People's incorrect assumptions making dd feel bad!!! - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-10-2003, 08:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Arrrggghhhh, I am starting to hate the holiday season. I hate to be the Grinch, and I know I live in an area where most people celebrate Christmas, but I wish people - complete strangers, of course - would stop asking my DD what she wants Santa to bring her this year, or if she has a pretty Christmas tree in her house.

She has been telling me that she wishes she were Christian so she could celebrate Christmas and Santa can come to her house, and she could take a picture with Santa at the mall, blah, blah, blah.

Now, we are not even observant Jews, but we do celebrate Hanukkah. And I know Jewish people who "do" a little Christmas, and I'm not judging them, but I just don't feel comfortable with that. No matter how commercial Christmas gets, it's a religious holiday and it is just not right for me to participate in a holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus! That doesn't mean that we won't go to friend's Christmas parties or whatever, but DD knows that it is not our holiday.

I have been sooo tempted to tell her that Santa is just pretend, but I am so worried that she will spill the beans to other kids and ruin it for them. I respect other families wishes to have their kids believe in Santa, so I've just told DD that he doesn't come to our house or the houses of any of our Jewish friends.

This is really silly, isn't it?

But it does tick me off when people ask DD about Santa when they don't even know if we celebrate Christmas. Just seems kind of clueless to me. :
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Old 12-10-2003, 09:01 PM
 
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As a Christian I do not see Santa as having anything to do with religion. A lot of the traditional Christmas decorations and other traditions are Christian per se either.

I know this is your family's decision though about where you cut the line.

I would politely correct people when they make those comments that you are Jewish so that they would know not to stick their feet in their mouths next time.

Mom of a 7 yr old, 4 yr old, and 1 yr old. Wow. How did that happen?
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Old 12-10-2003, 09:12 PM
 
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I totally respect your right not to celebrate the holiday, but just a little food for thought...

89% of Americans celebrate Christmas.

Most celebrate it on one of three levels:
1. The birth of Christ, who they view as the Savior of mankind.
2. The birth of Jesus, who they view as a nice guy and teacher whose ideas American culture was founded on.
3. A purely commerical gift-giving, family-gathering holiday.

Again, NOT trying to say you should celebrate it!
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Old 12-10-2003, 09:34 PM
 
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Yesterday we were at the hardware store and Cecelia was staring at a lady working there wearing a red shirt. The lady next to her said, "Oh she must like the color red, I bet she thinks you're Santa." I didn't want to burst their bubble and tell them that DD has never even seen Santa, let alone thinks he's a man who's bringing her gifts.

We're not Christian either, which people ALWAYS assume, but we have a tree and all that as part of our Solstice celebration. (Again, I'd hate to break their bubble and tell them that the whole evergreen thing is Pagan. )

People make a lot of ASSumptions.... I just ignore them. I'm sure that will be harder as DD gets older though...
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Old 12-10-2003, 10:25 PM
 
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Hiya! Well, if it makes you feel any better, we do live in a predominantly Jewish area (we are Jewish as well) and people STILL ask "have you done all your Christmas shopping?" My stock answer is either, "we don't celebrate Christmas" or "we celebrate a different holiday".

I know people are just saying it to be polite.

DD cracked me up yesterday - she goes to Jewish preschool (she's 3 1/2) and a woman asked her if she's "excited about Christmas". She looked the woman dead in the eye and said, "no. We don't celebrate Christmas, we're Jewish." So the woman says, "oh, I'm sorry" and my DD said, "Mommy, why is this lady sorry?" :LOL I felt bad for the woman, she really was just trying to be nice and she looked very embarrassed.

I bet she won't make that assumption anymore!

Edited to add: about your DD. I know that most Jewish kids go through a phase where they long to celebrate Christmas. You can only teach your child pride in what she is and know that this too shall pass. I really wouldn't was energy on anger - we are the vast minority in this country and that lesson will be learned eventually anyway!
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Old 12-11-2003, 12:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by LunaMom

I have been sooo tempted to tell her that Santa is just pretend, but I am so worried that she will spill the beans to other kids and ruin it for them. I respect other families wishes to have their kids believe in Santa, so I've just told DD that he doesn't come to our house or the houses of any of our Jewish friends.
JMO, but I'd tell her. My kids know santa isn't real and I don't think they've told anyone else. I refuse to lie to them so I've never done santa. Maybe your dd will feel better if she knows santa isn't real and that it's just their parents giving them stuff? Maybe she just feels a little left out?
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Old 12-11-2003, 12:13 AM
 
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I'm sorry that people's insensitive comments are making your DD feel bad! We're Christian, and I have to agree with Amara'smom that Santa has nothing to do with Christianity, but it doesn't matter - if you don't want to *do* Santa, that's your choice, and your DD shouldn't be made to feel bad about it.

I'm another one who thinks you should just tell her that there isn't really a Santa, but tell her not to tell. She'd probably like having a secret that the other kids dont' know, and it might take the sting out of Santa not coming to her house. Just an idea!

Anne wife to Phil & mama to Katie
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Old 12-11-2003, 12:58 AM
 
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I'd also tell her that Santa isn't real. And if you really wanted to, you could point out that she gets gifts at Hannukah for 8 days, Christians only get them one day (assuming that's how you do it).
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Old 12-11-2003, 01:05 AM
 
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I know that this is kind of a vent for you but you know what your right, taht is pretty wrong. I never really thought about it before but the world is so much more diverse now we really shoudl take that into consideration. and kudos for you for not "spilling the beans " about santa.
On another note it's really hard to be PC nowadays but we should try more.
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Old 12-11-2003, 01:35 AM
 
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We live in an area with a large Orthodox Jewish community and DH and my in laws are Jewish. I try to make a point to wish people a happy holiday since you never know what they celebrate.
I'm sorry to hear that your dd is having a rough time of it. I'd try and remind her of the 8 days of the holiday instead of just 1. When I was little, I was always jealous of my Jewish friends who had 8 days when I just had 1.

Stephanie, mom to 3 big girls ('94, '99 & '02) and to my little guy (12/30/09) intact & CD'ed!
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Old 12-11-2003, 02:03 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by sharonal
I totally respect your right not to celebrate the holiday, but just a little food for thought...
89% of Americans celebrate Christmas.
Most celebrate it on one of three levels:
...Again, NOT trying to say you should celebrate it!
Uh, and you think you need to point this out why? It's "food for thought"? Do you think there are any non-Christians in this country who don't know that the majority of people here celebrate Christmas? Did you think the OP slept through her entire upbringing, that she doesn't know she's in the minority?

Did you know that people who are in the minority in any way often know more about the majority culture than their own? I dare you to come up with the lyrics to any Hanukah song. Maybe you know "dreidel dreidel". I, on the other hand, know all the words to "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", "White Christmas" (written by a Jew, y'all) "Silent Night" (ditto) "Oh Come All Ye Faithful", "The Little Drummer Boy", "The Holly and the Ivy" (okay, that might really be pagan) and oh, so many more. Many many more.

I say, to LunaMom, don't you dare let your child think that Santa Claus is "real." Tell her the truth. What are you doing, making her feel like Jews are getting the short end of the stick with Santa? Don't do that!

Do what my mom did with us: make and buy some Hanukah decorations and put them up in your house. Hang one of those "Happy Hanukah" signs in your window. You can buy pre-made stuff
here if you don't have a Jewish bookstore near you. I know, it's really tacky, but it feels good. My mom made construction paper images of Judah Maccabee with his shield and a lion with a fringed mane, and got us not one but two Happy Hanukah signs, one for the front window, one for the back.

Have a Hanukah party and invite Dd's friends. Serve latkes. Play klezmer records--

play them LOUD.

Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
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Old 12-11-2003, 02:16 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by captain optimism
Uh, and you think you need to point this out why?
I was thinking the same thing. What other reason than to suggest she celebrate Christmas?
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Old 12-11-2003, 02:24 AM
 
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Uh...I was kinda wondering the same thing too...

BTW, ITA about the Santa thing. My parents told me he wasn't real but told me to be sensitive to those that thought he was.
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Old 12-11-2003, 02:39 AM
 
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I also vote to tell her Santa isn't real I think letting her believe he's real but doesn't come to her house is guaranteed to make her feel left out. You can do what I do. I've told dd that people like to pretend Santa is real. We celebrate Christmas but don't do Santa, so that's how I explain it. She's 5 now, but she's seemed to understand it for a few years.

And I have to second that when I was little I was jealous of my Jewish best friend who had 8 days of gifts :LOL Not that you want to encourage materialism, but you could play that up a bit.

Ok, this may sound like a different subject, but we homeschool and CONSTANTLY get the school questions from strangers. At first I would answer "we homeschool" but now, at 5, she answers it proudly herself most of the time. When people ask her if Santa is bringing her toys, how about you answer for her and excitedly say "oh no, but we're *so* looking forward to 8 days of Chanukah and latkes and playing dreidel and . . . " (whatever you guys do in your family). I bet if you did that, after awhile she'd answer herself!
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Old 12-11-2003, 02:43 AM
 
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I've been thinking about this a lot this season...we aren't Jewish, and I no longer have anyone in my circle of friends who is Jewish (I have a few acquaintances, but no close friends) because of geography, but I've been noticing the assumptions that everyone makes and feeling sad for anyone living in the area where I live...today for example, we were at the local My Gym, and the owner was decorating with garland and ornaments...she asked me something about it and I started to point out that there were no dreidels (I hope I spelled that correctly) or things related to Chanukah when I realized that she did in fact have silver and blue along one wall. So I stopped and she noted it too. But dagnabbit she's the only person who seems to realize that not everyone celebrates the same holidays! I would like to see people acknowledging Solstice and Kwanzaa and any other tradition. I'm sorry you're struggling with this right now...hopefully that came out right.

Leah

edited for spelling
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Old 12-11-2003, 05:58 AM
 
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I am sorry that people are being insensitive about your religion. We are (no longer) christian, but keep christmas because most of our family is and they want to celebrate it. Not the same though, anyway, it made me think about whether I ask other kids about santa and I guess I don't. but I will pay extra attention NOT to ask unless they bring it up.

And I also agree that you could explain it to your DD that Santa is not real. I think you can explain it in a way that is sensitive to others. If she does spill the beans the parents of the other kids can recoup. I had my sister believing in Santa after my parents explained what was up, and she believed in Santa till she was almost 8! I am really such a terrible sister, but I liked living vicariously through her so much. Selfish though I know.

Still, I really feel that the whole Christmas thing does get shoved down your throat a bit and I don't like it. And DH's firm always has the holiday party so it overlaps ramadan (well, not this year but the last few years it has) which I think is sort of rude. I mean, you are having a feast at a time when some people really cannot go! Grrr

Happy Holidays everyone
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Old 12-11-2003, 11:33 AM
 
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Well a lady I know invented hannukah Harry. he is Santa's cousin who lives in the South pole and he wears blue and drives a blue sleigh with a star of David n the side of it. She invented Hannukah Harry because she is Jewish and her DH is catholic and they celebrate both, but she wanted the children when they were small to be as excited about Hanukkah as they were about Christmas.

Sort of like Ross' Hannukah Armadillo (for those of us who watch Friends)

Imagine the look on someone's face when they ask what santa is bringing and she says nothing, but Hannukah Harry is! LOL.

and I have been with my friend when someone says "Merry Christmas" she replies "Happy Hannukah!"

(And a very happy hannukah to you!)
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Old 12-11-2003, 12:12 PM
 
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We are christian, but we don't do Santa. I've told them that its fine to "pretend" about Santa, and they do. I've also told them that different families believe different things, and its never okay to tell someone they are "wrong" about their personal beliefs. If one child believes in Santa and the other does not -- then they simply hold different beliefs. My older son has run into similar disagreements about belief in God -- nobody's life has been ruined. Its possible for children to respectfully disagree.

I feel angry on your dd's behalf -- its wrong for people to make assumptions about beliefs. My son does not go to public school, but many of our friends and neighbors do. I'm horrified every year by the content of the ps school curriculum -- it is a matter of fact that they will write letters to Santa in writing class, and they will make santa/reindeer/candycane projects in art. Its horrifying and incredibly disrespectful to me that they just "assume" everyone will be into all this.

My son's private school goes over the basics of many different December holidays. They actually downplay Christmas. Last year a Jewish mom came in and cooked with the class, and taught them to play "dreidle." Did I spell that right?
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Old 12-11-2003, 12:49 PM
 
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T Hanukah Harry? I believe there was a Saturday Night Live sketch about Hanukah Harry. That totally great actor, Jon Lovitz, played him. It was funny. Hanukah Harry subs for Santa, which makes all the non-Jewish children happy--but brings them socks and underwear as Christmas presents, which confuses them. I love Jon Lovitz. The cantor in my mom's schul looks just like him, so whenever I go there I have to stifle my laughter.

Ramadan is on a lunar calendar so it falls each year at a slightly different time. Hanukah is on a luni-solar calendar, so it's always a at a different time but generally falls during December.

The presents-at-Hanukah thing isn't such a big deal. Jewish children used to get money to gamble with () and then that changed to presents, I think to compete with Christmas. But it is fun to exchange presents. For the last 25-30 years it's been traditional to give children (and grown-ups) chocolate coins for gambling. In my family I remember gambling with pretzels.

There are lots of fun things for children that are a normal part of Hanukah. This includes the actual mitzvah (commandment) to light candles where people can see them. Children can arrange the candles in their menorah in the color order they like, or you can use oil wicks, which is very cool. The dreidel is a naturally fun thing for children. Fried foods, fun for children. (Okay, fried foods are fun for everyone! ) You can make homemade applesauce to go with your latkes, that's a fun thing. Parties are fun. Dreidels are fun, whether you gamble with them or not (and no matter how you spell them.) The story of Hanukah is an interesting story to learn, and that's fun. (Don't forget to teach your daughters about the female heroines attached to Hanukah.)

Socks and underwear are fun presents. ag

I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's fun to be Jewish, even during Christmas. What's not fun is dealing with people's intolerance. Luckily for all of us who are various kinds of minorities, the general trend in our country is tolerance and freedom of religion. God rest ye merry, gentlewomen.

Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
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Old 12-11-2003, 01:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone.

I have to admit, I was put off by the post that pointed out that the majority of Americans celebrate Christmas. I kinda knew that already...: And I can't figure out the purpose of telling me that - was it to suggest that I should just shut up and deal with it because I'm a minority? Yeah, just like all those African-Americans should quit complaining about taxicabs passing them by or being followed around by security guards in stores...don't they know that 75% of people living in America are white??? :

I'm not usually this snotty or sarcastic, but I couldn't help myself.
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Old 12-11-2003, 01:45 PM
 
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I've never met a real live Jewish person. I mean, I talk to you guys, but never in person. I promise, if I were to ask your children about Christmas, I'm not trying to be rude or dismissive. (This, of course, is assuming I'd meet you without knowing who you are, see. It'd be rather retarded of me to ask if I already KNEW, ya know?) It just wouldn't occur to me.

In general, I dislike people asking my kids about what they're getting for Christmas. That's putting the focus on the wrong thing. But people like to make small talk and that's an easy conversation with a lot of kids.

I'm with captain optimism. Enjoy your traditions and beliefs and teach your children the songs, games and stories. Also, tell your kids the truth about Santa. She's not going to ruin anything for someone else. If they want to believe bad enough, they will.

The most important thing...I can't know everything about everyone upon a chance meeting in the line at the supermarket. I can either be friendly and make conversation and enjoy myself, or I can fear saying the wrong thing and be quiet and not enjoy the company of others around me. If I say the wrong thing, tell me so. I might learn something.

(I loved that Jon Lovitz sketch, btw. There isn't really a Hanukah Harry, is there?)
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Old 12-11-2003, 02:16 PM
 
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I agree with all the posters who suggested playing up all the fun parts of your celebration, and also telling her that Santa isn't real.

And while I do agree that not honoring other religions in public school is insensitive, I have to say that I think it's kind of a leap to call people rude and insensitive if they say "Merry Christmas" or ask a kid about Santa. I understand your perspective, but they are just trying to be nice, and we all make assumptions when we don't know someone. Maybe we assume they are American, maybe we assume they were not adopted. Asking a child what they want for their birthday and then finding out that their family are Jehovah's Witness doesn't make them rude, IMO. I am all for being culturally sensitive, but it comes to a point where no one can say anything without fear of upsetting someone.

Just kind of a related story: My mom was at the grocery store the other day, and saw two men getting out of the car next to her with a baby. She said to them something like "Oh, I love to see two men shopping with a baby!" (My mom talks to strangers a lot.) In her mind, she was being complimentary that they were taking on typically female responsibilities. Inside the store, one of the men approached her and said "You know, that's OUR baby." And she said, "Well, I assumed it was your baby." And he said "No, it's OUR baby." She finally got what he was saying - that they were a gay couple that had adopted the baby. She said "Oh, I like that even better!" in a cheerful voice. He just kind of glared at her and walked away. So somehow he was offended by her comments, when in reality she would be the first person to wholeheartedly support same sex couples raising children, and certainly didn't mean anything negative. But it gets to a point where we're all going to have to stop even talking to strangers for fear of offending them, and that just isn't right.

So instead of being angry that it doesn't occur to other people that maybe you don't celebrate Christmas, maybe see it as an opportunity to educate them on your holiday, and show your daughter that you are proud of your heritage.

Oh, and when the other poster said that 89% of people celebrated Christmas, I thought she was just pointing out that since so many people celebrate Christmas that it kind of explained why they assumed that the person they are talking to would. I could be wrong, but that's how I read it.
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Old 12-11-2003, 02:37 PM
 
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Other people do that, we do this. Plain & simple.



The jealousy part is tough, but if you're consistent in not making it like you've got "sloppy seconds," IYKWIM, then your child won't feel like that, either.








And in re: the 89 percent who celebrate Christmas, etc., etc., etc. ... this is not just in America. It's a world-wide fact of life for Jews. In only one country in the world ... count 'em, folks, one ... can Jews say the majority celebrates Chanuka.

Only one.

Only one country in the world where you don't have to worry about final exams possibly scheduled for Shavuot, or job deadlines scheduled for Sukkot, or even school orientations for Rosh HaShanah. Not to mention birthday parties (with cake, right?) during Passover. Or the boss expecting you to be able to come in to work on Saturday.

Which is what Jews world-over put up with on a regular basis. Because people make assumptions. And because there's only one place where Jews are the majority, slim though that majority may be.
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Old 12-11-2003, 02:38 PM
 
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T again: I just wanted to post a link to a photo of the guy who looks like Jon Lovitz mainly for Chelle's benefit. If you scroll down to the photo of him in his special cantor's hat (not too many cantors wear those anymore, ya know) you will understand why I crack up whenever I go to this synagogue. Also, he's got a great voice, but sometimes his use of vibrato reminds me of Jon Lovitz, too. (Who also has a great voice. Jon Lovitz is a very talented guy. )

I guess, for me, the thing isn't that people shouldn't say "Merry X-mas" or whatever, but that it's tough for a mom to figure out how to support her child in being in the minority. That's what I got from the OP. Jews are actually a very small minority in the US as a whole, maybe 2% of the entire population.

My dh still hates hearing X-mas music, still gets all annoyed at the overwhelming Christmas cheer. But not me. I have no problem when people wish me a Merry Christmas, I always find some way to say something nice back. Until this discussion, I thought this was because of my positive contact with Christmas when I worked at a Catholic children's hospital.

But now I think it was because my mom made us feel good about Hanukah when I was child. My dh said, "But you lived in a mainly Jewish area when you were growing up!" True! But that didn't mean we weren't completely bombarded with Christmas, just like everyone else in the United States. Still it was a special thing for me that my mom had actually made us some decorations, and they were pretty good. Other Jewish kids in our area actually had Christmas trees. :

I still arrange the Hanukah candles in a particular order.

(I also really enjoy my movies and Chinese food experience on X-mas. )

Anyway, thank you for helping me find another thing that my mom did right.

Divorced mom of one awesome boy born 2-3-2003.
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Old 12-11-2003, 02:50 PM
 
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co: That link is getting a lot of hits, I think. LOL I'm waaaaiting.

If it makes your dh feel any better at all, ~I~ get tired of all the Christmas cheer. Especially since it's starting in OCTOBER now. Arrrgh!!!

Happy Holidays!
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Old 12-11-2003, 02:59 PM
 
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I'm sorry your DD is going through this.

I'm assuming the poster who posted the Christmas stats didn't realize that non-Christians celebrated Christmas and wanted to show that you *could* celebrate Santa but not embrace Christianity. I don't know them, though, so I don't know for sure.

I wanted to mention that, as a Christian, I get sick of people asking about Santa. DS (2) is terrified of him, DD (4) will *look* at him, but not get within 10 feet. Also, we do stockings as "gift bags" for Baby Jesus' birthday. So, they get things like gummy bears, lol. They don't really ask Santa for things and they definately know they are getting them--- if they are "good" or not. I HATE people asking my kids if they've been "good enough" for Santa to come. The last thing I need is my kids thinking they're not good enough for a fat little man to break & enter their house!

I always try to say "Seasons Greetings" or "Happy Holidays" hoping that is okay. Is it?

 

 

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Old 12-11-2003, 03:04 PM
 
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Just wanted to say that if you are going to tell your DD that there is no Santa Clause maybe you could also point out that the idea of Santa Clause did come from an actual person and tell her teh story of Saint Nicolas and how he used to leave little presenstf ro the children. Just so she knows that there was a "santa clause " in history and not just a mad up commercial type thing. This is what we did for DS. He knows that the ,all santa do not really bring him gifts but that there is an idea or memory behind those he sees so he's less inclined to dissapoint other childrens beliefs that way. Just a though.
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Old 12-11-2003, 03:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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And while I do agree that not honoring other religions in public school is insensitive, I have to say that I think it's kind of a leap to call people rude and insensitive if they say "Merry Christmas" or ask a kid about Santa.
Hey, wait, I never said anyone was rude. I know they are just being friendly, it just bugs me that people don't think first before they make assumptions, and it bugs me that it's creating Santa-envy in my child.
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Old 12-11-2003, 03:26 PM
 
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I agree it's not rude or disrespectful to talk about Christmas to kids. Again, my example is homeschooling (really, it's related!) It's not religion obviously, but homeschoolers are in the minority everywhere and, other than in December, asking about school is the number 1 topic of conversation with kids (even in the summer it's "are you glad school is out?" or "are you going to school this fall?"). I don't think it's rude or disrespectful for people to ask these questions. Yes, it is at times annoying, but I recognize that since the large majority of kids in this country go to school, they are simply making an assumption based on that fact. It may be ignorance, but I wouldn't call it rude.

And what someone said about feeling good about Chanukah goes for me and homeschooling too (I promise, I do have more than a one track mind ) When my dd was younger and people asked if she was going to school I just said no. We started getting questions when she was 2 and for a few years I would just say no and leave it at that. When she was 4 I finally realized that instead of focusing on what she was *not* doing, I needed to focus on what we *were* doing. Not talking about homeschooling it was as if I was embarrassed or something. So I started telling complete strangers we were homeschooling when they asked if she was in school. Now she's 5 and she proudly says it herself

So for the Christmas thing, you need to take the focus off of what you aren't doing and focus on what you *are* doing. Show your dd that you are proud of who you are instead of letting her focus on what she thinks she's missing
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Old 12-11-2003, 03:29 PM
 
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LunaMom, we posted the same time I just wanted to say my post wasn't implying you said it was rude, I just was responding to other posts. And I like to ramble on, :LOL
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