Tuesday, December 4, 2007


Written by JJ contributor Ilnans

Since it's been snowing a lot in Chicago, I've been thinking a lot about Christmas which is funny because a), it's not quite Christmas yet and b) I never really have thought too much about the holiday in the past 24 years. OK, well the thing is that Christmas means absolutely nothing to me. Ever since I was born I've known Santa was a crock. I personally think the pairing of green and red is quite ugly, and hearing that gosh darn Christmas music everywhere I turn leaves me with a bit of anxiety in place of that warm cuddly feeling I think most people hold so dear.

Well, I'm sitting in my closet-of-an-office right now post-conversation with one of the teachers I work with at this Headstart/church preschool and I can't seem to shake the conversation I just had with her because she really and truly and with her whole being didn't understand why I said something at today's meeting about whether everyone in both classes celebrates Christmas (referring to the activities that were being planned for the next two weeks). "Christmas is so nieece though! The songs, they are so nieece! We can make little ornaments!"

When I first heard the organization I work for has a new policy to stop doing holidays in school, I was kind of annoyed thinking to myself that some arse probably complained because his poor kid came home singing about a reindeer with a blinking nose and at the time the issue seemed rather dumb and pointless; if the class is made up of mostly Christmas celebrators than it should be OK and understandable for one child to have to grin and bear it for her entire existence. I mean it's not like anything is going to change in the future around any of this holiday stuff, why should my employer pretend it's going to do anything?

As I have sat through meetings this year leading up to the holiday season, I've started to realize that the teachers have no intention of forgoing a Christmas tree for any other symbol of winter or the holiday season. They have no plans of getting rid of their Christmas music, in fact it's what they now play during all the transitions during the day and all throughout the children's two hour nap.

Now to the point. Well the point is that with or without policy change, the problem with Christmas being all over the place is that it allows people to be ignorant once again. It allows people to shut out difference and turn a shoulder on inclusion. It is a small example of what is wrong with humans of all races and origins. The teacher who I talked to is from Mexico. She and many of the other teachers are often complaining to me about how the other teachers in the classroom do not respect their culture and they will speak in Spanish to one another to strengthen their connectedness which then angers the other teachers because they feel left out and then they complain to me as well. The funny thing is that none of them think twice about the fact that I'm Jewish and for whatever other implication that may have about me, the one thing that I can fully accept and support as a Jew is the fact that Christmas means absolutely nothing to me. They don't think twice about that. Sure, I've gained a few memories around the holiday season to remember and I might use Christmas as a reference for these events but that is about the extent of it and these women don't understand why I'd say something to try and recognize the children in the room that might not celebrate the holiday.

It doesn't anger me, but it makes me speechless because it is such a deep and ingrained ignorance based on generations upon generations of ignorance and it's not like it's causing me any real pain or harm or anything but it does make me involuntarily resentful which then makes me angry for letting it get to me and so it goes (can I get an AMEN!). I usually think of myself as being a decent communicator. One who can talk to people so that they truly understand and with this I am speechless. Really.