Sophie's education can be seen as extremely religious - she learns about ALL of them. My friend Sohni says that if you can't see God in all, you can't see God at all. Thus, Sophie is equally comfortable with talking fish being a form of Shiva who destroyed the world with a great flood as she is with the more usual stories from the Judeo-Christian tradition. The idea is that she will have plenty of opportunity to discover divine mystery all by herself, but at least she is exposed to plenty of choices. She might end up being a schizophrenic. Or an atheist.
My own thinking on this is that humans have an inherent spirituality, and we can equally worship by studying quantum physics or prostrating towards Mecca. I think everyone has their own paradigm of what is sacred and profane, and a walk with God is a deeply personal matter. I don't want Sophie to have that air religious superiority which I find quite irritating. By the way, I've observed that some atheists are equally guilty of that same superiority complex about the correctness of their beliefs, so it seems there is no theistic monopoly on arrogance. You believe what you need to, and accept that so does everyone else - that's the point of tolerance right?
Anyway, in our family, we celebrate Chinese New Year as well as Christmas. This Christmas Both Alex and Sophie received wonderful presents in the form of donations made in their name to various charities such as kiva.org (micro-finance loans - please check them out if you don't already know them) and Half the Sky foundation.
Thank you to all our generous friends who have sent these presents!
I am glad you sent these instead of toys because Sophie is actually non-commercial in the extreme. Most of her toys are things she has devised by herself could be played with. Such as a collection of pebbles and some fallen leaves, tree branches, discarded toilet roll paper and boxes. I take it as evidence of a healthy imagination. On the other hand, we would like her to enjoy some of our own childhood delights, like Star Wars, Tin Tin, smurfs and Asterix.
In Lijiang this Christmas we gave her a smurf/schtrumpf. That's right - ONE toy, and it's a tiny rubber figurine that fits in her pocket. We also gave her the Veggie Tales books from my Singapore friends (Thank you Elaine and Kat) and the books from her Papy and Mamy and Aunt Celine. We also let her open the wooden percussion instrument from Peru from her Godmother Joan. So in total she got 2 toys and 6 books and you know what? She was completely delighted with them all.
We must be the only "mean" parents who do this to our kid. But I think there is plenty of time for her to later (when she has learned to write !) to do her long lists to Santa but for the moment she can say "This Christmas I changed someone's life".