When did things change? I believe it was after I was out of school. I remember hearing rumblings about restrictions and new rules and guidelines and it made me feel sad. Just like that traditions and celebrations were wiped out of schools.
Yes, I'm talking about Christmas parties. And not just Christmas. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Easter.
In Kindergarten, I had to leave school early the day we were going to have a candy hunt on the playground. The teachers hid those small solid chocolate eggs on the slide, in the tire swing, on the wooden frame of the playground and the kid would run around and find as many as possible. Because I had to leave early, my teacher allowed me to go out to the playground and pick up a few pieces of chocolate. That was in 1985.
On Halloween, there was a Halloween Festival. Not Harvest Festival. It was Halloween. There was a cake walk, bobbing for apples, face painting, etc in the school gym. Everyone dressed up in costume. I think my dad won the cake walk one year.
In 3rd grade, I remember taking part in the Christmas Show at my school. Each class was assigned a song and performed on stage in front of parents and students. My class got "Holly Jolly Christmas." There is a line in that song about kissing. Gross. I had never even heard of that song and to this day, I am still bitter that my class got stuck with a random Christmas song while others were assigned more traditional, popular songs.
In the weeks leading up to Christmas Break, the music teach, Mr. Haney, would roll his piano down to each classroom during music class. He would pass out a song book full of Christmas songs (Rudolph, Up on the Roof top, 12 Days of Christmas, etc) and while he played piano, we would sing the songs. Were there students who didn't participate? Yes. They were allowed to go to another class during that time or even go out to the playground. But the large majority of students stayed inside and sang Christmas songs. Did those kids feel left out? I don't know. Most 11 year old kids aren't that aware of how other kids were feeling. This is just how it was and it was fun for 99% of the kids in the school.
Just this last week in one of my meetings with students I work with, the topic of a Secret Santa gift exchange came up. Because I have been told to eliminate Christmas type celebrations, I had to let the student know we couldn't do that. I spun it towards the financial end, saying that I didn't want students to worry about shopping and if someone forgot to bring a gift for their person, that person would be without.
And it struck me. We have been trained for so many years to avoid talk of Christmas in a professional or school setting, when it does become a conversation, it is totally normally to shoot down ideas of fun, bonding and giving. When did the tide turn? When did the excluded group take over and why?
Guess what? We aren't all welcome to do everything offered in this big world. Some people take really nice vacations multiple times a year. Just because I can't doesn't mean that vacations should be banned. The idea of everyone being offended has been taken to a whole new level.
Just because you are offended, doesn't mean you are right. I miss Christmas celebrations. I miss not walking on eggshells when talking about Christmas. I'm okay with you not saying "Merry Christmas" if you don't celebrate Christmas and I hope you are okay with me saying it with joy and happiness.