Every year, starting around Halloween it never fails that some teachers get their long underwear in a bunch over not being able to celebrate their holidays like the “good ole’ days.” Ladies and gents, I have seen every flipping argument in the book. From it’s my culture to it’s a free country, it never fails that we have teachers still fighting for them to flaunt their beliefs into the faces of their students.
Let’s get real here, you typically don’t decorate your classroom for yourself. Everything you do is in some way connected to sending a message to your students. When you put words up on a word wall, you’re saying that these words are important. When you decorate with fall leaves, you’re setting the theme to seasonal. When you are putting up images of a Christmas tree, you’re saying that Christmas is important. What does this tell our students who don’t celebrate Christmas? What is the real outcome?
Recently, I was in a discussion where the now few years old argument against saying happy holidays came up. Once again, people took sides where on one side, they didn’t want to offend those who don’t celebrate Christmas, and on the other side, they think it’s their right to say what they want to whom they want without worrying about what that person celebrates. However, I want to ask, why the hell do we say anything at all? What objective do you have when you say either Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays? Why can’t you just say, “Have a nice day!” and move on? Oh, is it because you want to share that your major holiday in case they didn’t notice the decorations and commercials that are quite literally everywhere? And let’s be real, even “happy holidays” is a ridiculous thing to say considering there is literally just a coverall for Merry Christmas. If you truly meant happy holiday’s, you would need to begin saying it December 2nd this year because that’s the beginning of Hanukkah, but none of you knew that because Happy Holiday’s is American English for “I’m not really saying Merry Christmas because I am culturally competent!”
Now, I’m not saying not to ever say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays to anyone. What I am advocating for is knowing your audience. If you have students who don’t celebrate Christmas, or you find that you are uncertain, then just say goodbye or hello as normal to them unless they initiate the holiday greeting. Just because a holiday is “secular” according to you, it probably isn’t according to some in your classroom. Even Thanksgiving is seen by some as a negative holiday. In fact, recently I had a conversation with a student who told me that this family doesn’t celebrate the 4th of July due to the fact that there were slaves when this country continued to celebrate its “freedom.”
And that’s what racism gets you. Angry. Angry that anyone would dare challenge something as basically American as the 4th of July. Or just angry that you can no longer push your religious beliefs on students by putting up and decorating a tree in your classroom.