A trite truism we are often subjected to states that Christmas is really for the kids. As I suggested earlier in this blog, adults also see the benefits in a holiday break, and many adults experience Christmas like kids. But how do children experience the holidays, really?
Two unrelated news stories this week demonstrate the breadth of childhood holiday experience. Last week an 8-year old boy in Massachusetts was sent home from school for a drawing. The teacher asked the students to make a Christmas drawing (a bit of December dilemma there!), and this boy drew Jesus on the cross. Well, that could be a simple holiday mix-up, an Easter Bunny in Santa’s sleigh. The problem arose when the boy said it was himself on the cross, with x’s for eyes. The boy’s father reported that they had recently visited a Catholic shrine with obvious crucifixes, and the boy seems to have thought Christmas was somehow associated with death.
A second story comes from Tennessee where a 4-year old boy was picked up outside, drinking beer and wearing a stolen dress from under a neighbor’s Christmas tree. After being treated for his condition, the boy was released to his mother who said that he was trying to get arrested to be with his father in jail. Christmas is family time, after all.
Perhaps the warm and cozy stories of animals placidly staring into a mysteriously glowing feed trough are the stuff of adult fancy. Maybe these children see the holidays in their unmasked guise — wish fulfillment in a world that is just not what it should be.