Monday, November 26, 2007

Bah, Hum--no, wait--no, well, maybe Bah Humbug after all.

So, it's about time for my annual "Bah, Humbug" series, wherein I kvetch about the omnipresence of Christmas in general and its force-fed nature at my kid's school in specific.

The thing is, though, I'm not feeling particularly Humbug-ish this time around. Even though, with no late-November Thanksgiving to mark off the start of Christmas season, people up here seem to start with the trees and the decorations and the carols in stores just a few days after Halloween. Even though the Mermaid Girl has been prancing around the house practicing "Reindeer Rock," the song-and-dance routine her class is working up for the Christmas (not holiday, but Christmas) concert, and my workplace doesn't even make any gesture toward calling the shindig they're throwing next weekend a "holiday party" rather than a "Christmas party." Even though when I picked her up from school today I saw that her whole class had done Remembrance Day paintings featuring a hill, a field of poppies, and a BIG CROSS marking a grave (apparently, that's the standard iconic imagery for Remembrance Day: poppies, field, cross. It was kind of startling, though.)

It just hasn't been bugging me that much. Go figure.

I did check in with the principal way back in September about December holiday celebrations, and she told me with some pride that there are kids of many different religions at MG's new Cool Artsy School (and I believe it--even though we're out in the burbs, it's way way more ethnically diverse than the population at her old school in Seattle), and they do a play every year, and last year the play was about all the *different* holidays people celebrate at this time of year. "Too bad you weren't here then," she concluded; "this year the play is going to be about Santa."

Yah, whatever.

And I volunteered again to do a Chanukah Presentation for MG's class. "I don't think she'll want you to," my girl said, and I wasn't so certain either; this teacher seems to dismiss some pretty innocuous suggestions with a "that's just not the way we usually do it." (NB: neither the Renaissance Woman nor I are crazy about this teacher overall as a person, but as MG seems to be learning just fine from her, and has volunteered multiple times how much she likes her, we haven't made a point of it.)

But I talked with the teacher after school today and she's just fine with it, and even volunteered the use of a basket of dreidels someone gave her a while ago, that she wasn't sure how to use.

I think I actually like how, even though Canada has an official, government-sponsored policy supporting and celebrating multiculturalism, it doesn't--

Wait, stop the presses! I was going to go on to say that Canada doesn't make any pretense of separating church and state as the U.S. ostensibly does, since as part of the Commonwealth it has an official state religion (Church of England, baby!) but when I went to look it up I found that apparently such is not the case (well, at least not according to that great arbiter of all knowledge, Wikipedia).

Now what am I going to do? I was just fine with being a stranger in a strange land, but it looks like it's the same old, same old, here. Just with even less window dressing--well, more literal window dressing at this time of year, but fewer figurative token nods towards the concept that some people might, you know, not celebrate Christmas.

Sheesh. Now I'm confused.

Even so, somehow it's hard for me to get worked up about it this year.

Okay; as you were.


Anonymous ppb said...

I bet the chanukah celebration will be uber-cool. Especially if it involves not doing math for the moment.(and especially if it's done by you!)

7:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But on the bright side, Vaisakhi is also a big deal -- just wait until April.

9:47 PM  
Blogger elswhere said...

Oh, that sounds most excellent! I just looked it up. We might have to get out to Surrey for that.

ppb-- aw, thanks! though I might slip some math into the dreidel lesson; we'll see.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Pamelamama said...

give yourself a little more time to get settled in, then you'll be back to your old fight-the-power self. :)

11:04 PM  
Anonymous rachel said...

I think these things feel different in Canada. There's less elbowing and jockeying for position, less us vs. them. It feels more like I think multiculturalism should feel: here are these folks celebrating over here, and these other folks celebrating something else right down the block. If one group is louder than the other, it's because there's more of them, not because they're trying to drown anyone else out. And I can go to either party, or both or neither, if I want to.

I can celebrate Diwali, Buddha's birthday, Chinese New Year, and on and on. And everywhere I go, I feel welcomed by people who really want me to understand what they're doing and why.

1:47 PM  
Blogger Kate R said...

I had no idea I lived in such a bastion of religious tolerance. Every Winter Concert has at least one attempt at klezmer music, a choir version of Dreidel dreidel driedel (I made it out of clay) a song about the days of kwaanza and something about the sun coming back (a nod to pagans?)

And here I thought it was standard for all public schools everywhere. I guess I'll stop kvetching about our locals.

7:36 PM  
Blogger Kate R said...

PS You might offer to cook latkes served with applesauce. Teachers around here are always desperate to find celebratory healthy snacks now that TPTB are down on cupcakes and candy.

7:37 PM  

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