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School Bans Santa Claus from Holiday Concert

Clearly inappropriate for children. BANNED!
Clearly inappropriate for children. BANNED!

Sigh. Here we go again. Yet another example of the simplemindedness that is prevalent in, ironically, our public education system. The principal of a school in Massachusetts sacked Santa the day before the annual winter concert. Parents tell CBS Boston that the concert traditionally closes with Santa running through the aisle but a parent complained, so the principal sent a letter home to parents which said in part:

“I am writing to you today to inform you of a change in our concert series this winter. Our First through Fourth grade concert as well as our Kindergarten concert will not include a visit from Santa Claus this year.”

Robert Thompson, who has two kids in the The Andrew Peabody School in Cambridge, is understandably upset. “I don’t think it’s right, and I know a lot of people agree with me,” said Thompson. “It seems like that’s what’s going on in America – the squeaky wheel gets oil. It’s a shame.”

Cambridge Superintendent Jeffrey Young backed his principal’s decision. “Our mission is around education. Santa’s not on the top of my list. … I just don’t know why he has to be in the school,” he told the Boston Globe.

No, Santa doesn’t have to be in the school but what’s the big deal? And what’s the complaint? That Santa is a religious figure? Get out. The Santa Claus we know and love is basically the result of Coca-Cola ads in the 1950s. A fat, jolly man who brings toys.

So let me get this right: more and more schools are ditching Halloween fun because it’s a pagan holiday and we can’t mix church and state yet the pledge of allegiance (“One nation under God”) is okay? But Santa is out and while we’re drunk with power, NO MORE BROWNIES either!  What is going on, people? It’s all in the name of fun for the kids and if Santa and his bag ain’t your thing, how hard is it to explain that the Santa we know (and love!) isn’t a real guy but was created over time to help celebrate a fun holiday? Or hey! How about using it as an educational opportunity to teach your kids about Saint Nicholas who was famous for his generous gifts to the poor (what a jerk! ban him!) and who the modern Santa is based on?

As Nick Gillespie from TIME notes in an article bemoaning the fact that schools are dropping Halloween celebrations at an alarming rate, “we are a society that is so scared of its own shadow that we can’t even enjoy ourselves anymore. We live in fear of what might be called the killjoy’s veto, where any complaint is enough to destroy even the least objectionable fun.”

Santa Claus running through the aisles at the end of a holiday concert is most certainly the least objectionable fun. What kind of jerk do you have to be to actually complain about that? And what kind of idiot (the principal of The Andrew Peabody School, apparently) do you have to be to take a complaint about Santa seriously? This viewpoint is completely disconnected from the reality of what’s being celebrated during the holiday season.

Schools are a place of learning and every student should be encouraged to understand and experience all types of social, national, and even religious holidays or events. It is up to parents and schools to put what the students learn into context, not outright ban something because it doesn’t fit with one family’s set of beliefs. I’m not Jewish but my kindergartener has been learning about Hanukkah at school and I fully support that. Not only that, but I sent her to a Catholic pre-school where she learned about Jesus and I encouraged that as well. Guess what? I’m agnostic. Yet where I’m lacking faith in God I have full faith in my ability to put all religions as well as Santa Claus into context for my children. I don’t believe in limiting my children’s exposure to certain things because we don’t believe in them, on the contrary, I believe in exposing my kids to everything so that I can be the first one to answer any questions that arise as a result of the experience.

What’s next, Friendship Day instead of the horror that is Valentine’s Day? Sheesh, America. Lighten up.

Image source: Monica Bielanko

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