Thursday, December 20, 2007

My holiday rant

I was in a bagel chain a weekend or so ago and I was sitting there people watching as I like to do when I am out in public. I noticed three young boys sitting down and their parents came over and then they started to eat their bagels. An elderly couple sat down next to them and drank their coffee. So at one point the elderly women said, "They are cute what are their names and how old are they." The mother answered and then came the part that annoyed me, the elderly women then said, "Are you excited for Christmas? What did you ask Santa for?" Now this annoys me, why should you assume that people celebrate Christmas? There enough people who do not celebrate this time of commercialism that if you do not know the people it is better to not assume anything than say something stupid. What if the mother had responded, "We don't celebrate Christmas, we are Jewish, Muslim, Hindu or Atheist or even as one child in my class Jehovah Witness." Now I don't really have an issue with it when you know the children, the children in my class are of course psyched about Christmas and have been talking non-stop about Santa so of course I engage them in this, but I know these children and I know their parents. I also know that I don't mention this to the child who is Jehovah Witness, but they are on a cruise this week so that is easy. I also know not to say anything to the Jewish child or the Hindu child in the other room. I also have a child who is Muslim, I think, and a child who I am not sure about, who might be Hindu, but I am not sure. Since they do not talk about it, I don't talk about it to them. As someone who is Jewish, this bothers me when people assume that you are Christian just cause you live in this country. I do celebrate Christmas as I am a halfsie, my dad is actually not Jewish, so it is not a big deal when people wish me Merry Christmas, but really don't be an ass and assume.

My other issue with asking about presents is that when I was working in the public school system, my whole class, almost, consisted of children who were from lower income families. This is the nature of most public preschools, that or they are for children with special needs independent of income. But anyway asking these children what they wanted for Christmas was totally unfair as these families were trying to pay rent, buy food and basic necessities, so Christmas presents may or may not happen for this family. There are more important things than presents, ya know.

On a separate topic, as a teacher we get gifts from students and their parents. Some of the gifts are nice like the multiple gift cards I have gotten but some are not so great or just not your taste, but deal with it. I had a teacher today whine about the fact that she got crushed up pretzels with caramel or something like that on them. She contended that this meant that the family didn't see her as a professional or that they didn't value what she did for their child. Now I understand that getting this may not be what you wanted and that you probably wanted a gift card to somewhere, but shut the fuck up already. This family got you something, they actually got you something that was homemade. This family made something and decided to share it with you. Hell it might have been the child's idea to give this to you. I tend to get random gifts of candy and such from one child, she will be at Starbucks and make her mom get chocolate for me and the other teacher. I have also gotten packages of gummy Dora snack packs and Oreos, these are all random gifts, but they are heartfelt and isn't that what matters? So when the family gives you the crushed up pretzels with caramel, throw them away if you want but first talk to the child, did they help make it, was it their idea, that kind of thing? People who whine about gifts that someone else gives them annoy me. I have no issues taking things back that family give me and even something from a child, I got a scarf this year that is nice (cashmere), but I don't really wear scarves so if I can figure out where it is from I will probably return it, but I am grateful that this family thought enough of me to get me something. And as I mentioned above, I worked for awhile with families that couldn't generally afford gifts for the teachers, so I rarely got anything, but did I see that as a sign of their opinion of me. NO, they couldn't afford to give gifts and so I didn't get them, but when if came to having food for parties we also did well as they could use food stamps for this stuff, so we always had a lot food. So gifts do not determine what others think of you, so the shitty gifts mean as much as the nice gifts, though I do like the fact that I have gotten gift cards to Barnes and Nobles on several occasions and now have $50 worth of Kohl's gift cards.

Oh and a big FUCK YOU to those who bitch about the War On Christmas.


Comrade Kevin said...

I doubt the elderly couple meant much harm, but it's good to be respective of other peoples' viewpoints which might not be the same as yours.

Regarding gifts--in the situation with the teacher, I get the feeling the gift itself has little to do with it---her feelings of insecurity that she is not being perceived as a professional is very telling.

The Cunning Runt said...

You've got a healthy perspective going on the Gift Thing, BR. To get anything from a poor family is a gift worth appreciating.

This year there happens to be no money for presents, so I'm suggesting to my kids that we each put a few of our favorite things under the tree and be grateful for what we already have.

Boxer rebel said...

CK- I know the older couple meant no harm by it, but still the point remains make sure that you are not causing issues with that family. I agree with you about the teachers own issues, I also wanted to say if you want to be viewed as a professional than act like a professional and whining is not professional.

CR- What a great idea about using what you already have. As I have noted before my sis in law gave me a mix CD of protest songs which I love because it a reflection of something she read here and then she took the time and effort to put together songs that she thought I would like.

FranIAm said...

War on Christmas... Bah humbug!

My friend Jeff (Jewish) and I were discussing this and the stupid resolution about Christians and so forth.

As he said, very wisely- "turnabout is fair play!"

People need to STFU about Christmas already. It is so overdone.

I think I will start a war on the war against Christmas! O'Reilly watch out, I am coming for you!! And I've got good backup.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Boxer, for saying this. The broad assumptions that people make drive me crazy, particularly at this time of year.

I may be viewed as reticent, but I'd rather be considered quiet instead of assinine.