Thursday, October 29, 2009

Tuesday, December 21, 2004
It all started because I let a kid come to my class while another class was showing a Christmas movie. I think I responded, when asked, "Sure. We aren’t doing anything Christmas-y. I don’t really celebrate Christmas.

Sometimes I forget where I live. This is a very religious community. They not only pray in school, they do all kinds of things that make me a bit uncomfortable. The other day, when I was complaining about a certain student, the teacher I was talking to shook her head calmly, smiled, and whispered, "Just picture the cross behind them. Like Jesus Christ. You can't be mad at a child who hangs on the cross with Jesus!" Disquieting image, if you ask me.

When I said that I didn’t celebrate Christmas, I didn’t mean it in a non-Christian/ Jewish/ Jehovah’s Witness kind of way. I just meant that I don’t really get into the season much, don’t have kids coloring reindeer or writing poems about snow. It wasn’t a big deal in my family. And this year I’m not going home for Christmas at all, so I am especially not into it.

But now everyone here thinks I worship the devil or something. At least four people have asked me why I don’t celebrate Christmas. I told one woman, "I just don’t. It isn’t a big deal or anything." She replied, sadly, "You may not think so. You may not think so." Then she shook her head and walked away. (An aside: Why is it that so many things these folks say are so cryptic? I don’t understand half of what they tell me. Is this a Southern thing?)

And now all the other teachers are sending their Jehovah’s Witness kids to me, as well—which if fine, but kind of funny, too. My room has become the haven for all kids of non-Christian persuasion. I certainly don’t mind that. I am starting to mind everyone acting like I am going to hell for not celebrating a religious holiday in my state-run school, though.
¶ 6:26 AM

1 comment:

  1. Hi Michele -

    When I was a public school elementary teacher (first and second grades) I began studying the Bible with Jehovah's Witnesses and did some independent research on the holidays. Because of what I discovered in both secular and religious literature, I made a personal decision not to celebrate any holiday which I found to have pagan roots, including Christmas.

    When I made this known to my students, I explained that we would do other special activities in place of the typical traditions, and they were delighted by that. And although some parents and a few teachers thought I was mean and perhaps a devil worshipper, most everyone else was fine with it. In fact, like you, other teachers sent me their witness students, and some even confessed that they envied me for my strong stand and not "giving in" to others' desires.

    Eventually I decided that I needed to inform my principal about what I was doing, and I was a tad scared about that conversation. However, she was wonderful! She totally approved, saying, the exhorbitant amount of classroom time spent by other teachers on the holidays takes so much time away from the more important things, like teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic. She applauded me for "doing the right thing" and said she hoped my example would rub off on some of my colleagues.

    I know how difficult it can be to stand up to others, especially your fellow teachers. Remember though, what you are doing is not wrong. In fact, if you dig into your state's educational bi-laws, you will find that there is a regulation saying that if a teacher does anything relating to any religion in their classroom, then one must give comparable teaching time to each of the world's five main religions. (Of course very few teachers or schools actually comply with this.

    Don't let others influence you in a negative way, Michele, and I hope your experience will be as good as mine. Keep up the good work.