All the Big Questions at Once

Tonight was my turn to get Lily to sleep. As always, we read a few books — my favorites, the Frog and Toad stories — and then we turned off the light. We usually talk for a little while, as I slowly encourage Lily to quiet both her body and her mind — the former twitches while the latter races. Christmas is a week away, and the graduating students in her school are putting on a Christmas pageant for the younger kids. My understanding is that most of the action is narrated by her teacher, but even without speaking lines, she seems to be taking a great deal of the action in. (She is, in her own words, the “indoor keeper,” which she likes because her robe has pink in it.)

So there have been some discussions about Jesus and the fam.

Tonight, as we lay in bed, her small voice reached out to me and asked, “Daddy, is Jesus alive?”

How to answer such a question? I tried to be honest. Jesus is alive in us, I told her. Some people think he lives on in Heaven with God, but the most important thing is that he lives in our hearts. I asked her if Nai-Nai was with us. No, she said. But we can feel her with us when we think about her, yes? Yes. Is Mommy here in the room with us? (Yung was in the kitchen and we could hear her washing dishes.) No. But she is our minds when we think about her? Yes. And when we think about her we feel good don’t we? Yes.

“Daddy?”

“Yes, Lily.”

“Is Mary alive?”

And then she asked about Joseph. I gave similar answers for both of them, but her next question was really the hardest:

“Daddy, is Santa Claus alive?”