This past Friday we celebrated our first Shabbat as a family. We bought some challah, lit a candle, said the blessing, and talked about what we are grateful for. Jude and Ellie were clearly grateful for the bread. I was happy that Vivi's earache and upset stomach from earlier in the day had subsided, and my husband was happy that we were all together. Vivi just wanted to play with the matches. Nonetheless, it went off without a hitch and we had a really nice dinner together.
Don't let this evening fool you. We are not religious people. My husband went to Hebrew school but doesn't consider himself Jewish. (In fact, he has many negative associations with the religion.) I was raised in a household that had no religion but I suppose that a week of free vacation bible school when I was nine would qualify me to be vaguely Christian. It is fair to say that while we aren't exactly atheists today, we're probably pretty close.
This old time religion thing has brought up more questions than answers for us now that we have three children. We feel religious education is important but we also want our girls to figure out what they believe on their own. We struggle with how to celebrate the wonderful cultural rituals that my husband and I enjoy without invoking God. Is that even possible?
We're not sure but we're trying our best. Friday nights are a chance for us to slow down and remind ourselves of all that we have. Christmas is a time to think about others and to learn how to give as well as receive. Hanukkah is celebrating light in the darkness. The traditions and rituals that we set in our family connect us to all of our relatives who came before us. Maybe those people believed in God. Maybe they didn't but we are pretty sure that no matter what we do, we can't go wrong with modeling gratitude for our children.