Driving Miss Dee home from Brownie’s this evening, she cheerily brought me up to speed on the “culture” badge they’d earned via the meeting’s activities.
“We made an egg holder shaped like a bunny and Browny Owl had some culture bread, which we ate while she talked to us about culture and then we wrote about our own culture in our books, which we got to make up.”
“You ate culture?”
“It was good too,” she chirped.
“Was this about Easter?” I asked, needing to nail down the cultural aspect of the evening.
“Yep,” she replied.
“Well, Mick and her old friend/new boyfriend are coming this Saturday for Easter,” I told her, having only just found out during a conversation I had with Rob before picking her up. She’d called to update him on her new job, confirm for dinner and remind him that Dare is deathly allergic to nuts. He’d recently had an incident at the restaurant where the older girls work because he was too polite to mention it to Mick’s co-workers.
“Easter is Saturday?” she asked.
“No,” I said, “it’s Sunday. Remember? You wanted to call it Easter Eve instead of Holy Saturday.”
“But I thought it was Friday,” she said.
“Friday is Good Friday.”
“According to the Catholics,” she said, using a tone that sounded a lot like her dad’s when he talks about organized religion. A cross between “how quaintly foolish and we must put this evil down – hand me the hammer and sharpen the stakes”.
At this very moment, we drove by the Separate school in Ardrossan. Separate schools are Catholic but operate under the banner of the public school system and are funded by the province.
“Look, Mom,” she waves her finger at the building. “There it is! What is it?”
We’ve had this conversation and it’s never ended satisfactorily. There is something on the building that catches her eye every time and she describes it in such vague terms that I have never been able to tell her what it was.
But this time, I think I know what it is.
“The cross?” I ask.
“Yes! What does it mean?”
Oh, how to explain this unique symbol of death. Eureka, I decide to use Easter.
“Well, you know Easter? And Jesus?”
Affirmative to both.
“Jesus was nailed to the cross on Good Friday. Died. And then on Easter, he was brought back to life,” no sugar-coating is the best way to split this knot.
And I hear the chirping of crickets from the back seat as Dee tries to make sense of this news.
How to relate it?
“You remember Osirus?” I ask.
Of course she does. She’s an excellent pagan.
“Remember how he was chopped up and Isis pieced him back together? He came back to life as the Lord of the Dead?”
“That’s like Jesus,” I am feeling confident about having related a story I can’t even remember being told, that’s how etched it is in my psyche, to my daughter who knows next to nothing about anything that isn’t polytheistic in nature.
“Except, for the chopped up part,” she points out.
“Right, there’s that difference.”
“And Jesus is not the God of the Underworld. He is in heaven.”
Give me points for her knowing his geographical location at least.
“Yes, God raised him up to heaven,” I agreed.
“What’s God’s name?”
I flip quickly back and forth between Yahweh and Jehovah in my mind before offering them both.
“Why is he called that?” her tone clearly indicates that she is not impressed with his moniker.
“He called himself that.”
“And is he the god of?”
“Hmm, well, he’s just God.”
“And what did he do?”
Because Gods “do” things and have “jobs”.
“He created the world, they say, and humans.”
“But Zeus did that,” she said.
“Well, that’s what Catholics believe about him,” I said.
“Catholics,” she said, in that tone. “I’m baptized like a Catholic, right? So I am Catholic.”
Knowing, as I do, that it’s not really that simple – though many of my fellow cradlers aren’t that well-versed – I try to explain the “choice” thing.
“It’s not like being half-German or Irish, sweets,” I tell her. “Being Catholic is a choice.”
“Is Brookie a Catholic?”
Brookie is the neighbor girl who goes to the Christian school in town. I sigh inwardly. I really don’t want to branch off into the schism and confuse her with the splinter groups.
“She’s a Christian, which has many groups and Catholics are one of those groups.”
I can hear her eyes glazing over before she mercifully takes the conversation along another track.
“N2 was baptized like me. Is he a Catholic?”
“Yes, but he and DNOS and Uncle don’t practice it much anymore.”
“Because they are too busy with hockey?” she asks.
“Yes, hockey is time-consuming.”
“Like being Catholic?”
I am not sure that counts as a light-bulb moment, but I take it and steer the conversation away from religion, and it occurs to me that I bit off far more than I realized when I decided to teach her about religion rather than simply handing off to the church via Catholic school and catechism as my parents did.