30 December 2008

Where are you, Christmas?

Ok, I'd like to address an issue that's really been bugging me.

As I mentioned early in the fall, we put our daughters in public school for the first time after homeschooling them from the get-go. We knew it would be a different world in a variety of ways... they'd have less freedom to come and go as they pleased, they would be subject to someone else's schedule, there would be no sleeping in, and the list goes on and on.

But the thing that really gets me (and still does) is the way public schools now handle Christmas. First, the teachers are not supposed to wish the students "Merry Christmas." Second, the school break that stretches from December 23 to January 5 is no longer called "Christmas Break," but rather, "Winter Break" or "Holiday Break" or some such thing. Third, my daughter is in the school choir and they had a special concert right before Christmas. Yet, it was called a "Winter Concert" and not one Christmas song was sung. At all. Of course, there were a HUGE number of people in the audience wearing red and green, and many even had on Christmas sweaters. I ask you, was THAT allowed? And how long will it be? How long until family members are told not to come to the winter concert wearing anything that will suggest Christmas?

Sound far-fetched? I'm not so sure.

Look, I'm all for being tolerant of other religions, other ethnic groups, other races, or what-have-you. In fact, I applaud it. Those are the things our country was founded on. But I don't imagine the Founding Fathers had in mind to squash out every mention of a religious holiday, just so a very few won't be offended.

And yes, at least here in Maine, it is a very few. Sure, we have Jewish families who celebrated Hanukkah, and I love that. In fact, why didn't the kids sing any songs at the Winter Concert that celebrated Hanukkah? Or Kwanzaa? Or whatever else anyone is celebrating at this time of the year? The thing is, MOST Americans still celebrate Christmas. Don't believe me? Turn on the radio in December. Look at any magazine, catalog or store decor. Can we really pretend it isn't there?

This is all because there are a select few who think that since they claim no religion, the rest of us should clam up, shut up, and let them enjoy their nothingness. Don't get me wrong, they have every right to their nothingness (for lack of a better term - I'm sure I'll offend someone - sorry in advance)... but now we are all being subject to it. Do you see what has happened? It isn't enough that they have their nothingness. Rather than majority rule, which is another thing this country was founded upon, a very vocal few are imposing their nothingness on the rest of us, and every song at that Winter Concert was one of THEIR songs.

How is that fair? How does that show tolerance and diversity?

Look, when I go somewhere and someone wishes me a Happy Holiday because they are not allowed to say Merry Christmas, I don't fault them or feel annoyed - I THANK them and wish them the same in return - with a smile. I happen to be a Christian who celebrates Christmas, but if someone wished me a Happy Hanukkah, I'd thank them and wish them the same in return - happily. Same goes for Kwanzaa. Even if someone wished me a Happy Winter, because they are anti-holiday in general, I'd thank them for that and wish them the same in return.

In fact, now that I think of it, living here in Maine with all our snow, we would do well to wish each other a Happy Winter... quite often.

Not that that was what I was getting at, but it seems like a good place to close.

Happy Winter, Friends.

Copyright © 2008 - Paulla Estes

9 comments:

Kathy said...

Amen.
I just don't get it either.
I am afraid that your anti-Christmas scenarios may not be so far-fetched. Let's hope that enough of us who care can make our voices heard before that can happen.

Do your kids get time off at Easter? I'm lucky enough to live in a small town where the school still lets out at Easter, even if they do have to "officially" call it spring break. I have friends that live in the city whose kids don't get any days off at Easter.

Merry (late) Christmas!
Could you send some of your snow my way?

Anonymous said...

I got so irritated about it that I made it a point to say Merry Christmas to just about everyone who came through my line at Shaw's Supermarket. I'm not going to give up my freedom to wish others well during the holidays just because some jack@## doesn't like it. I find that most of my customers actually like hearing people say it. What most of them don't want to hear is the dreaded "S" word! SNOW! LOL! Hope everyone's New Year is a great one!

Jeff said...

It's the tyranny of the minority. It's the pandering of those in power to those who seek control. The majority has allowed it to happen. More's the pity.

Paulla said...

Glad to hear I'm not alone in my concerns. And Kathy, I'll gladly send snow your way... not sure if it will work, though. :)

Jeff said...

Here is a quote from Samuel Adams... "It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."

No, you aren't alone.

Paulla said...

Good quote, Jeff - that's a keeper. And sad, but true.

Potterchik said...

Geez, who knew people would get so hostile over Christmas? If you keep Christmas in your home and with your loved ones, why do you need an institution like a school to keep it along with you?
Public institiutions should not be in the business of celebrating religious holidays. Nobody is stopping indidivduals form doing so -- in fact, those two tenets are represented in the same Amendment to the Constitution. Nobody was upset about this until a few silly TV and radio hosts decided to make an issue about nothing.
Happy Winter.

Paulla said...

Hmm. I'm not sure which TV or radio people you mean. All I know is that Christmas is more than a religious holiday. It is an American tradition. I know athiests who celebrate Christmas with a tree, gifts, and the like.

My point wasn't that we need to bring religious holidays into the schools, but rather, we need to not STOP acknowledging American traditions in the schools. It's so silly to have Christmas everywhere we look, but to tell our kids that when they go to school, the place where they are supposed to learn how to live in our society, they must pretend that Christmas doesn't exist.

It also makes me sad because I have such fond memories of celebrating some of the traditions of Christmas at school (public school) while I was growing up - such as gift exchanges, music, and decorations. I don't remember ever talking about the religious part of it, but I do remember when we started singing Hanukkah songs in the 4th grade after a Jewish family came to the school. Rather than squash out one tradition, we simply added more to it.

Thanks for your thoughts. Happy Winter to you, too! :)

jessica said...

Nice blog...
Thanks for sharing with us..

___________________
Jessica
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