Do you know how my kindergartener celebrated the holiday season and the start of the winter at school? By watching the movie “Rio.” This is a movie about a parrot who is smuggled by dealers into the US. If that doesn’t scream HAPPY HOLIDAYS, I don’t know what does. Good grief. What are we doing in the schools for young kids during the holiday season? I’ll tell you. We are completely skirting around holidays to avoid offending someone, and are instead losing out on some very teachable moments. What if we were to embrace and celebrate our cultural differences, instead of hide from them? What if we used the holiday season as a way to learn about a variety of histories and traditions?
We need to get away from this notion that being different from each other, and holding different views, is a negative thing. Social media algorithms perpetuate sameness and we are now in a world where debate quickly turns hostile and we would rather build a wall then dare to learn about another person. Just because Aunt Susie has IBS, doesn’t mean that we forever stop serving spicy queso dip at holiday gatherings. It also doesn’t mean we ONLY make spicy queso dip and ignore everyone else’s preferences. Furthermore, it doesn’t mean we completely stop making appetizers for any family gatherings. Does this sound ridiculous? I thought so. This is exactly how dramatic things are becoming in the schools. In this analogy, it might instead mean that we make a variety of foods and if someone does not like something, that’s ok! It’s an opportunity for them to bring foods they especially like, and share perhaps something new with everyone!
What if schools instead celebrated many holidays, traditions and seasons? There’s Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Diwali, Chinese New Year, Los Posadas… hell, the friggin’ SOLSTICE would be a start. What if the kids learned to make dreidels, handprint kinaras and also read “The Night Before Christmas?” Just because something is explored and brought to the table, doesn’t mean you have to practice or believe in it. If you make a Dreidel it doesn’t magically make you Jewish. Just because you eat a candy cane, doesn’t mean you believe in Jesus (WHY is this a thing!? … schools are banning candy canes because they are in the shape of a “J,” like Jesus? wtf?). Woah. Extreme crazy, amirite? Perhaps we would instead become a more informed and *gasp* less ignorant society.
Know better, do better. Know more, judge less. Judge less, love more.
Ignorance is Dangerous
The more we shy away from our differences, the more we walk on eggshells to avoid offending someone. Because if we don’t learn about each other, we don’t know what to say. We don’t know how to act, and in turn, we become more ignorant. To me, a lack of knowing or being informed leads to ignorance. Does anyone actually WANT to be ignorant? I would hope not. The more we celebrate our differences, the more confident we become in our interactions with people from various cultural backgrounds, and the more we appreciate the world around us. When our children learn about other cultures, the more they understand. The more they understand, the less they judge. The less they judge, the more confident they will become as adults with their own convictions by not feeling threatened or intimidated by things they don’t know. I don’t know about you, but I think this world needs a whole lot more love in it, a whole lot less judging, and more informed adults. Ignorance isn’t bliss. Ignorance is dangerous.
So next year, I hope my daughter at least gets to make a paper snowflake, instead of watching a random parrot being smuggled to Rio. After all, contrary to the political “snowflakes,” we don’t need a safe space from the harsh realities of the world. Diversity is a beautiful reality and should be celebrated.