Celebrating Difference

Interesting subject raised by a parent at a school meeting I attended the other day.

The mom was frustrated that despite the fact that we are trying to teach our kids to respect other cultures, the current attempts – getting rid of “Christmas” for “Holidays” or swapping “Halloween” for “Orange and Black day” – aren’t doing the job.Christmas

She suggested that what should be happening instead is developing a more inclusive system.

“Why not take ten days before the scheduled holiday break to celebrate several of the beliefs around the season? Why not have a parade of cultures instead of none?”

I thought she had a good point.

One of the things I love about our upcoming RTW trip is the fact that the kids will get a chance to see other cultures in action. I want them to be exposed to new things and to see old things in a new way.

But does that mean that wherever we end up next December we won’t put up a Christmas tree or wonder if Santa is on his way? I doubt it.

Sheriff Woody

Halloween might be tough to pull off in some places we'll visit but maybe there's something equally corny there

Why should any of us have to downplay our celebrations? When we tell the kids that “your celebration isn’t as valuable as you feel it is,” what are we teaching them about the world?

It’s a personal choice, I know, but I choose to  celebrate the differences.

Bring on the Ramadans and the Kwanzaas and the Dias del Muerto and the days of Chaunakkah (and all the food and treats that come with them!). I’m more than happy to learn – and have the kids learn – about it all.

One of my favourite quotes – and one that actually hangs on the wall of my office  – is from Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech in 1994.

The whole speech is phenomenal but my favourite lines include:

“There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you…As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

It’s one of the many things I’m hoping our time away and here at home will teach my children.

What do you believe?

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{ 5 comments… add one }

Jen Maier October 31, 2010, 3:49 PM

Awesome post, Heather! I totally agree with you. I believe that we are, in fact, serving no one by sanitizing Holidays and celebrations. Let’s inform people, celebrate our differences and encourage tolerance instead of ignorance and shame.

I love learning about other cultures and belief systems. People who are secure in who they are and what they stand for won’t be threatened by that.


Heather November 1, 2010, 8:44 AM

Good point about people feeling threatened Jen. I also think it’s a well-intentioned attempt to be politically correct that simply needs a second look.


Eden Spodek October 31, 2010, 8:28 PM

Heather, I’m totally with you on this one. We don’t have to remove the holidays from our schools but recognize there are different religious and cultural traditions. Let’s celebrate our differences, learn from each other and teach our children inclusiveness.


Heather November 1, 2010, 8:42 AM

Well said Eden. The more voices; the better the choir.


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