I guess I was generalizing from my own elementary-school experience, which took place in a New Jersey suburb I loathed at the time but think fondly of now as "Central Park West with lawns, " a town where probably the plurality of the white kids were Jewish. We didn't have school on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, everyone made the Bar/Bat Mitzvah Circuit during 8th grade, and the December holidays were kept strictly out of the curriculum.
Technically, I guess they kept things pretty nonsectarian at MG's school. Renaissance Woman justly pointed out that it could have been much, much worse. Still, I was kind of taken aback when I rifled through all the papers stuffed in the backpack and found a big, red-and-green handprint-painted wreath, complete with ribbon, with a winsome picture of MG in the middle. I mean, awwww, cute, but...sort of Christmassy, maybe, a little?
And then there were the counting worksheets festooned with reindeer and Santa hats and candy canes. And the reindeer handprint-cutout thingy. I didn't mind the gingerbread-house project, because, hey, basically when you get down to it, it's just candy. But the cumulative effect of it all gave me pause. Yeah, we're an interfaith family, and MG does in fact celebrate Jul. But that's our business, and it's at home. She also celebrates Chanukah and identifies as Jewish, and I bridle at her having even more Christmas pushed down her throat at school.
I asked if they talked about Chanukah at all at school, and MG responded with an emphatic N-O. The teacher did ask her to bring in her homemade menorah and talk about it, but that was it. To be fair, MG also reported N-O explicit discussion of (or songs of) Christmas, except that it and Chanukah are occasions for people to give presents. So maybe I'm being oversensitive about the whole thing. But it left me feeling weird.
I'm not sure if it's just this teacher (whom I think I've mentioned we all love, and who I really don't want to give a hard time), or the school as a whole, or what. And in any case it's OVER now, and will be ancient history when school starts up in January. I'm not sure what I could do about it--write a letter to the prinicpal? Or an email to the teacher? And if I do, what should those emails say? "Snowmen are okay, but ixnay on the Santa imagery"? "White and sparkley projects are fine, but please refrain from combining the colors red and green in school during the month of December"? Or should I wait till next November, and write a proactive email of some kind to her 1st grade teacher, throwing in an offer to come do a presentation about Chanukah?
I already feel like something of a troublemaker for having written a(n extremely polite and diplomatic) letter to the principal and PTA complaining that the Fall Festival was held during Yom Kippur. They were very apologetic and nice about it, but maybe one complaint a year is enough?
Those of you with kids in public school (whether or not you and/or you kids are Jewish): what December-holiday-related stuff do your kids do in school? And if you do follow a minority religious tradition, what do you do about it? Do you go in and give a presentation? Do you protest? Do you just figure that you'll make up for it at home?
I'm honestly stumped.