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“Like a Giant? or a Robot?”

by Danny Thomas December 20, 2011

By: Danny Thomas

last Christmas I blogged about believing in Santa.
I still do.
St. Nicolas is the embodiment of faith, magic and giving…
Christmas is so much more than Santa tho, strange, I know…

I have such weird conflicting mixed feelings about Christmas
and the whole dogma, being a critically thinking, agnostic, capitalism/consumption-questioning, sustainabilitynik, buying in to Christmas can be hard…

having kids makes it easier…

being a magic-believing, faithist, helps too…

the other day the girls and I went for a walk
we passed a nativity set up in a neighbor’s yard…
luckily it was one that I could stand to look at.
clearly hand made, of wood and nails, hand painted, labored over in a garage.
Born of faith, devotion, exuberance, and probably ecstatic craftsmanship.

not one of these “Power Plastic Nativity” jobbees – I kid you not, I saw a nativity last Saturday that included Mr. and Mrs. Claus and Rudolph, now I don’t call myself a Christian and am in no position to be righteous, but I really hope those people were being ironic…

anyway, as we looked at the folks gathered around the swaddling in the manger, another one of those inevitable questions came up…

“who are they?”

I answered as plainly and honestly as I could, I find these kinds of religious questions tricky, I try to be objective… I also, oddly enough, happen to love the nativity story, it is another contradiction and strange aspect to my personality that I myself don’t understand…


“Mary and Joseph are in the middle there, and in between them is baby Jesus.
The men on the left are The Magi, and the lady up on the roof, well what do you think she is? “

“an angel?”


I then proceeded to tell my agnostic interpretation of the nativity story to the girls… writing that, I don’t know how it’s even possible… really, but that’s what I did.

I just told them, in plain speech, about Mary and Joseph making the journey to Bethlehem, Lil’ Chaos asked why they went to Bethlehem, and I couldn’t remember, she speculated on a good doctor being there, I have since done my research and learned about Augustus Caesar’s decree about the tax and all that… not a detail that I think Lil’ Chaos is interested in at this point.

We talked about the angel and the star and the Magi (an aspect of the story that I think is extraordinarily fascinating… and woefully under-examined) Zilla asked if the wisemen brought the animals, which segued nicely to talking about the manger, and how Joseph and Mary should have called ahead to make a reservation…

at that point I was feeling pretty good about the conversation, but the hardest question was yet to pop out…

“Is he still alive?”



looooong pause….

“Well kiddo, that is a really hard question to answer… nope his body is not still alive, but he has become more than… bigger than a person….”

Lil’ Chaos: “Like a giant?”

“Zilla: “Or a robot?”

“Nope… like an idea… that is why the angel showed the Magi where to go, they knew that Jesus being born was a big deal…”

And that was that, as far as the conversation went… we strolled on chasing squirrels and shadowdancing as we went.

but I sure kept thinking about it for a while…

And here is another great thing about Christmas…

because of that conversation, I feel closer to my kids, and closer to Jesus…
Still not calling myself a Christian… but that’s a blog for another time…

Just loving the numinous nature of Christmas time, the Christmas spirit and the magic of family…

The post “Like a Giant? or a Robot?” appeared first on The Next Family.

Danny Thomas
Danny Thomas


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