December 3rd, 2007
I’ve been a little teed off at Punksin’s school since we got the December calendar.
Tomorrow, it says in bright letters, is the Chanukkah celebration.
Then in a couple of weeks they’ll be celebrating Kwanzaa.
The day after that, it notes, is when “Santa Visits“.
And that, folks, is it.
I am not a religious nut. I’m one of those people who prefers to think of myself as spiritual rather than religious. I don’t go to church often at all, but I don’t feel the overwhelming need to, because I think God lives in my house, in the world around me and in my heart. I think most religions have a lot more in common than all the fighting and dying around the world attests to, and I think almost all religions have something valid to teach and offer, once you get past the fundamentalist lunatics who think that their way is the only way, and pay attention to the respective doctrine and books of wisdom. I do get a certain calm feeling of upliftment when I do go to church, and there was a period several years back when my weekly attendance at church felt right for me. But I’ve chided my grandmother for her continued push for going to church, noting that Jesus didn’t go to church, and that there are lots of politicians and other disgusting people who go to church regularly and don’t seem to come out of it with any better sense of how to behave.
Having said all of that, though, I think we are living in a world that is too p.c. when it comes to religion. I look at my daughter’s calendar and I think, what the hell happened to Christmas?
I called the school about it this morning. I was trying to keep it light-hearted; I know they don’t celebrate or teach religion nor do I want them to, but has it gotten to a point where we can’t even say the word Christmas? They didn’t put “Dreidl Time” for Chanukkah. I didn’t see “Get Your Ujamaa On” for Kwanzaa. Why can’t we just say Christmas? As commercial as it’s gotten, I think it’s the least loaded word out there. I don’t think any kid is going to dissect the word, come up with Christ, and all of a sudden start asking uncomfortable questions.
The assistant director seemed to get rather hostile once she got wind of where I was going with my complaint. She pointed out the Santa thing and said “And isn’t that Christmas?” rather dryly.
Well, in a word, honey, no.
Santa has come to be a part of Christmas, and yes, for many many people he does epitomize what it’s all about. But he’s not. And while I understand that it’s my job to teach Punksin and Pudding what it’s really all about, it scares the bejesus out of me (no pun intended) when I see that she goes to a school that shies away from the word CHRISTMAS like it’s a fucking loaded gun. Santa is NOT fucking Christmas. (Excuse me, Lord.) He’s part of Christmas, and believe me he is all the rage in this house, but the same way they can put all those other holidays on the calendar they could have used the proper word: Christmas. Mention all the holidays, or don’t mention any. But don’t give anybody short shrift by substituting Christmas with some bullshit about Santa.
I left the conversation feeling uncomfortable, maybe even a little worse than I did before. The woman who owns the school is Jewish, as are many of the teachers. The woman I spoke to is not, and she celebrates Christmas but apparently from a very secular point of view. The thing is, so do we. Punksin is all psyched about Santa; we haven’t dropped the whole Jesus thing on her yet because, frankly, I don’t know how to explain the whole “he died for our sins” thing. So as far as she knows, yes, Christmas is when we get a tree and Santa comes, and Easter is bunny time. And I know it’s up to me to change that. It’s not that I want them to teach her about the real meaning of Christmas. It’s just that it saddens and scares me that they cannot even bring themselves to print the word, a single word, on a calendar. I think it’s sad, scary and downright disrespectful.
Over the years I’ve heard the call to put the Christ back in Christmas. We went from Christmas to Xmas to “Santa Visits!”
I’m beginning to understand exactly what they mean.