I’m Just a Festive Person

31 Oct

I’ve been debating all week about this post. I wasn’t sure if I should say anything. In the grand scheme of things, or even the small scheme, it’s not a big deal. I should probably just let it go. But, the fact that it’s days later and I’m still thinking about it means that for whatever reason, this issue resonates with me.

Let me start by saying that I love holidays. Not just the big ones like Easter and Christmas. ALL holidays. I’m the person that switches out her home décor the day after one holiday is over to be ready for the next one. I’m the person that wears green for St. Patrick’s Day when I’m not even a little bit Irish. I even celebrate Flag Day. That’s just the kind of person I am. I’m festive.

I’m also a public school teacher. Emphasis on the word public. All inclusive, all walks of life, all religions, all ethnicities. Public. There is chronic indecision in the public school system on how to handle The Holiday Situation. Do we celebrate all holidays, ever? Do we celebrate the holidays applicable to the majority of students attending? Or do we not acknowledge holidays whatsoever? My district, in particular, seems divided on this issue.

At the school where I teach, we play music for two minutes each morning. The music acts as a “two minute warning” for students to get to their first class. Through a series of events, the duty of selecting the songs to play has fallen into my lap. It was my plan this week to play the song “This Is Halloween” from The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Knowing our conflicted approach to the holidays, I went through the appropriate avenues and did get the go ahead from my principal to play the song. We played the song Monday, and it was awesome. Tuesday my principal told me that I couldn’t play it anymore. Apparently there were parent phone calls, and parents were concerned that we were celebrating Halloween as a school. I asked my principal if parents had specifically mentioned the song in said phone calls, and she said no, other factors had led to the calls. But, since we don’t officially celebrate Halloween as a school, I had to ixnay my song.

I was crestfallen. I love that song, and I was beyond excited to play it for our morning music. Yes, this is partially due to the fact that I love Halloween. But this song is also fitting for another reason.

Halloween is a big deal in my town, the town where my school is located. A BIG deal. We have three separate parades dedicated to Halloween. One of these parades even includes the public (PUBLIC) elementary school students getting out of school for a day to march in it. Together. As public schools. We have pumpkin carving contests, ghost tours, a Halloween gala, a medallion hunt, and then some. To say that Halloween is a part of our local culture is an understatement. Did I mention that the words to “This Is Halloween” include the line, “This our town of Halloween?” We ARE the town of Halloween. I don’t think I could have found a more fitting song.

I know that really, it’s just a song. It really should not be a big deal. But celebrating holidays is a part of my traditions. It’s a part of my culture. We speak a lot in education about celebrating our cultural diversity. Does this not include letting people celebrate their traditions and holidays, whatever those traditions and holidays may be? I can’t help but feel sometimes like I’m being told, “I do not participate in that tradition, so you can’t either.”

This is probably an awful way to feel. I know that I am naïve, and self-centered for thinking this way. I am in the majority population locally in almost every category. White. Middle Class. Christian. I’ve never known what it’s like to be in the minority. I’ve never known what it’s like to see 98% of the people around me participating in something that I’m not a part of.

But then again, I wasn’t asking anyone to participate. I was just asking to play a song. There are those that would argue that I’d be forcing all students to participate in the listening of the song. I can see that. But I’d happily play a song pertaining to any other holiday from any other culture/religion/tradition, and I’d happily listen to it. Like I said, I’m all about embracing the holidays of the world. I’m just a festive person.

Maybe I’ll bring this up again with my principal. Maybe I won’t. It is just a song, and a lot can change in a year. In the meantime, Happy Haunting for those of you who celebrate, and happy Friday for those of you who don’t!

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