My oldest niece cracks me up. First off, my sister and brother-in-law have decided to let my nieces grow up religion free and let them make their own decision later on in life but they still celebrate Christmas and Easter (minus the religious aspects) Because of this, my niece has done some interesting things while growing up. A couple stories to help you understand.
When in first grade and at recess apparently a group of kids (including my niece) were having a in depth discussion regarding God. The other kids were saying how God was all powerful and all knowing. My niece quickly jumped in with "No you guys, that's Santa!"
Another occasion my niece was attending a sleepover birthday party at her friend's house. My niece was around 7 at the time. The birthday girl decided to ask my niece if she believed in God. Being that God has never been an issue with my niece (along with other imaginary beings; boogiemen, werewolves,... etc.) she responded plainly, "No!" Her friend got so upset (crying and all) that my niece wasn't going to heaven with her. This, in my opinion, brings in the aspect of child abuse that Dawkins often discusses with regards to threatening children with hell.
Most recently (this last December; my niece is 8) my husband and I took my nieces and sister to my husband's work (he works at a children’s science museum) just before Christmas time. His work has a gingerbread contest every year and there were many gingerbread houses displayed within his work. We were taking time looking at the many different designs. We were looking at one table of gingerbread houses (my husband and sister were right there but talking to one another) when my niece asked "What's that have to do with Christmas?" as she pointed to a gingerbread church. I responded in kind, "Honey, that's a church" where she immediately replied with one of those "duh" tones voice, "Yeah, what's that have to do with Christmas?" I of course start jumping up and down, laughing so hard I could barely contain myself almost smacking my sister to see if she caught what was said. Once I made sure both my husband and sister took it in they both started laughing and my sister throws one arm up in the air saying, "Mother of the year!" I think my sister was slightly bothered that she hadn't explained the significance Christmas has to Christians to my niece but it was still a classic.
I myself don't know how or what I'm going to do once my husband and I decide to have kids. I honestly don't want to lie to my kids at all and that includes the Santa deal. I still want to celebrate the holidays because, in my opinion, Christmas (more so then Easter) is more of a cultural holiday anymore; it doesn't seem to have as strong of a Christian aspect as it might have years ago but that might have to do with the community more then anything. For my family, Christmas has been just a day we set aside to give gifts and spend time with one another; it’s never had a religious connection to us really. I’m scared when I have kids that I’ll do something wrong, say something wrong and scar them for life but I can honestly say that I won’t torment my kid with eternal hell and that already makes me feel like I’ll be a better mother then most have been.
Anyway, I just wanted to get those cute stories about my niece out. She’s awesome! Oddly enough my youngest niece hasn’t made any comments regarding God, religion or holidays like my oldest niece but then again she’s only 5 so there’s still plenty of time for that.
Got to love having small children in the family that aren’t yours but you love the same as if they were yours. Less responsibility with all the fun!!