Carol K. Howell letter: Some of 4 percent surely are children
I thought you might like to hear from a member of the other four percent. As a Jew, I'm not offended by "Merry Christmas." If the check-out clerk says it as she hands me my bag, I'm likely to say, "And Happy Hanukkah to you!" If she doesn't mind,...
I thought you might like to hear from a member of the other four percent. As a Jew, I'm not offended by "Merry Christmas." If the check-out clerk says it as she hands me my bag, I'm likely to say, "And Happy Hanukkah to you!" If she doesn't mind, I don't.
But where it did make a difference is in the public schools when my children were young. Every year they learned Christmas and Easter songs and brought home Christmas and Easter art projects and asked me the same piercing question: "Why can't we have Christmas trees or Easter baskets?" "Because we are Jewish," I would say, hoping they would understand that this was as much an essential fact of life as the color of their eyes.
But they got bombarded with Christian symbols and ritual - not just on TV, but in public school, which is supposed to be secular. I can still remember how it felt when I was a child and had to make Santa Clauses that I knew had nothing to do with me and sing Christmas carols that, despite their appealing melodies, felt like treason.
And it's not necessary, is it? Children can draw snowmen; they can sing about spring - they can celebrate the seasons in art and music without making other children feel like outsiders in their own schools. There must be Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist and other kinds of families who feel the same way.
As adults, we in the four percent are pretty good at holding onto our identities in a sea of otherness. But imagine the far more vulnerable point-of-view of the non-Christian child. Imagine if it were your child and the religious majority were reversed. Public schools are not the place for religious symbols and song. Otherwise, I'm perfectly happy to wish all 96 percent of you a very merry Christmas.
Carol K. Howell