little bunny decorations, and Katie felt a sudden need to celebrate Easter with a cake.

Fortunately, we were on an errand to pick up a birthday cake for a friend’s 65th birthday party this evening, and I managed to convince Katie that it would taste just as good.  She readily agreed, and then we made our way to the checkout.  

But we got waylaid by massive Easter baskets on display, attractively stuffed with candy and toy animals, and once again Katie looked at me with excited eyes.  “Why don’t you get me an Easter basket and I can ring someone’s doorbell and leave it for them as a surprise?” she asked.

Ringing a doorbell and leaving treats for a friend is known as “ghosting” in Evanston, and it usually takes place around Halloween.  It was a sweet idea, but I don’t think people ghost on Easter.

We compromised by deciding that this morning we would go out for pancakes to celebrate Easter.

As I mull it over, I realize that Katie basically thinks Easter is a time when Christian children get a lot of candy and presents, and she has no idea about the religious significance of the occasion.  I think today we will explain to her the real reason why Christians celebrate Easter.  

I imagine it is hard even for Christian children to keep focused on the meaning of their holiday amidst all the marketing of candy and toys and bunnies and eggs.  It’s not a problem Jewish people really encounter with our holidays because there is so much less marketing of Jewish holidays by the mainstream culture.  

That made it hard, for example, to find fun kid-oriented Passover items for our recent seder, but it was actually nice because our table was adorned with home-made decorations and treats that Katie made at Sunday school, and it was easy to stay focused on the reasons for the holiday.

Anyway, Happy Easter to those of you who celebrate it!


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  • I'm not Christian anymore, and I'm glad I'm not. Easter is a particularly difficult holiday to explain to a child. All that death and dismemberment! The bunnies & eggs are actually pagan in origin and the candy is, I'm pretty sure, Hershey's in origin. On the other hand, Creationism sure is a lot easier to explain than evolution!

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