What a party, what a night!!! Last night we celebrated Purim (one day late). My kids loved dressing up (except the Dad’s and older ones were a bit reluctant but they still participated). It was my sister and best friends birthday to boot so I went all out.
I had invited a family from church over for Family Home Evening, and their eyes were a little big when they saw the 25 people milling around my house looking like elephants, pioneers, princess’s, and who knows what else. They gamely went through my containers of costumes and joined the festivities.
First we told everyone the purpose behind purim and the different aspects of it. I explained about yelling whenever anyone says “Haman”. My kids love this part of the evening way too much so I adapted it and asked them to please just ‘stamp their feet’. I can completely understand why some Rabbi’s find this part of the day a bit distracting 🙂 After teaching everyone the ‘Why’ behind Purim, we all loaded up on homemade doughnuts, Hamantashens, and other yummy food while we watched our favorite “Jewish” Youtube clips.
And one a favorite clip about dads for fun (you should see my 4 year old do this rap)
We ended up the evening with a good ‘ol fashion’ family dance complete with a disco ball!! All-in-all it was a blast and I am grateful for the Jewish faith for creating this amazing way to remind everyone that God’s decrees can not be frustrated, but each of us needs to do our part in this plan because “who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”
I only know a little bit about Jewish traditions and cultures, but what I know seem to indicate that not only do they tend to be very religious, they also seem to know how to celebrate! I love the fact that so many (actually all that I know of) of their celebrations seem to center on religious activities or stories. I think that is such a healthy faith promoting way of doing things. I do realize that there is a potential for people to go to the events for ‘social’ reasons, and totally miss the religious significance of the event. I see this happening in our church all the time with kids who were ‘born into’ the church. Often, we forget to teach out kids the why behind the ordinances we practice ourselves. Sometimes we think that if we know ‘why’ we do things, that our kids will know why just because they are our kids, or the church organization will make sure they know it.
Henry B Eyring addressed this concern:
They [the youth] hold the future in their hands. The Church has always been one generation away from extinction. If a whole generation were lost, which will not happen, we would lose the Church. But even a single individual lost to the gospel of Jesus Christ closes doors for generations of descendants, unless the Lord reaches out to bring some of them back.
I am grateful that my dad, a convert, understood this principle and always encouraged his children to ask why, to seek truth and always to be thinking deeper on religious matters. As a child I did lots of ‘rote’ learning (at 14 I had the Book Of Mormon memorized to the point that if you read any where in the Book Of Mormon, I could, within a few verses tell you what book and chapter that passage was found), but I did WAY more ‘thinking’ learning. My Dad was constantly challenging us to come up with our own conclusions, testimonies and insights to scriptures and gospel doctrine. It was hard work for my Dad, I know, but I am ever so grateful for his work because I realize that anything worth having takes work. I work hard to do the same with my kids. I love how Neal A. Maxwell explains how to help keep our kids strong in their faith. He states
If parents will not commit fully, they cannot transmit fully; then the rising generation, all too soon, in the intriguing words of Nephi, becomes “for themselves” (3 Nephi 1:29). Usually, therefore, spiritual impressions are most deeply made when the “tablets of memory are soft” … especially in a hardening, secular age such as this.
The transmitting is best done by a triad consisting of righteous parents, the Holy Ghost, and the holy scriptures. The scriptures constitute our collective memory without which so many have “suffered in ignorance” (Mosiah 1:3). Used effectively, the scriptures, as was done anciently, can actually enlarge “the memory of this people,” emancipating them, in a sense, from the limitations of their own time (see Alma 37:8). The enlargement includes conveying the experiences of others which the current generation has not had, and in such a way as to permit its members to conceptualize, appreciate, and learn from these experiences….
The key to raising children up unto the Lord is for parents to teach them the “What, How and Why” of the gospel. Occasionally, parents can neglect this responsibility and others, seeing the need can step in to help a struggling child. This method is not nearly as effective as the mothers and fathers “doing their duty” and teaching their children themselves. While I will love my children no matter what they do just because they are mine, I would be so sad if this vibrant, secure, happy, colorful world of the gospel that I live in, was something that they did not enjoy because I neglected my duty to help my kids ‘know the Lord’.