Merry Happy Whatever: S1E5 Twas the Night Before the 4th Night of Hanukkah
A Note to Parents: Merry Happy Whatever is designed to be a family show, yet things have changed since The Brady Bunch was popular. This show features a teenager deciding he’s an atheist, a young woman embracing her homosexuality, and the implications of unmarried couples sleeping together. We at The Source For Parents never want to introduce something to kids that you wouldn’t want them to watch, so we develop discussions that parents can use if they feel the show is appropriate for their child. This show avoids the language and violence we often see today, but each parent will need to decide on their own if it’s appropriate for their family.
Season 1, Episode 5: Twas the Night Before the 4th Night of Hanukkah
The Quinn family is getting ready to head to midnight mass on Christmas Eve, and of course Don is micromanaging the family to make sure they are dressed to his standards. He’s rushing everyone because he’s eager to get to church to get a good seat.
Don: We don’t want to be late because all the good seats will be taken by the…
Entire Family: Easter and Christmas Catholics.
Don: Go to church twice a year, think they get all the God!
In the previous episode, Todd and Patsy learned they were having a baby, and they are eager to share this news with the family. They walk in and Pasty blurts out that that she is pregnant and is immediately celebrated by the family. Todd is relishing in the attention and affirmation he is receiving from Don, which is a rarity in their relationship.
As they get closer to their departure time, Don mentions his intention to talk to the priest about the baby’s baptism since they will see him at church. This starts a sequence of dialogue that is worth looking into.
Todd: Actually, uh, we haven’t talked about the baptism, so maybe let’s hold off on that.
Don: This is us talking about it, Todd. You see how our mouths are moving up and down?
Todd: Of course. It’s just religious traditions are important, and I don’t wanna you know, rush into anything. Like, I was thinking maybe I’d want to include some Jewish traditions in the baby’s life.
Don is less than thrilled by this revelation as he believes his religious faith is the priority and has no desire to accommodate Todd’s Judaism. The discussion continues with Todd proposing a compromise instead of choosing to raise the child with only one option for faith.
Todd: I was actually thinking that we could raise our child with both traditions. And then, when he or she is mature enough, we can let him or her decide.
Don: Let the child decide what to think? That’s the dumbest thing you ever said.
As the family watches this conversation unfold, Don’s teenage grandson chooses to stand up and share his thoughts on the idea of religion.
Sean Jr.: See? This is the problem with religion.
Everyone: Oh, no.
Todd: Oh, thank God.
Sean Jr.: Wars have been fought just because one group’s beliefs are a little different from another’s. You guys are arguing about things that there’s no real answers for. And that’s why I’m an atheist.
Things have spiraled out of control at this point, and there is no hope of a productive conversation happening. Sean Jr. has chosen to believe in the absence of God, Don is demanding that his newest grandchild be raised to be a Catholic, and Todd would like for the child to be raised with Jewish and Catholic traditions.
So who is right in this discussion? How should they raise their child where it comes to faith?
This situation highlights the importance of determining the direction of your personal faith prior to tying yourself to another person. The lack of spiritual unity that is being shown in the Quinn family, particularly between Todd and Patsy, is not something that can be easily overcome. The key to handling these situations is to solidify your faith before you enter into a lifelong relationship.
In the New Testament book of 2 Corinthians, the Bible shares thoughts about relationships between people going in different directions.
2 Corinthians 6:14-16
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?
Being yoked means being tied together, like two animals pulling a cart. The Old Testament book of Amos echoes this idea of two people needing to go in the same direction before being joined together.
Do two walk together unless they have agreed to do so?
Before we start our discussion, let’s look at one more verse. The Old Testament book of Deuteronomy reveals God’s heart about parents passing on their faith to their children.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Parents are called to raise their children to know the One True God and to understand the things He has said. This is how they love their children, by sharing the truth with them.
Let’s take some time and talk about the things raised in this episode and in these verses, and see what God might be teaching us during our time together.
Discussion Questions (for parents and their children to engage in together)
- Why do you think so many people go to church on Christmas Eve even though they might not go any other time during the year (except maybe Easter)?
- Do you think you would share big news like Patsy did, where she just went for it and shared, or do you think you’d go about it another way?
- Why do you think the conflict between Todd’s Judaism and Patsy’s Catholicism has never really been an issue before in their marriage?
- What do you think of the idea of raising a child with multiple traditions and letting them choose when they get older? What are the possible positives/negatives of this approach?
- What do you think of Don’s comment about letting a child think, being “dumb?”
- How do you think Don’s comment factored into Sean Jr. speaking up?
- Why do you think Sean Jr. chose this moment to share about his atheism?
- Looking at 2 Corinthians 6:14-16 and Amos 3:3, how would you summarize the message in those verses? Why do you think God included that in the Bible?
- What do you think are the “big things” that two people should agree on and go in the same direction before they enter into a relationship? (politics, faith, tacos, etc.)
- Why do you think God commands parents to pass on the things they know about Him? In what way would you say it’s loving for parents to do this?
- Based on this discussion, what would you tell someone about God’s design for dating relationships and marriage relationships?
Rob Chagdes is one of the pastors at Prairie Lakes Church in northern Iowa. In the years since he met Jesus as a sixteen year old, Rob has spent his life working to raise up the next generation to love God and invite others into His unending story. He spends most of his free time with his wife Leslie, their three amazing daughters, and their energetic dog Jedi. You can reach Rob at firstname.lastname@example.org