Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: VltGrantham on January 03, 2013, 09:48:35 AM

Title: I have not the words...UPDATE: Post #132
Post by: VltGrantham on January 03, 2013, 09:48:35 AM
DD, 6, wanted to give her classmates presents prior to winter break.  I agreed she could give something small as long as it was neutral and not candy.  (Which they get far too much of in school already in my opinion.)

She opted to purchase each classmate an acrylic snowflake ornament.  I thought it was fairly neutral.  Obviously it's meant for a Christmas tree, but it isn't overly "Christmasy" and someone could hang it in their room if they wanted as a winter decoration or something.  They're fairly pretty and sparkle in the light.  I thought her choice was excellent.

We put them in flat white bags, tied with some silver and blue ribbons.  A little card that said "Have a wonderful winter break.  See you in 2013!  Your friend, DD" was attached.  All in all I thought we had done excellent in keeping them as uncontroversial as possible.

Yesterday was her first day back at school.  She returned home with a note that her teacher had given her.  I thought maybe one of the parents/kids had written a thank you note.  Boy was I wrong.  Boiled down, the note was a long sermon on how offended the parents were because they do not celebrate Christmas and its commercialization of the birth of Christ.  That their child was "traumatized" by having to give up his/her "present."  How rude we were to put them in that position.  (I noticed that they did not return the ornament though.)

I honestly don't know what to think at this point.  Why would anybody do that?  I'm kinda of the "let it go" at this point because I think if I did offer an apology, I don't believe it would be well received and I honestly don't know that I would be able to write one that would come across as sincere since I think the whole thing is rather silly.

ETA:  fixed spelling
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Shoo on January 03, 2013, 09:52:42 AM
There's nothing you can do, so I think you should just forget about them.  There will always be people who will rain on the happiness and joy of other people simply because they choose to not participate in it and they begrudge it for others.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: RingTailedLemur on January 03, 2013, 09:53:39 AM
Given that the ornament and greeting was entirely non-Christmassy, I would say these people were looking to be offended and went out of their way to be offensive towards you.

Forget them, and never give them anything again.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Redwing on January 03, 2013, 09:54:24 AM
I think I'd let it go.  How sweet of your daughter to want to give gifts to her classmates!
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: onyonryngs on January 03, 2013, 09:56:48 AM
You gave them a Christmas ornament.  While it may not have screamed "Christmas" it did whisper it very loudly.  Offending someone's religious beliefs is not silly and they're entitled to those feelings.  At this point I would let it go and not give Christmas presents to the class next year.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: NotCinderell on January 03, 2013, 09:57:22 AM
Some people are looking to be offended.

I'll give you an example of how I have handled a similar situation.  I am Jewish.  One year a Christian friend sent me what was obviously a Christmas tree ornament that she had made herself.  It was a blue ball ornament covered in a blue and silver mesh that she'd knitted herself.  It was pretty, but I don't have a tree.  It was clearly made in Chanukah colors, and she was obviously being thoughtful.

So I hung it in my window, where it hangs every day,  and when I see it, I smile.

They could have done that, instead.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: NotCinderell on January 03, 2013, 09:59:41 AM
You gave them a Christmas ornament.  While it may not have screamed "Christmas" it did whisper it very loudly.  Offending someone's religious beliefs is not silly and they're entitled to those feelings.  At this point I would let it go and not give Christmas presents to the class next year.

Sorry, I don't see how giving someone a snowflake is offending someone's religious beliefs.  Snowflakes are not something that are exclusive to Christmas, the way that Santa Claus or even holly wreaths might be.  Lots of kids have pretty things hanging up in their rooms just to have them hanging up.  A snowflake is for winter.  It's a present for no reason.  I don't see the issue.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: yokozbornak on January 03, 2013, 09:59:43 AM
Ahhh, a snowflake for a snowflake.  It's fitting that they kept they gift, don't you think?  >:D

I would let it go and probably steer my daughter away from that friendship a bit.  They sound like wackadoos (said as a Christian who observes Christmas).
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Shoo on January 03, 2013, 10:00:17 AM
You gave them a Christmas ornament.  While it may not have screamed "Christmas" it did whisper it very loudly.  Offending someone's religious beliefs is not silly and they're entitled to those feelings.  At this point I would let it go and not give Christmas presents to the class next year.

In what way is giving a Christmas gift "offending someone's beliefs?"  All they had to do was throw it away.  They CHOSE to be offended.  The OP's daughter wasn't making a statement about their beliefs in any way.  All she was doing was celebrating hers.  Why is that offensive?
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: onyonryngs on January 03, 2013, 10:04:40 AM
You gave them a Christmas ornament.  While it may not have screamed "Christmas" it did whisper it very loudly.  Offending someone's religious beliefs is not silly and they're entitled to those feelings.  At this point I would let it go and not give Christmas presents to the class next year.

In what way is giving a Christmas gift "offending someone's beliefs?"  All they had to do was throw it away.  They CHOSE to be offended.  The OP's daughter wasn't making a statement about their beliefs in any way.  All she was doing was celebrating hers.  Why is that offensive?

It's offensive because it was done at school.  It's fine to exchange gifts between friends, but when it comes to religious holidays and the classroom, you tread very carefully. 
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Luci on January 03, 2013, 10:08:43 AM
That is so sad. I hope your DD didn't get bruised by the whole thing.

You gave them a Christmas ornament.  While it may not have screamed "Christmas" it did whisper it very loudly.  Offending someone's religious beliefs is not silly and they're entitled to those feelings.  At this point I would let it go and not give Christmas presents to the class next year.

I hang ornaments on mirrors and windows a lot, using suction cups. Right now I am putting snowflakes in my picture window aroung the stuffed showman.

I am not offended if someone from another culture gives me something, even spiritual, from her heart, even if is does go against my personal beliefs. I know she is sharing, not trying to change my convictions.

I think it was a "Thinking of you" gift, not a Christmas gift.

OP already made it clear she and DD were understanding of others' possible feelings toward Christmas. Sadly, that one recipient didn't see it that way.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Outdoor Girl on January 03, 2013, 10:09:34 AM
I agree that they chose to be offended.  The following is a story of how people could (and IMO, should) behave:

When I moved into my first apartment, it was in the basement of my landlords' house.  They were Muslim.  That first Christmas, I agonized over whether or not I should give them a gift.  And I agonized over the card to go with it, once I decided that I was going to give them something.  I very carefully chose a card that said 'Happy Holidays' and not 'Merry Christmas'.  Not only did I get a gift back from them (that I still use 22 years later), the card they enclosed said 'Merry Christmas'.

For the next 8 Christmas I lived there, I gave them a gift and they reciprocated.  I still send them a card now that I've moved away.  When I still lived in the area, I used to visit and take them some baking.  And she gave me some of their's that had been made for Ramadan, which was still close to Christmas at the time I left.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Shoo on January 03, 2013, 10:10:42 AM
I agree that they chose to be offended.  The following is a story of how people could (and IMO, should) behave:

When I moved into my first apartment, it was in the basement of my landlords' house.  They were Muslim.  That first Christmas, I agonized over whether or not I should give them a gift.  And I agonized over the card to go with it, once I decided that I was going to give them something.  I very carefully chose a card that said 'Happy Holidays' and not 'Merry Christmas'.  Not only did I get a gift back from them (that I still use 22 years later), the card they enclosed said 'Merry Christmas'.

For the next 8 Christmas I lived there, I gave them a gift and they reciprocated.  I still send them a card now that I've moved away.  When I still lived in the area, I used to visit and take them some baking.  And she gave me some of their's that had been made for Ramadan, which was still close to Christmas at the time I left.

True class.  I wish everyone behaved this way.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Sharnita on January 03, 2013, 10:11:25 AM
I disagree.  They spend most of their waking hours at school, this is where their friends are.  This is the end of an old year, the beginning of a new one.  It is the longest break they have save for the end of the year altogether.  It makes sense for that to be the time to give the other kids a token of your affection of appreciation and affection.  When kindness and generosity are what get us in a twist over our kids' schooling maybe it is time to homeschool lest somebody accidentally compliment them or offer to help them.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: oceanus on January 03, 2013, 10:12:47 AM
I think I'd let it go.  How sweet of your daughter to want to give gifts to her classmates!

This.  Hope your sweet DD was not upset by such silliness.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: onyonryngs on January 03, 2013, 10:15:37 AM
It's a know your audience thing.  Some kids aren't allowed to accept Valentine's cards either.  It should be up to the parent to decide if their kid can accept the gift.  It was a sweet thought, but I just don't think that religious observances have a place in public school - that's why people are in public school and not a parochial school.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: yokozbornak on January 03, 2013, 10:21:44 AM
It's a know your audience thing.  Some kids aren't allowed to accept Valentine's cards either.  It should be up to the parent to decide if their kid can accept the gift.  It was a sweet thought, but I just don't think that religious observances have a place in public school - that's why people are in public school and not a parochial school.

Well, the family in questions DOES observe Christmas.  They are not offended because the OP is giving a Christmas gift, they are offended because she celebrates it "wrong." 

Also, I think the discussion about religious observances at school is getting into territory that we can't discuss on E-Hell.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Jaelle on January 03, 2013, 10:22:15 AM
But this wasn't a religious observation! Not at all. It was a snowflake — for winter break, quite logical.

I wonder, though, if this isn't backward. If the parents were upset because it wasn't religious? The note said they don't choose to celebrate because of "the commercialization of the birth of Christ." Perhaps they were offended by the "happy holidays" and secular nature.

(Like I had people snap at me one year for using "happy holidays" cards instead of "Merry Christmas" ones  ... when I was sending them to Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan and nonobservant friends.   ::))

Either way, OP, I'm sorry for your daughter. It was a sweet gesture.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: peaches on January 03, 2013, 10:25:36 AM
Your DD is a very thoughtful person. I applaud her for that. :)

Before giving anything away at school, I'd consult with the teacher first. I wouldn't just assume it's ok. Some schools have rules about such things.


Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: VltGrantham on January 03, 2013, 10:25:59 AM
Quote
Hope your sweet DD was not upset by such silliness.

To be honest, I haven't told her yet.  She brought the note home in a sealed envelope.  I read it and did not tell her.

It does pose something of a conundrum for us as we were already planning Valentine's Day stuff.  (I know, I'm crazy, but I hate waiting until last minute.)

We had planned on making MP3 players out of boxes of crayons and Hershey's Kisses for earbuds.  (Here's a link, if you're interested - http://ewspider.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/that-candy-box-mp3-player-thingy-for-valentines-day/ (http://ewspider.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/that-candy-box-mp3-player-thingy-for-valentines-day/)).

Now, do I make one for all the classmates excluding one?  That seems hurtful.  Or brave the parents' wrath?  Or what?

Quote
It's a know your audience thing.  Some kids aren't allowed to accept Valentine's cards either.  It should be up to the parent to decide if their kid can accept the gift.  It was a sweet thought, but I just don't think that religious observances have a place in public school - that's why people are in public school and not a parochial school.

In this case, I'd be interested in finding out if the school and/or teacher received a note as well.  All of the children came home with huge holiday bags stamped with Santa Claus and stuffed with Christmas treats (holiday themed coloring books, Christmas candy, small toys, etc).  I think we went out of our way to make the gift as seasonal as possible without tying it to any particular religion.  The Christmas tree has pagan origins, a snowflake is not specific to any religion, and the colors chosen were seasonal for winter as well.  It's not like we handed out tiny creches.

ETA:  I should also mention that we were solicited for contributions to these bags well before the winter break--so I did not see anything wrong in providing an additional small gift from DD.  And I did make sure she gifted everyone so that no one would feel left out.

Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: RebeccainGA on January 03, 2013, 10:27:52 AM
Truly appropriate gift for such SS parents!

Even my most anti-Christmas, militant (in their words) Pagan friends, who have a Yule Tree and don't allow Santa in the house wouldn't be offended by this. Nor would my Adventist HS friend (who wasn't allowed to celebrate birthdays or holidays). These people were actively looking to be offended. For pete's sake, it's WINTER, and it was a SNOWFLAKE!

You did fine. They have the issue.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: laceandbits on January 03, 2013, 10:37:45 AM
"It was a sweet thought, but I just don't think that religious observances have a place in public school - that's why people are in public school and not a parochial school."

But the OP made it quite clear that they carefully chose a not-religious symbol and the accompanying card said happy winter break.  As far as I know the only people who celebrate winter breaks are Druids and they prefer mistletoe to snowflakes.  This is just parents making a point for the sake of it, and this unpleasantness is a good example of why I find religion is often used to cause nearly as many problems as it solves.  Where is love and tolerance in the ungracious way in which this gift was received.

"Some kids aren't allowed to accept Valentine's cards either." 
Now, this one I do find strange.  Valentine's cards are for *secret* admirers to send, not for children to exchange.  The not-knowing-who-it's-from is the whole point of them. 
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: TylerBelle on January 03, 2013, 10:42:03 AM
They didn't give the ornament back, yet they claimed to be offended by receiving it? How does that work? I agree with the pps who said these folks were looking to be offended. Myself as celebrating Christmas to be of Jesus' birth, I gotta say if I had a child, I would be quite touched for him/her to receive such a gift. Snowflakes are beautiful.

Also I'd like to echo how considerate your DD is, and I hope she won't let these negative instances taint her thoughtfulness.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: BeagleMommy on January 03, 2013, 10:43:36 AM
DH and I take special pains to make sure we offer a holiday card that meets the needs of all of his clients.  His clients are Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Non Denominational and Atheist.  We always choose a card that says "Happy Holidays" and send a homemade "gift card" giving each client 15% off any one service.

It seems like this parent was either looking for a reason to be offended or maybe felt embarrassed that they gave nothing to the class (can't say for sure, obviously, but I've had to deal with this before).
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Queen of Clubs on January 03, 2013, 10:51:17 AM
But this wasn't a religious observation! Not at all. It was a snowflake — for winter break, quite logical.

I wonder, though, if this isn't backward. If the parents were upset because it wasn't religious? The note said they don't choose to celebrate because of "the commercialization of the birth of Christ." Perhaps they were offended by the "happy holidays" and secular nature.

(Like I had people snap at me one year for using "happy holidays" cards instead of "Merry Christmas" ones  ... when I was sending them to Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan and nonobservant friends.   ::))

Either way, OP, I'm sorry for your daughter. It was a sweet gesture.

That was how I read it too - that they're offended that it wasn't a religious-based gift.

I think a snowflake ornament sounds lovely.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Yvaine on January 03, 2013, 10:52:31 AM
It does pose something of a conundrum for us as we were already planning Valentine's Day stuff.  (I know, I'm crazy, but I hate waiting until last minute.)

I'd say don't plan out Valentine's stuff until you know what the class guidelines are. I'm in my mid-thirties (so not even from the current wave of more sensitivity) and we had Valentine's card exchanges, but it was pretty structured. You'll want to find out how the teacher plans to handle it before you invest a lot of time or money.

"Some kids aren't allowed to accept Valentine's cards either." 
Now, this one I do find strange.  Valentine's cards are for *secret* admirers to send, not for children to exchange.  The not-knowing-who-it's-from is the whole point of them. 

This may be regional? Kids exchanging little Valentine's cards is really really common where I grew up (Midwest US). They generally come in packages of, oh I don't know, 30 or so? About as many as you'd need to distribute to a grade school class, anyway. They'll usually have Spiderman or Pokemon or something on them. Adult romantic partners do also exchange cards and gifts (though not anonymously) but this is pretty separate from the kiddie observance of the holiday.

Anyway, OP, I'm sorry these parents are nasty. I doubt it was even just directed at you--probably the teacher got a nasty note as well for handing out the bags in the first place, as well as any other kid whose name could be tied to it. I really feel bad that they made their kid give up the stuff and wrote the note to your kid--it seems like they're content to let children suffer all the hurt feelings that stem from the adults' rudeness.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: mbbored on January 03, 2013, 10:53:18 AM
"It was a sweet thought, but I just don't think that religious observances have a place in public school - that's why people are in public school and not a parochial school."

But the OP made it quite clear that they carefully chose a not-religious symbol and the accompanying card said happy winter break.  As far as I know the only people who celebrate winter breaks are Druids and they prefer mistletoe to snowflakes.  This is just parents making a point for the sake of it, and this unpleasantness is a good example of why I find religion is often used to cause nearly as many problems as it solves.  Where is love and tolerance in the ungracious way in which this gift was received.

"Some kids aren't allowed to accept Valentine's cards either." 
Now, this one I do find strange.  Valentine's cards are for *secret* admirers to send, not for children to exchange.  The not-knowing-who-it's-from is the whole point of them.

A snowflake may not be a religious symbol, but a Christmas ornament is just that: something associated with a particular religion's holiday.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: RingTailedLemur on January 03, 2013, 10:55:46 AM
"It was a sweet thought, but I just don't think that religious observances have a place in public school - that's why people are in public school and not a parochial school."

But the OP made it quite clear that they carefully chose a not-religious symbol and the accompanying card said happy winter break.  As far as I know the only people who celebrate winter breaks are Druids and they prefer mistletoe to snowflakes.  This is just parents making a point for the sake of it, and this unpleasantness is a good example of why I find religion is often used to cause nearly as many problems as it solves.  Where is love and tolerance in the ungracious way in which this gift was received.

"Some kids aren't allowed to accept Valentine's cards either." 
Now, this one I do find strange.  Valentine's cards are for *secret* admirers to send, not for children to exchange.  The not-knowing-who-it's-from is the whole point of them.

A snowflake may not be a religious symbol, but a Christmas ornament is just that: something associated with a particular religion's holiday.

Who said it was a "Christmas" ornament?
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: onyonryngs on January 03, 2013, 11:01:57 AM
"It was a sweet thought, but I just don't think that religious observances have a place in public school - that's why people are in public school and not a parochial school."

But the OP made it quite clear that they carefully chose a not-religious symbol and the accompanying card said happy winter break.  As far as I know the only people who celebrate winter breaks are Druids and they prefer mistletoe to snowflakes.  This is just parents making a point for the sake of it, and this unpleasantness is a good example of why I find religion is often used to cause nearly as many problems as it solves.  Where is love and tolerance in the ungracious way in which this gift was received.

"Some kids aren't allowed to accept Valentine's cards either." 
Now, this one I do find strange.  Valentine's cards are for *secret* admirers to send, not for children to exchange.  The not-knowing-who-it's-from is the whole point of them.

A snowflake may not be a religious symbol, but a Christmas ornament is just that: something associated with a particular religion's holiday.

Who said it was a "Christmas" ornament?

The OP.  She said it was obviously a Christmas ornament.

This may be regional? Kids exchanging little Valentine's cards is really really common where I grew up (Midwest US). They generally come in packages of, oh I don't know, 30 or so? About as many as you'd need to distribute to a grade school class, anyway. They'll usually have Spiderman or Pokemon or something on them. Adult romantic partners do also exchange cards and gifts (though not anonymously) but this is pretty separate from the kiddie observance of the holiday.

There are some religions that prohibit this.  It's not regional.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: a clever screenname on January 03, 2013, 11:02:23 AM
Is there a possibility that because this additional snowflake gift was sent home the same day as the Santa-stamped gift bag that this parent mistook the whole gift bag as the gift from DD?
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Thipu1 on January 03, 2013, 11:03:44 AM
Has the crazy HOA Lady from years past surfaced again?  It sure sounds like it.

I'm thinking of cavorting snow-women and the infamous racist bagels as well as the dictum for Halloween costumes. 

Your DD wanted to give a little Winter Break gift to her classmates.  That's a sweet thing to do and she is to be applauded for her thoughtfulness. In my youth, no parent of whatever religious belief would have been offended by such a gift.  A snowflake ornament is a snowflake.  We all hope that we will see snowflakes in winter and, if we're lucky, catch them on our tongues. 






Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Lynn2000 on January 03, 2013, 11:04:53 AM
In this case, I'd be interested in finding out if the school and/or teacher received a note as well.  All of the children came home with huge holiday bags stamped with Santa Claus and stuffed with Christmas treats (holiday themed coloring books, Christmas candy, small toys, etc).  I think we went out of our way to make the gift as seasonal as possible without tying it to any particular religion.  The Christmas tree has pagan origins, a snowflake is not specific to any religion, and the colors chosen were seasonal for winter as well.  It's not like we handed out tiny creches.

ETA:  I should also mention that we were solicited for contributions to these bags well before the winter break--so I did not see anything wrong in providing an additional small gift from DD.  And I did make sure she gifted everyone so that no one would feel left out.

In this case, it seems like the school itself was perfectly happy handing out explicitly Christmas stuff, and even trying to get parents to contribute to that, so the OP had no reason to suspect that DD's gift would offend anyone, since the school was doing the same thing in an even more Christmas-y way. OP, could you talk to the teacher about this? It might help you to get a better feel for what the other parents in general expect, if there was any negative feedback about the school Christmas stuff, etc.. Plus, the teacher could keep an eye on the child with the offended parents, on the off chance s/he retaliates against DD. Who knows, maybe the teacher will say, "Oh them? Yeah, they find something to complain about twice a month. Guess it's your turn."

I don't think I would tell DD about it. I would guess that while picking out the ornament and writing the note you already had discussions about respecting other people's beliefs--"Why can't we do the Santa Claus?"--and I think at her age it probably wouldn't do any good to tell her someone thought you'd failed.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Yvaine on January 03, 2013, 11:07:18 AM
This may be regional? Kids exchanging little Valentine's cards is really really common where I grew up (Midwest US). They generally come in packages of, oh I don't know, 30 or so? About as many as you'd need to distribute to a grade school class, anyway. They'll usually have Spiderman or Pokemon or something on them. Adult romantic partners do also exchange cards and gifts (though not anonymously) but this is pretty separate from the kiddie observance of the holiday.

There are some religions that prohibit this.  It's not regional.

Oh, sorry, I'm not referring to your comment about religion and Valentine's. I'm referring to laceandbits' comment where she was confused that kids would exchange valentines at all because she was only familiar with the tradition as something adults did anonymously.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: acicularis on January 03, 2013, 11:09:45 AM
I think you were fine.  This parent was looking for a reason to be offended.  You're probably right to just let it go.

Sometimes my daughters bring home Christmas cards that are religious in nature. We are not Christian, but I don't kick up a fuss about these cards. Their friends are just trying to be nice, so we accept them in the spirit they were given.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Otterpop on January 03, 2013, 11:28:24 AM
In every large population there are a certain number of whackdoodles.  You just observed one.  Tag them, let them go and track from a great distance.  They should provide entertainment for years to come as long as it's not YOU who provokes (though with certainty, it will be someone).
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: ladyknight1 on January 03, 2013, 11:28:42 AM
Having a little celebration for every possible holiday was commonplace in my son's elementary school. I always sent in pencils with seasonal designs and fun erasers. I don't see anything wrong with what you did, OP.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: VltGrantham on January 03, 2013, 11:33:13 AM
Quote
The OP.  She said it was obviously a Christmas ornament.

Yes, I did.  However, had I just described it as a "sparkly, acrylic snowflake" and not added that it was indeed a Christmas ornament, would the inference be the same?  Could it not also be a sun catcher?  A winter decoration?  That was why we chose that one. 

I have to admit, I think the parents are picking at straws here.

I'm going to talk to DD's teacher tomorrow.  If she thinks it is o.k., I will make the Valentine's for everyone and let her decide whether or not to slip this kid's one into the bag he/she will be getting from the school or she can return it to DD and she can have one extra.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: mj on January 03, 2013, 11:35:17 AM
I read it as the parent was upset that the ornament wasn't religious enough.

OP, we did have a handful of people this year upset that the elementary schools choir program was labeled "Holiday Program" rather than "Christmas Program".  And not just a little upset, upset enough that they started a Facebook page to claim we are squashing their religion in schools.  It seems to have gained a little movement with people across the States. 

I wouldn't pay attention.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: gorplady on January 03, 2013, 11:40:07 AM
Honestly, you should just ignore them. Or, you could nonchalantly write them back and say "cool story, bro. Special snowflakes aren't just winter decorations any more. Who knew? Thanks for the heads-up." And smile secretly, because you know what special snowflake means.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: VltGrantham on January 03, 2013, 11:46:11 AM
Quote
Special snowflakes aren't just winter decorations any more. Who knew? Thanks for the heads-up." And smile secretly, because you know what special snowflake means.

LOL--that has REALLY caught on in our family and I did get it from this board.  DH and DD both use it and now my Mom does too.

Anytime anyone does anything like that, she'll just raise an eyebrow and say "aah...another special snowflake!"
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: SPuck on January 03, 2013, 11:54:26 AM
I would ignore it but talk to the teacher. From your post it sounds like it was sent by way of the teacher, and if they have the gaul to send you something I would not be surprised if they sent the teacher something. I would want to clear the air on that end.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: onyonryngs on January 03, 2013, 11:58:50 AM
This may be regional? Kids exchanging little Valentine's cards is really really common where I grew up (Midwest US). They generally come in packages of, oh I don't know, 30 or so? About as many as you'd need to distribute to a grade school class, anyway. They'll usually have Spiderman or Pokemon or something on them. Adult romantic partners do also exchange cards and gifts (though not anonymously) but this is pretty separate from the kiddie observance of the holiday.

There are some religions that prohibit this.  It's not regional.

Misread that one - speed reading is not my strong suit obviously!  Sorry!
Oh, sorry, I'm not referring to your comment about religion and Valentine's. I'm referring to laceandbits' comment where she was confused that kids would exchange valentines at all because she was only familiar with the tradition as something adults did anonymously.

And wanted to add that it could've been handled better by giftee's parents - just a short note requesting no gifts for their child was all that was needed. 
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: The TARDIS on January 03, 2013, 12:03:28 PM
I recall once being the only class unable to celebrate with a Christmas party before break because there was one Muslim and one Jewish student in it. The other classes had a blast. Those two kids ended up bullied because they "ruined all the fun." It was such a shame.

There was no way your daughter could have known the religion of everyone in her class. She stayed with the spirit of the holiday which is love and giving. It's a sad thing that her kindness was met in such a nasty way.

In my opinion, the children of parents who are strictly religious that way should be taught young to say "Thank you, but I cannot accept this. Do you have any friends in another class you can give it to instead?"

I hope the sentence above doesn't delve into forbidden territory. My apologies if it has.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: miranova on January 03, 2013, 12:05:55 PM
An elementary school child is not an agent of the government and thus is not even capable of promoting a state religion so there is no seperation of church and state issue here.  Private citizens can give whatever overtly religious gifts they wish to, and people are free to dispose of them as they wish.

Having said that, that's not even what happened here.  It's a snowflake for Pete's sake.  A snowflake is not religious.

The biggest irony here is that the parents seem to be religious themselves.  I don't think writing nasty letters to an elementary school child's obviously positive intentions is something Jesus would do.   ::)
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: miranova on January 03, 2013, 12:09:47 PM
If one follows a religion where one can not accept certain gifts, that does not extend to me not being able to give gifts.  Certainly, if I know in advance that you don't want gifts, I will respect that and not give you one, but people who have the stance of not receiving Valentine's need to own their own beliefs.  This means that having a disappointed child is going to happen now and again.  Either their beliefs are important enough to explain the disappointment to their child or not.  They can't expect the entire world to stop celebrating holidays because they don't want to deal with their child's disappointment. 
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: audrey1962 on January 03, 2013, 12:12:43 PM
I just don't think that religious observances have a place in public school - that's why people are in public school and not a parochial school.

Or they can't afford the tuition for a parochial school.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: poundcake on January 03, 2013, 12:15:23 PM
Quote
I recall once being the only class unable to celebrate with a Christmas party before break because there was one Muslim and one Jewish student in it. The other classes had a blast. Those two kids ended up bullied because they "ruined all the fun." It was such a shame.

Why couldn't the class celebrate all three? It seems like a great opportunity to learn about other cultures and holidays.

These parents are obviously able to practice whatever religion they want in whatever way they want, but I would also suggest talking to the teacher, if only to clear the air. It would be nice to think that as a society we've grown beyond the "If one person is offended, we have to cancel everything for everyone" mentality, and your situation has nothing to do with promoting any religious ideology in the classroom. And leave your daughter out of this. These issues are too complicated for most adults. She doesn't need to have her feelings hurt as a bonus.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: miranova on January 03, 2013, 12:16:51 PM
I forgot to mention, I would never show that letter to my child.  She did a nice thing; that should not be spoiled by one person's nastiness.  Whatever happened to quietly disposing of a gift one does not like?
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: audrey11 on January 03, 2013, 12:22:25 PM
I must disagree that the parents who were offended were rude.  I belong to a non-Christian religion, and our religious leaders teach us that it is a sin to participate in religious holidays that are not ours.  Even the appearance of participation, such as the acceptance of gifts from those who celebrate Christmas, is considered sinful.  The snowflake ornament would not have even been allowed to come into our homes, also because snowflakes are considered Christmassy.  While the older children are of an age to understand the reasoning behind this, a six year old is not quite there.  Had that been my child, I would have much preferred that no present had been given at all, rather than having to take a pretty, shiny thing away.  While it is nice that your child wanted to give gifts to her classmates, perhaps it would have been nicer to only give gifts to the children who were actually permitted to have them.

That being said, I probably would have said nothing to the teacher, but it would certainly make me rethink any friendships with the children who put my (hypothetical) child in such a position. 
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Yvaine on January 03, 2013, 12:26:12 PM
I must disagree that the parents who were offended were rude.  I belong to a non-Christian religion, and our religious leaders teach us that it is a sin to participate in religious holidays that are not ours.  Even the appearance of participation, such as the acceptance of gifts from those who celebrate Christmas, is considered sinful.  The snowflake ornament would not have even been allowed to come into our homes, also because snowflakes are considered Christmassy.  While the older children are of an age to understand the reasoning behind this, a six year old is not quite there.  Had that been my child, I would have much preferred that no present had been given at all, rather than having to take a pretty, shiny thing away.  While it is nice that your child wanted to give gifts to her classmates, perhaps it would have been nicer to only give gifts to the children who were actually permitted to have them.

That being said, I probably would have said nothing to the teacher, but it would certainly make me rethink any friendships with the children who put my (hypothetical) child in such a position.

But no matter your (general you) beliefs, it's still rude to write a letter berating the child--not even the parent, but the 6-year-old--for giving the gift.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: camlan on January 03, 2013, 12:30:16 PM
I have a slightly different take on this situation.

The parents have the right to be offended. (Granted, I think they were *trying* to be offended, but they have that right.) However, they handled the situation incorrectly from the start.

If they are that dead set on not celebrating Christmas, then they need to teach their child not to accept gifts from others around Christmas time.

If the child is upset about not getting the gift, that is for the parents to deal with. It is a natural consequence of their decisions about Christmas.

And while I think they have the right to politely inform the parents of other children that their child comes into contact with about their policy, so that the other children won't give their child gifts, the letter, or "sermon,"  they sent was not the way to do this. They could have sent something along the lines of, "Dear Other Parents, while we think it was a lovely gesture that your daughter sent home "Holiday Gifts" to every student in her class, our family does not celebrate Christmas and other religious holidays. In the future, please exclude our child from any gift-giving that she does in the class." A letter like that wouldn't have the OP posting here, I think.

The suggestions to talk to the teacher are good. The teacher should be able to suggest ways for the OP's daughter to gift her classmates, while not giving a gift to this one child. 
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on January 03, 2013, 12:39:24 PM
It does pose something of a conundrum for us as we were already planning Valentine's Day stuff.  (I know, I'm crazy, but I hate waiting until last minute.)

I'd say don't plan out Valentine's stuff until you know what the class guidelines are. I'm in my mid-thirties (so not even from the current wave of more sensitivity) and we had Valentine's card exchanges, but it was pretty structured. You'll want to find out how the teacher plans to handle it before you invest a lot of time or money.

"Some kids aren't allowed to accept Valentine's cards either." 
Now, this one I do find strange.  Valentine's cards are for *secret* admirers to send, not for children to exchange.  The not-knowing-who-it's-from is the whole point of them. 

This may be regional? Kids exchanging little Valentine's cards is really really common where I grew up (Midwest US). They generally come in packages of, oh I don't know, 30 or so? About as many as you'd need to distribute to a grade school class, anyway. They'll usually have Spiderman or Pokemon or something on them. Adult romantic partners do also exchange cards and gifts (though not anonymously) but this is pretty separate from the kiddie observance of the holiday.

Anyway, OP, I'm sorry these parents are nasty. I doubt it was even just directed at you--probably the teacher got a nasty note as well for handing out the bags in the first place, as well as any other kid whose name could be tied to it. I really feel bad that they made their kid give up the stuff and wrote the note to your kid--it seems like they're content to let children suffer all the hurt feelings that stem from the adults' rudeness.

My experience of Valentine's day was the same, and I'm mid 30's too, and in the Midatlantic area of the US.  We handed out little cardboard themed valentines to everyone in the class, and it's still done that way in elementary school these days.  Once I got to middle school, with 7 classes a day, that stopped and I think the booster club or someone started selling single roses that people could buy and have delivered to a friend or someone they had a crush on. 

Actually, a few years ago in one office I worked in, for fun we decided to exchange those fun little valentines in the office.  We all put paper bags with our names in them on the conference room table and when we went to lunch we had fun looking to see what we got.  No one was surprised when they saw I gave out Pirates of the Caribbean valentines. ;)

And I agree too that the parents who would right such a letter were not just rude but rather nasty about it.  That the OP and her daughter gave out the snowflakes in the first place gives me the impression they did not know of the family's religious standpoint, and just didn't want anyone to be left out, or they would not have gone this route.  So it's not like they smugly sent the girl home with it knowing it was forbidden and would cause issues. 

In other words, I'm with many other pp's.  Snowflake for the snowflakes.

Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: VltGrantham on January 03, 2013, 12:43:03 PM
Quote
While it is nice that your child wanted to give gifts to her classmates, perhaps it would have been nicer to only give gifts to the children who were actually permitted to have them.  That being said, I probably would have said nothing to the teacher, but it would certainly make me rethink any friendships with the children who put my (hypothetical) child in such a position.

To be honest, how am I or any parent supposed to know that in advance?  If your religion considers it a sin to accept any such gift because it is against your beliefs, then why would it be everyone's responsibility or fault for not knowing that in advance?  Would it not be more prudent to notify the teacher and school in advance?  Or better yet, when contributions were solicited for gift bags, let it be known that your child cannot participate due to his or her religious practice?

It is vastly different since it wouldn't cause death in the literal sense of the word, but it would be like the parent of a child who has a deathly allergy to peanuts not informing the school of such a problem, then complaining that their child was made sick by the association with a food containing nut products.

I am more than willing to respect others' religious beliefs, but you cannot expect that I would have the foresight to predict such extreme circumstances.  And why on earth would you judge another child or his/her parents for trying to be friendly when they are ignorant of your situation?  Is that not also against your religious beliefs?  I could understand your being cautious and even angry if such incidents continued to occur, but one friendly gesture is grounds for rethinking possible future friendships?
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: miranova on January 03, 2013, 12:45:14 PM
I must disagree that the parents who were offended were rude.  I belong to a non-Christian religion, and our religious leaders teach us that it is a sin to participate in religious holidays that are not ours.  Even the appearance of participation, such as the acceptance of gifts from those who celebrate Christmas, is considered sinful.  The snowflake ornament would not have even been allowed to come into our homes, also because snowflakes are considered Christmassy.  While the older children are of an age to understand the reasoning behind this, a six year old is not quite there.  Had that been my child, I would have much preferred that no present had been given at all, rather than having to take a pretty, shiny thing away.  While it is nice that your child wanted to give gifts to her classmates, perhaps it would have been nicer to only give gifts to the children who were actually permitted to have them.

That being said, I probably would have said nothing to the teacher, but it would certainly make me rethink any friendships with the children who put my (hypothetical) child in such a position.

They are not rude to feel offended, but they were most certainly rude in their response of sending a nasty letter.  That is not a polite way to inform other people that you prefer not to receive snowflakes.  Really, I can not imagine how they expected anyone to know ahead of time that this would be so offensive.  As to your last sentence, I am just...stunned that you can turn a child's obviously good intentions into an assumption that the child was deliberately trying to put your child in a bad position.  People give gifts in the month of December all the time.  This is not something that is done with any malice!  They are not putting your hypothetical child in a bad spot.  Your child can't receive gifts, thus it is your responsibility to teach her to say no thank you.  It is not everyone else's job to read minds. 
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Sharnita on January 03, 2013, 12:53:22 PM
Honestly, if the parents were smart they could have used the whole situation to support their argument. "See, when their family gives a gift they don't call it a Christmas gift. They don't talk about Santa. That is because they know that Christmas is about Jesus. Gifts do not have anything to do with Christmas - see, they never once mentioned it."
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: MeowMixer on January 03, 2013, 01:06:53 PM
Wow. That is sad. It's just a low blow that dims the light in the world. I like Camlan's response, and in a world where people don't take offence and on top of that seek to hurt the other person in the process (in this case, a 6 year old child) this response would have been used and we would not be reading about here. That someone would send such a hurtful letter to a child speaks volumes about its author.

Some people just can't take what others give them in the spirit in which it was meant. A snowflake is not meant to be malicious, a kind gesture is not meant to be social commentary on your beliefs, it's meant to bring a smile to others.

Don't mention this to your daughter, just be sure not to include this child in your gift giving and as a PP said let them deal with the fallout. Your DD did a sweet thing (most kids will only think of one or two friends, not the whole class). As for Valentine's Day, I love the idea you posted! It's cute! And I recall very clearly handing out to the whole class V-day cards and cinnamon hearts, it was a very usual thing in my southern Ontario school.

People like these parents are why many don't extend themselves as far to be kind to others. An automatic response of 'bless you' to a sneeze is open to a lecture, holding the door open for someone interpreted as 'oh you think just because I'm a woman I can't open my own door!' remark.  Don't assume that an act of kindness is an indictment against you and your beliefs, you bite someones head off and they are less inclined to help or offer a kind word to the next person. 'Pay it forward' becomes obsolete and the world just becomes a crappier place to be.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: squeakers on January 03, 2013, 01:19:20 PM
Quote
While it is nice that your child wanted to give gifts to her classmates, perhaps it would have been nicer to only give gifts to the children who were actually permitted to have them.  That being said, I probably would have said nothing to the teacher, but it would certainly make me rethink any friendships with the children who put my (hypothetical) child in such a position.

To be honest, how am I or any parent supposed to know that in advance?  If your religion considers it a sin to accept any such gift because it is against your beliefs, then why would it be everyone's responsibility or fault for not knowing that in advance?  Would it not be more prudent to notify the teacher and school in advance?  Or better yet, when contributions were solicited for gift bags, let it be known that your child cannot participate due to his or her religious practice?


With my kids and back in the dinosaurs' days when I attended grade school there was a note sent home saying "If you do not want your child to participate in X activity they will do "Y" instead". (Usually "Y" was read in the library.) So that no Jehovah's Witness child nor Jewish/Muslim/Pagan child _had_ to color Christmas tree pages, they didn't have to make play dough ornaments or sing songs promoting another religion. (Or do Halloween activities, Valentine's.. I wish there had been one to stop with the dumb "paper Indian headdress and vests" at Thanksgiving.)

Do you know for sure that the little girl took home the same Christmas-sy stuff your daughter did? Or that maybe at the beginning of the year the parents already spoke with the school about what things their daughter was allowed to do?  So maybe she didn't take that stuff home but took your daughter's gift home because she didn't know any better.  Did the teacher know about the gift or was it being given out lost amidst the upcoming break's frenetic activities?

I think while a gift from a classmate is a nice gesture it is also a showy one that would have made me uncomfortable.  Not from the (non)religious standpoint but because then I would wonder if we had missed a note home telling us to get gifts for all the kids.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: ------ on January 03, 2013, 01:20:56 PM
{{SIGH}}

Sometimes I think everyone should be required to wear a sign stapled to their foreheads outlining their religious (or non) beliefs and their policies on greetings and gift giving. I think it's gotten quite out of hand and is very confusing.

From an etiquette perspective, I cannot see where you went wrong, OP. Your daughter gave a small gift to her classmates as a kind gesture. You even went to extra lengths to ensure that it was neutral and would offend no one. Yet, it did, either because it was perceived as still too religious in nature, or because it wasn't religious enough.

We read often on this board about what to do in the event someone receives a gift that they do not like, can't use, find offensive, etc. Isn't the etiquette of the situation that one should graciously accept the gift with thanks in the spirit in which it was given, and then privately use or dispose of the item as one likes? So, from that standpoint, the parents of the child who received your daughter's kind gift not only alienated the parents of their child's classmate, but expressed their opinions (however valid or not) about her gift in the most nasty, rude and ill-mannered way possible, short of leaving a flaming bag of...something...on your front stoop.

All I can say is wow. What a way to teach your kid to be ungrateful and rude. I feel sorry for the little kid.

I really think etiquette should be required curriculum in school, like reading, writing and arithmetic.

OP, I think you did nothing wrong. And your daughter sounds like she is growing into a fine young lady with a kind heart. If there was a mistake made by you in giving the gift, it was the mistake of a generous heart.

And if the recipient's parents are offended (which I don't personally think they should be, but have the right nonetheless) the way they followed up was, in my opinion, a horrible breach of etiquette.  I'm so sorry this happened to you.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Poppea on January 03, 2013, 01:27:02 PM
You gave them a Christmas ornament.  While it may not have screamed "Christmas" it did whisper it very loudly.  Offending someone's religious beliefs is not silly and they're entitled to those feelings.  At this point I would let it go and not give Christmas presents to the class next year.

In what way is giving a Christmas gift "offending someone's beliefs?"  All they had to do was throw it away.  They CHOSE to be offended.  The OP's daughter wasn't making a statement about their beliefs in any way.  All she was doing was celebrating hers.  Why is that offensive?

It's offensive because it was done at school.  It's fine to exchange gifts between friends, but when it comes to religious holidays and the classroom, you tread very carefully.

Sorry, the teachers and administration need to tread carefully.  Students are free to express their religious beliefs.  Whats next?  Jews can't wear ar Star o David necklace nor Christians crosses because someone might see it and be offended? 
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Thipu1 on January 03, 2013, 01:28:00 PM
When I was in the third grade (8 years-old) my public school teacher was the wife of the local Rabbi.  Almost all of the kids in my class were Roman Catholic or members of mainstream Protestant Churches.

  Still, we learned a bit about Judaism.  In December we had a Christmas tree in the classroom but we also had a menorah.  We each received a dreidl and a little mesh bag of Hannukah gelt. We were treated to latkes with applesauce.  The few Jewish kids who already knew about this preferred sour cream.   We also were read stories and were given coloring pages about the Macabees.  The boys especially liked that.  After all,  for a guy kid, heroes are so much more fun than Santa. 

For Purim we made crowns in art class and ate hematashen while we marched around the classroom with noisemakers.  It was almost like Halloween half-way around the year!

This all happened around 1955 when the USA was supposed to be so hide-bound in religious matters.

In later years I asked my mother what other parents thought about this.  She told me that she never
heard a word against it and, indeed, Christian ladies really enjoyed getting the latke recipe.  It goes
 so well with the pork roast, you know.

There is a big difference between sharing fun and proselytizing.  A family may not share the religious
 beliefs of others but learning about them is always a good thing.  It brings people together while being rigid builds up barriers that don't need to be there. 









Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: TootsNYC on January 03, 2013, 01:28:41 PM
I think if you wanted to write a note, you could say this:

"Dear other parents:
"I'm so sorry that my daughter's winter-break present was offensive to your family, and that it contributed to a difficult parenting situation for you. She had hoped to express her affection to her friends, and we thought perhaps kids could hang the sparkly snowflake in their windows to catch the winter sunshine and remind them of how much fun snow is.
    "Please return the snowflake as soon as you can, and accept our apologies for unwittingly including your child in our gift giving."
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Outdoor Girl on January 03, 2013, 01:29:49 PM
Quote
I recall once being the only class unable to celebrate with a Christmas party before break because there was one Muslim and one Jewish student in it. The other classes had a blast. Those two kids ended up bullied because they "ruined all the fun." It was such a shame.

Why couldn't the class celebrate all three? It seems like a great opportunity to learn about other cultures and holidays.

My Dad did something like this when he was teaching - way back in the 50's.  He was teaching the Christmas story (which was acceptable back then).  One mother came to him and told him that her family was Jewish.  Dad started to sweat a little until she said she was happy for her son to learn about Christianity and asked if it would be OK for her and her son to do a little presentation to the class about Jewish holidays, particularly Hannukah.  Which he happily agreed to.

I am wondering if the overreaction was due to the whole bag of 'stuff', rather than just the snowflake.  But even if it was, it is not appropriate to berate a 6 year old!  Just toss or donate whatever you've received and send a note to the teacher, asking that your child be exempted from the goody bags and any other gift giving.

My wider workplace is very multicultural.  In the last year or so, we get a hub email at the beginning of each month, detailing any 'Days of Significance' for that month.  I've learned a little bit about Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, Buddist, Hindu and other religions and there is always a link if you want to learn more.  I think it is great.

And I just saw TootsNYC's post.  Perfect.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Poppea on January 03, 2013, 01:29:58 PM
Quote
Hope your sweet DD was not upset by such silliness.

To be honest, I haven't told her yet.  She brought the note home in a sealed envelope.  I read it and did not tell her.

It does pose something of a conundrum for us as we were already planning Valentine's Day stuff.  (I know, I'm crazy, but I hate waiting until last minute.)

We had planned on making MP3 players out of boxes of crayons and Hershey's Kisses for earbuds.  (Here's a link, if you're interested - http://ewspider.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/that-candy-box-mp3-player-thingy-for-valentines-day/ (http://ewspider.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/that-candy-box-mp3-player-thingy-for-valentines-day/)).

Now, do I make one for all the classmates excluding one?  That seems hurtful.  Or brave the parents' wrath?  Or what?

Quote
It's a know your audience thing.  Some kids aren't allowed to accept Valentine's cards either.  It should be up to the parent to decide if their kid can accept the gift.  It was a sweet thought, but I just don't think that religious observances have a place in public school - that's why people are in public school and not a parochial school.

In this case, I'd be interested in finding out if the school and/or teacher received a note as well.  All of the children came home with huge holiday bags stamped with Santa Claus and stuffed with Christmas treats (holiday themed coloring books, Christmas candy, small toys, etc).  I think we went out of our way to make the gift as seasonal as possible without tying it to any particular religion.  The Christmas tree has pagan origins, a snowflake is not specific to any religion, and the colors chosen were seasonal for winter as well.  It's not like we handed out tiny creches.

ETA:  I should also mention that we were solicited for contributions to these bags well before the winter break--so I did not see anything wrong in providing an additional small gift from DD.  And I did make sure she gifted everyone so that no one would feel left out.

I'm wondering i the note was addressed to your 6 year old daughter or to you.  If to your daughter, I would be very offended that an adult would send a rant like that to a child rather than addressing it with the parent.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: camlan on January 03, 2013, 01:37:31 PM
When I was in the third grade (8 years-old) my public school teacher was the wife of the local Rabbi.  Almost all of the kids in my class were Roman Catholic or members of mainstream Protestant Churches.

  Still, we learned a bit about Judaism.  In December we had a Christmas tree in the classroom but we also had a menorah.  We each received a dreidl and a little mesh bag of Hannukah gelt. We were treated to latkes with applesauce.  The few Jewish kids who already knew about this preferred sour cream.   We also were read stories and were given coloring pages about the Macabees.  The boys especially liked that.  After all,  for a guy kid, heroes are so much more fun than Santa. 

For Purim we made crowns in art class and ate hematashen while we marched around the classroom with noisemakers.  It was almost like Halloween half-way around the year!

This all happened around 1955 when the USA was supposed to be so hide-bound in religious matters.

In later years I asked my mother what other parents thought about this.  She told me that she never
heard a word against it and, indeed, Christian ladies really enjoyed getting the latke recipe.  It goes
 so well with the pork roast, you know.

There is a big difference between sharing fun and proselytizing.  A family may not share the religious
 beliefs of others but learning about them is always a good thing.  It brings people together while being rigid builds up barriers that don't need to be there.

My second grade teacher was Jewish, I think, and she did something very similar, back in the early 60s. We learned a bit about Jewish holidays and spun a dreidl and the like. There were one or two Jewish kids in our class. Honestly, back when I was that little, different religions didn't mean all that much to us kids. We knew other people celebrated other holidays than we did, but no one ever made any kind of a deal about it. Maybe it was growing up on military bases?

Later, while attending a Catholic high school, we spent sophomore year studying different religions--a quarter each on Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Eeep! on January 03, 2013, 01:42:41 PM
I must disagree that the parents who were offended were rude.  I belong to a non-Christian religion, and our religious leaders teach us that it is a sin to participate in religious holidays that are not ours.  Even the appearance of participation, such as the acceptance of gifts from those who celebrate Christmas, is considered sinful.  The snowflake ornament would not have even been allowed to come into our homes, also because snowflakes are considered Christmassy.  While the older children are of an age to understand the reasoning behind this, a six year old is not quite there.  Had that been my child, I would have much preferred that no present had been given at all, rather than having to take a pretty, shiny thing away.  While it is nice that your child wanted to give gifts to her classmates, perhaps it would have been nicer to only give gifts to the children who were actually permitted to have them.

That being said, I probably would have said nothing to the teacher, but it would certainly make me rethink any friendships with the children who put my (hypothetical) child in such a position.

While I know that everyone has a right to feel how they feel and there is no inherent rudeness in that feeling, how one responds to those feelings is where any rudeness begins.  So, while I think that if you have a belief system that is outside the general cultural norms of where you live, it is probably a good practice to try not to be offended quite so easily, if you respond in a polite manner, than you are not rude.  However, writing a mean letter to a six year old crosses the line into rudeness for me. An informative letter stating your family's beliefs? That would be fine. But a lecture in response to a kind (if ill-informed) gesture? Not OK. 

And to your final sentence - I respectfully submit that if that is indeed the case, you may find yourself rethinking a lot of friendships, as it is expecting quite a lot of a child to somehow intuit that your child is operating outside the generally accepted cultural norms of your area.  I had a friend in grade school who was a Jehovah's Witness.  As such, she didn't celebrate holidays, her birthday, etc.  I totally respected that.  But how did I KNOW that? I was told that.  I didn't just magically know it.

I personally think that getting through life is a lot easier if your default position is that people - particularly children - are coming from a good place, rather than a bad one. But that is just my philosophy.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: WillyNilly on January 03, 2013, 01:49:45 PM
In all this discussion I think its important to note there are two types of "Christmas". Some people don't like that, but its a reality that can't be denied.  There is the Christian religious holiday of Christmas which celebrates the story of Jesus' conception and birth and wise men and all that.  But there is also a secular, totally non-religious, social holiday, which for clarity I will spell X-mas.

The two overlap a lot, but they are different.  In this thread we've already head lots of examples of people celebrating X-mas, including the original issue, but also Muslim's giving gifts or Jewish or atheist folks celebrating generically.  OP and her family might celebrate Christmas, but the snowflake gift was carefully chosen to be an X-mas gift. American's as a nation observe X-mas - its a national holiday, mail isn't delivered, public schools and banks, etc are closed, public transportation takes on a different schedule, etc.  Plus companies have parties, employees and friends and neighbors exchange gifts and cookies and the like.  People and companies decorate, as often as not with generic things like snowflakes and snowmen, or sparkles, or candy. Many of the seasonal songs are actually X-mas songs not Christmas (Jingle bells for example).

There are many Christians who are offended by this secular co-opting of Christmas into X-mas.  The news covered "keep Christ in Christmas" issues and surely we have all encountered it on some level personally, whether it be a conversation or even just seeing a bumper sticker. The whole "Merry Christmas/X-mas" versus ""Happy Holidays" debate is tied into it.  But for better or worse, good or bad, this is what has happened, in a widespread, mainstream way in the US.  We have a totally secular, open to all, holiday that exactly overlaps with a major Christian holiday.

Its unfortunate the OP's daughter's friend's parents are taking such a negative and aggressive stance against X-mas, but it is what it is.  They are entitled to feel that way.  But I don't think they are doing themselves, or their child, any favors in the way they are taking this stance.

On the other hand, I think the OP is doing a great job in making sure her daughter understands that X-mas (or "winter break" and "snowflake decorations") is for everyone while Christmas is specific to certain people.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on January 03, 2013, 01:52:21 PM
I always have loved learning about different religions and different denominations as well, and enjoy when I find someone who is able to discuss their religion, denomination and traditions without trying to convert someone else.  I've learned a lot about the Jewish faith thanks to having a Jewish aunt and uncle.  (funny thing is my uncle is very unobservant, and my aunt that married him jokes that she knows more about traditions than he does, from learning about it from her sister in law)

My oldest is in 6th grade social studies and has been really enjoying learning about other cultures and their religions, such as Judaism and Hinduism, so far, so much so that his favorite subject has gone from math to social studies. :)

And to your final sentence - I respectfully submit that if that is indeed the case, you may find yourself rethinking a lot of friendships, as it is expecting quite a lot of a child to somehow intuit that your child is operating outside the generally accepted cultural norms of your area.  I had a friend in grade school who was a Jehovah's Witness.  As such, she didn't celebrate holidays, her birthday, etc.  I totally respected that.  But how did I KNOW that? I was told that.  I didn't just magically know it.

I personally think that getting through life is a lot easier if your default position is that people - particularly children - are coming from a good place, rather than a bad one. But that is just my philosophy.

Agree with this one. :) It's rather snowflakey to expect others to read your mind and know where you stand on issues without being told. 

I once gave a Christmas card to a guy I had a crush on in middle school, only to find out later he was Jewish and I was embarrassed, but grateful that all he did was smile and say "Thanks!" even if he might have pitched the card when I wasn't looking. 
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Moray on January 03, 2013, 01:53:20 PM
I think it's important to remember that just because something annoys or offends you (general you, of course), that does not automatically make it rude.

The OP was not rude in giving a secular, Winter-themed gift. Frankly, she wouldn't have been "rude" to give a Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Yule-themed gift, either. Whether that would be a "good idea" is another matter.

Etiquette tells us that an unwanted gift is to be accepted or refused graciously. The child's parents chose to get offended instead of using it as a teaching moment with their child or simply disposing of the present. Their decision to write a letter castigating the OP's child (and the OP, herself) is where the rudeness comes in.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: artk2002 on January 03, 2013, 01:54:45 PM
I personally think that getting through life is a lot easier if your default position is that people - particularly children - are coming from a good place, rather than a bad one. But that is just my philosophy.

Nope. Not just you. I found that as soon as I stopped parsing everyone else's tiniest actions or words looking for bad intent, I became a much happier person. Everyone around me suddenly got nicer, too. Amazing, that. I'm also a big fan of Hanlon's Razor (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanlon%27s_razor), although I tend to replace "stupidity" with "ignorance."

On topic: OP, you and your daughter did absolutely nothing wrong. You gave a gift that wasn't at all religious, at a time when many cultures and religions traditionally give gifts. Attributing a pro- or anti-religious message to your snowflake says a lot about that family and nothing about you.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Girlie on January 03, 2013, 02:00:39 PM
In my workplace of about 65 people, we have one person who is not either Protestant or Catholic. She does not celebrate any holidays, religious or otherwise, and before I knew that, I made up bags of Christmas candy to give to everyone.
She very politely pulled me aside and explained that while she appreciated the gift, she doesn't celebrate the holiday and could not accept it. I told her I was very sorry that I hadn't know of her restriction, and asked if she would be able to accept it as a gift of friendship instead. She did, and later complimented me on the candy she'd eaten.
I would not have been offended if she'd refused the candy altogether, although I am glad that she didn't.

I say all of this to say that there is a polite way to alert people to the fact that you cannot accept holiday gifts. Children who belong to families that discourage gifts for whatever reason should be taught to politely refrain from accepting gifts. Sending a disparaging letter to a first grader is impolite no matter how you look at it.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: LeveeWoman on January 03, 2013, 02:01:24 PM
I think if you wanted to write a note, you could say this:

"Dear other parents:
"I'm so sorry that my daughter's winter-break present was offensive to your family, and that it contributed to a difficult parenting situation for you. She had hoped to express her affection to her friends, and we thought perhaps kids could hang the sparkly snowflake in their windows to catch the winter sunshine and remind them of how much fun snow is.
    "Please return the snowflake as soon as you can, and accept our apologies for unwittingly including your child in our gift giving."

FTW!
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: audrey11 on January 03, 2013, 02:04:03 PM
Wow.  I really didn't mean to give the impression that we expect others to be mind readers.  Generally, the school and the teachers are informed and the child is also taught to say "thank you, but I really can't accept this".  Doesn't always stop people from pushing presents on the kids (sticking them in backpacks, etc).  Also, the parents seem to think it's cute to teach their children to tell our children, "you'll be ruining my Christmas if you don't accept this", so yeah, the manipulation definitely requires a cooling of the friendship.  Your mileage obviously varies.

Also, to clarify, I never meant to imply that the letter was not rude, but it seemed like several people seem to think that just being hurt/offended is rude and that is what I was trying to weigh in on.  The letter was rude.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: poundcake on January 03, 2013, 02:54:11 PM
I like Toots's note, also.

I think it's important to remember that just because something annoys or offends you (general you, of course), that does not automatically make it rude.

The OP was not rude in giving a secular, Winter-themed gift. Frankly, she wouldn't have been "rude" to give a Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Yule-themed gift, either. Whether that would be a "good idea" is another matter.

Etiquette tells us that an unwanted gift is to be accepted or refused graciously. The child's parents chose to get offended instead of using it as a teaching moment with their child or simply disposing of the present. Their decision to write a letter castigating the OP's child (and the OP, herself) is where the rudeness comes in.

Yes. Although within the bounds of public school, giving a religious gift is a problem, but again, that was so very clearly not the case in this situation.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: magician5 on January 03, 2013, 03:52:27 PM
You gave them a Christmas ornament.  While it may not have screamed "Christmas" it did whisper it very loudly.  Offending someone's religious beliefs is not silly and they're entitled to those feelings.  At this point I would let it go and not give Christmas presents to the class next year.

What you say is true, but the real issue is the inappropriate response by the offended parents. Seriously inappropriate. The basic principle of this conflict is exactly why it's inappropriate to mix religion into public school (I know some people disagree, but that's another argument).

The parents have a right to any religious beliefs they choose, but they do not have a right to be shielded from the consequences of their choice, nor do they have a right to expect no consequences when they react so very badly to an occurrence that's bound to happen when living in a diverse society with their chosen beliefs. If they need to be among only their co-religionists, let them find a safe haven and avoid this sort of "offense". Some other faiths have formed insular communities, so clearly it can be done ... can't have it both ways.

Moreover, as much as they have a right to take offense, the rest of the community has a right to draw their own conclusions from their behavior and their beliefs ... including "gosh darn, they're weird" ... including "so this is the sort of thing their religion teaches". I hope they don't decide to go shopping and hide their kid's eyes when they pass near a Salvation Army bell-ringer - can't imagine how they handle the kid's reaction to being dragged away from a store Santa Claus. I certainly hope they don't decide to berate those guys, too.

That is so sad. I hope your DD didn't get bruised by the whole thing.

Sad to see her bruised, but she'll be stronger for it.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: snowdragon on January 03, 2013, 04:51:39 PM
You gave them a Christmas ornament.  While it may not have screamed "Christmas" it did whisper it very loudly.  Offending someone's religious beliefs is not silly and they're entitled to those feelings.  At this point I would let it go and not give Christmas presents to the class next year.

Actually she gave the kids an acrylic ornament. A snowflake. It's  only Christmas-y if one deems it a Christmas ornament - I have snowflakes up year around, a friend of mine had her entire kitchen counter backsplash tiled in snowflakes.  There are ornaments for everything these days - including for everyday use/ And the note said  "Have a wonderful winter break.  See you in 2013!  Your friend, DD"  nothing about Christmas at all. The only reason it took on that meaning was that the other child's parents deemed it so. 
  Their offense is their own - not something that a loving child did to them, they CHOSE the most offensive ( to them) interpretation they could and took it out an innocent kid.
  She should not have to stop giving gifts because someone wants to twist kindness into offense - if the parent does not want this one kid receiving well that's sad but the rest of the children, including the OP's child should not have to be held to this family's standards.

OP, are these folks JW? If so they do have things like "I love you days" as I recall and while hearts and valentines may not be allowed - expressions of love and caring certainly are. When I taught kindergarten we had one wonderful family who was JW and when it came time for Valentine's Day I vetted the project with Timmy's mom, she ok'ed him making the cut out of the ASL sign for "I love you" but not the heart. Maybe you could do something that could be a friendship gift rather than Valentines ( or St Patricks's or....) for this kid.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: mj on January 03, 2013, 05:01:45 PM
I am confused, I read the original post as that the teacher sent a note home -- not that the parents sent a note to the OPs daughter. 

OP, can you clarify? 

If my take is true, then I'm not sure where the parents offense is at.  They certainly do have the right to voice a complaint to the school.  The school should handle as they deem fit,  instead of singling out students, it could have been handled in a different way.  Especially now that they do have the information that a student with a different religion is part of the class, the school has everything they need to know without including an audience.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: artk2002 on January 03, 2013, 05:04:48 PM
I am confused, I read the original post as that the teacher sent a note home -- not that the parents sent a note to the OPs daughter. 

The parents of the other child sent the note, which was given to OP's daughter by the teacher. The teacher was the post-person in this case.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: TootsNYC on January 03, 2013, 05:05:30 PM
and the teacher, like the OP, probably thought it was a thank-you note!
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Rusty on January 03, 2013, 05:15:28 PM
I have friends of many different religious persuasions and it would not occur to me that they would be offended that I celebrate Christmas just as I am not offended by their celebrations. Unfortunately the world has changed and the politically correct now seem to rule the world.  My town (a major city) this year decided it had had enough of the wowsers of the world and decorated the city square beautifully and played christmas carols etc, after a few years of not wanting to "offend". My grandchild's pre-school had a Xmas party after a few years of "no we can't offend anyone".  If you don't like Christmas or don't celebrate it, fine, but don't spoil it for the rest of us, keep your children home. Perhaps if everyone thought about the message of goodwill to all men society might just benefit rather than dragging everyone into some whitewashed melting pot where noone is allowed to celebrate anything at all.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: MOM21SON on January 03, 2013, 05:36:24 PM
When my son was in private school, they did only celebrate the schools beliefs.  However when he went to public school, their "Holiday program" celebrated all holiday beliefs in song.  The sound of 6 years olds singing ANY song is priceless.

If this is in ANY WAY INAPPROPRIATE please let me know anyone.

The Sandy Hook children went back to school today.  Yes, they went to a different school but the school was supposed to have snowflakes everywhere, sent from all over the country.

To me a snowflake is just that.  A decoration.  I do not associate a snowflake with any holiday, just winter.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: ------ on January 03, 2013, 05:38:07 PM
I have friends of many different religious persuasions and it would not occur to me that they would be offended that I celebrate Christmas just as I am not offended by their celebrations. Unfortunately the world has changed and the politically correct now seem to rule the world.  My town (a major city) this year decided it had had enough of the wowsers of the world and decorated the city square beautifully and played christmas carols etc, after a few years of not wanting to "offend". My grandchild's pre-school had a Xmas party after a few years of "no we can't offend anyone".  If you don't like Christmas or don't celebrate it, fine, but don't spoil it for the rest of us, keep your children home. Perhaps if everyone thought about the message of goodwill to all men society might just benefit rather than dragging everyone into some whitwashed melting pot where noone is allowed to celebrate anything at all.



I so agree with Rusty. Can't POD this enough.

It's so tiring to constantly second-guess everything and wonder if you're causing offense simply by wishing someone well.

I always thought diversity was supposed to be about celebrating different cultures, not suppressing them. What a boring world if we have to pretend we're all the same.

Like some of the other PP's, as a kid we had Christmas parties, valentine's day cards/candy trading (we made envelopes out of construction paper and taped them to our desks and then went around the class delivering valentines treats in all the other envelopes. It was such fun!) and we learned about the holiday traditions of other cultures and non-Christmas celebrating religions.

It's so sad to me that a gesture of kindness, generosity, goodwill and innocent affection could be turned into something ugly. How are we supposed to achieve peaceful co-existence in our society if we either have to pretend we're all the same, or allow our differences to blow up into open hostility because we didn't make the correct guess?

Maybe the answer is to just throw away all religious/cultural traditions and just celebrate Festivus. It sounds like the offended parents of the child who received the snowflake got an early start on the Enumeration of Grievances portion of the tradition. 
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: SeptGurl on January 03, 2013, 05:39:36 PM
I always have loved learning about different religions and different denominations as well, and enjoy when I find someone who is able to discuss their religion, denomination and traditions without trying to convert someone else.  I've learned a lot about the Jewish faith thanks to having a Jewish aunt and uncle.  (funny thing is my uncle is very unobservant, and my aunt that married him jokes that she knows more about traditions than he does, from learning about it from her sister in law)

My oldest is in 6th grade social studies and has been really enjoying learning about other cultures and their religions, such as Judaism and Hinduism, so far, so much so that his favorite subject has gone from math to social studies. :)

... snip ...

I was thinking the same thing about my 6th grader. They are just finishing a unit on world religions. They studied Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity. My DS thought it was fascinating. We had some great dinner table talks about similarities and differences between religions. What a wonderful learning opportunity that broadens kids' horizons and allows for inclusion rather than exclusion. We also were able to talk with DS about the importance of being respectful of others' beliefs and values regardless of whether we share their beliefs and values.

P.S. A college friend and her DH are Wiccan and yet Santa visited their home to leave gifts for their 6-year-old DS. From their FB posts, they clearly had a lot of fun playing Santa for him!
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Otterpop on January 03, 2013, 06:30:15 PM
Not to mention this was a SNOWFLAKE.  They fall from the sky by the millions every day.  How the parents could say this was a "commercialization" of Christmas is beyond me.  They are a symbol of the one thing about Christmas that's FREE, for Pete's sake!
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Mental Magpie on January 03, 2013, 06:36:35 PM
A snowflake with a string through it is not obviously a Christmas decoration, it is simply a snowflake decoration.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: MOM21SON on January 03, 2013, 06:55:47 PM
I always have loved learning about different religions and different denominations as well, and enjoy when I find someone who is able to discuss their religion, denomination and traditions without trying to convert someone else.  I've learned a lot about the Jewish faith thanks to having a Jewish aunt and uncle.  (funny thing is my uncle is very unobservant, and my aunt that married him jokes that she knows more about traditions than he does, from learning about it from her sister in law)

My oldest is in 6th grade social studies and has been really enjoying learning about other cultures and their religions, such as Judaism and Hinduism, so far, so much so that his favorite subject has gone from math to social studies. :)

... snip ...

I was thinking the same thing about my 6th grader. They are just finishing a unit on world religions. They studied Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity. My DS thought it was fascinating. We had some great dinner table talks about similarities and differences between religions. What a wonderful learning opportunity that broadens kids' horizons and allows for inclusion rather than exclusion. We also were able to talk with DS about the importance of being respectful of others' beliefs and values regardless of whether we share their beliefs and values.

P.S. A college friend and her DH are Wiccan and yet Santa visited their home to leave gifts for their 6-year-old DS. From their FB posts, they clearly had a lot of fun playing Santa for him!

This is what i don't understand.  I am seriously confused by this, something that has been going on for many years.  Either you do Santa, or you don't.  You either celebrate it or not.  Or is it celebrated when it is convenient? 

My Hindu neighbors have started celebrating because "That is what their kids want."  HUH?
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Yvaine on January 03, 2013, 07:04:26 PM
I always have loved learning about different religions and different denominations as well, and enjoy when I find someone who is able to discuss their religion, denomination and traditions without trying to convert someone else.  I've learned a lot about the Jewish faith thanks to having a Jewish aunt and uncle.  (funny thing is my uncle is very unobservant, and my aunt that married him jokes that she knows more about traditions than he does, from learning about it from her sister in law)

My oldest is in 6th grade social studies and has been really enjoying learning about other cultures and their religions, such as Judaism and Hinduism, so far, so much so that his favorite subject has gone from math to social studies. :)

... snip ...

I was thinking the same thing about my 6th grader. They are just finishing a unit on world religions. They studied Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity. My DS thought it was fascinating. We had some great dinner table talks about similarities and differences between religions. What a wonderful learning opportunity that broadens kids' horizons and allows for inclusion rather than exclusion. We also were able to talk with DS about the importance of being respectful of others' beliefs and values regardless of whether we share their beliefs and values.

P.S. A college friend and her DH are Wiccan and yet Santa visited their home to leave gifts for their 6-year-old DS. From their FB posts, they clearly had a lot of fun playing Santa for him!

This is what i don't understand.  I am seriously confused by this, something that has been going on for many years.  Either you do Santa, or you don't.  You either celebrate it or not.  Or is it celebrated when it is convenient? 

My Hindu neighbors have started celebrating because "That is what their kids want."  HUH?

What do you mean?

They are Wiccan but have decided to do the Santa tradition for their kids because they think it's fun. Santa has some roots in St. Nicholas, a Christian figure, but also some roots in pagan myths like the Wild Hunt, and at this point is largely a secular figure anyway, defined by things like Coca-Cola advertising and popular TV specials. I don't really see what's confusing. They're doing Santa just the same way as anyone else does Santa.

I'm pagan myself and have always been tempted to do the La Befana tradition for my hypothetical kids instead.  :)

It's quite possible to celebrate a multitude of traditions in order to share them with loved ones. I'm pagan and celebrated the Solstice with my SO. And then celebrated Christmas with my family of origin--I may not be a part of that religion, but I can celebrate the family aspect and the "X-mas" thing WillyNilly talks about and the way themes of birth and renewal and light fit into my own beliefs in sort of an archetypal sense. One year I went to a Diwali celebration--you can say I "celebrated" Diwali that year, even though I don't practice Hinduism. I went to bond with some friends and had some of the best food I've ever eaten in my life. There's no religion police and no rule against enjoying a holiday even if you love it because you love the people celebrating it around you rather than because you practice that religion.

I'm not going to just turn my nose up at my beloved family's gathering just because I'm a different religion now and declare "Nope, only Yule now, tough luck!" They're not even all that devout and it's not that religious of a gathering. It's more about spending time with each other.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: bonyk on January 03, 2013, 07:12:09 PM
The rule in my school district is that if you celebrate one holiday, you must celebrate all holidays.  So in December, we do a little Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanza, although I have yet to have a student that actually celebrates Kwanza.  I've never had an issue with any of the 'holiday' gifts I've given students, most of which have been snowflake-themed.  Interestingly, this year I noticed that I got quite a few Christmas gifts and greetings from my Muslim students.

IMO, this is the other parent's fault.  I have had quite a few parents inform me that they do not want their child celebrating Halloween.  Luckily, they have always notified me in advance, so I am able to make sure that their children are not exposed to anything they find offensive.  If a parent complained after the fact, I would politely let them know that they should have let me know ahead of time.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Cyradis on January 03, 2013, 07:13:57 PM
I always have loved learning about different religions and different denominations as well, and enjoy when I find someone who is able to discuss their religion, denomination and traditions without trying to convert someone else.  I've learned a lot about the Jewish faith thanks to having a Jewish aunt and uncle.  (funny thing is my uncle is very unobservant, and my aunt that married him jokes that she knows more about traditions than he does, from learning about it from her sister in law)

My oldest is in 6th grade social studies and has been really enjoying learning about other cultures and their religions, such as Judaism and Hinduism, so far, so much so that his favorite subject has gone from math to social studies. :)

... snip ...

I was thinking the same thing about my 6th grader. They are just finishing a unit on world religions. They studied Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity. My DS thought it was fascinating. We had some great dinner table talks about similarities and differences between religions. What a wonderful learning opportunity that broadens kids' horizons and allows for inclusion rather than exclusion. We also were able to talk with DS about the importance of being respectful of others' beliefs and values regardless of whether we share their beliefs and values.

P.S. A college friend and her DH are Wiccan and yet Santa visited their home to leave gifts for their 6-year-old DS. From their FB posts, they clearly had a lot of fun playing Santa for him!

This is what i don't understand.  I am seriously confused by this, something that has been going on for many years.  Either you do Santa, or you don't.  You either celebrate it or not.  Or is it celebrated when it is convenient? 

My Hindu neighbors have started celebrating because "That is what their kids want."  HUH?

Lots of Hindus and Muslims in my country celebrate the secular aspects of Christmas. They see it as a time for family togetherness. We always had Christmas class parties but we had special programmes and sweets for Divali and Eid as well.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: MOM21SON on January 03, 2013, 07:17:28 PM
I always have loved learning about different religions and different denominations as well, and enjoy when I find someone who is able to discuss their religion, denomination and traditions without trying to convert someone else.  I've learned a lot about the Jewish faith thanks to having a Jewish aunt and uncle.  (funny thing is my uncle is very unobservant, and my aunt that married him jokes that she knows more about traditions than he does, from learning about it from her sister in law)

My oldest is in 6th grade social studies and has been really enjoying learning about other cultures and their religions, such as Judaism and Hinduism, so far, so much so that his favorite subject has gone from math to social studies. :)

... snip ...

I was thinking the same thing about my 6th grader. They are just finishing a unit on world religions. They studied Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity. My DS thought it was fascinating. We had some great dinner table talks about similarities and differences between religions. What a wonderful learning opportunity that broadens kids' horizons and allows for inclusion rather than exclusion. We also were able to talk with DS about the importance of being respectful of others' beliefs and values regardless of whether we share their beliefs and values.

P.S. A college friend and her DH are Wiccan and yet Santa visited their home to leave gifts for their 6-year-old DS. From their FB posts, they clearly had a lot of fun playing Santa for him!

This is what i don't understand.  I am seriously confused by this, something that has been going on for many years.  Either you do Santa, or you don't.  You either celebrate it or not.  Or is it celebrated when it is convenient? 

My Hindu neighbors have started celebrating because "That is what their kids want."  HUH?

What do you mean?

They are Wiccan but have decided to do the Santa tradition for their kids because they think it's fun. Santa has some roots in St. Nicholas, a Christian figure, but also some roots in pagan myths like the Wild Hunt, and at this point is largely a secular figure anyway, defined by things like Coca-Cola advertising and popular TV specials. I don't really see what's confusing. They're doing Santa just the same way as anyone else does Santa.

I'm pagan myself and have always been tempted to do the La Befana tradition for my hypothetical kids instead.  :)

It's quite possible to celebrate a multitude of traditions in order to share them with loved ones. I'm pagan and celebrated the Solstice with my SO. And then celebrated Christmas with my family of origin--I may not be a part of that religion, but I can celebrate the family aspect and the "X-mas" thing WillyNilly talks about and the way themes of birth and renewal and light fit into my own beliefs in sort of an archetypal sense. One year I went to a Diwali celebration--you can say I "celebrated" Diwali that year, even though I don't practice Hinduism. I went to bond with some friends and had some of the best food I've ever eaten in my life. There's no religion police and no rule against enjoying a holiday even if you love it because you love the people celebrating it around you rather than because you practice that religion.

I'm not going to just turn my nose up at my beloved family's gathering just because I'm a different religion now and declare "Nope, only Yule now, tough luck!" They're not even all that devout and it's not that religious of a gathering. It's more about spending time with each other.

That is pretty much exactly what I mean!  You provided a explanation!  That is what I wanted. 
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Garden Goblin on January 03, 2013, 08:00:40 PM
If you don't like Christmas or don't celebrate it, fine, but don't spoil it for the rest of us, keep your children home. Perhaps if everyone thought about the message of goodwill to all men society might just benefit rather than dragging everyone into some whitewashed melting pot where noone is allowed to celebrate anything at all.

Don't go there.  Please.

Celebrate whatever you wish, but pressuring others to celebrate your way is inappropriate, especially when done by government/authority entities such as schools.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: ladyknight1 on January 03, 2013, 08:10:28 PM
Please don't get this thread locked. This is not the place for political discussions.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Garden Goblin on January 03, 2013, 08:12:09 PM
Please don't get this thread locked. This is not the place for political discussions.

The suggestion that I keep my child home from school if I do not want him to have to participate in a religious celebration was inappropriate, as was the implication that I feel that way because I need a message of goodwill in my life.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Corvid on January 03, 2013, 08:21:23 PM
That their child was "traumatized" by having to give up his/her "present."  How rude we were to put them in that position.

Too darned bad for them.  That is known as REARING YOUR CHILD.  If one is rearing one's child with non-mainstream beliefs or attitudes, one will almost certainly sometimes need to deal with issues just like these and would do well to use them as teaching opportunities instead of getting annoyed that everyone else in the world is not revolving around you.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: MamaMootz on January 03, 2013, 08:30:32 PM
You know, my DD's best friend is of a religion that doesn't celebrate any holidays, including birthdays. I have to say that her family and her parents are the epitome of graciousness when it comes to other people celebrating. They understand that the world doesn't revolve around what they believe, and they quietly teach their children differently. I think that if their child ever got a gift like this and the parents didn't believe in giving the child the gift, they would quietly dispose of it and explain it to the child.

I wish that more people were like that. Believe whatever you like, but the people in the OP took offense where it wasn't intended at all - in fact, quite the opposite - the message the OP's DD was sending was that no matter WHAT the other kids' families celebrated, she wanted to give a gift to let people know she was thinking of them.

Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: ladyknight1 on January 03, 2013, 08:54:25 PM
I work with someone whose very strict religion prohibits celebrating anything but weddings and anniversaries. She is much like the parent in question and takes offense at any mention of a birthday or holiday being celebrated. She does always come to the holiday parties and 4th of July barbecue, but makes her beliefs known to all present.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: White Lotus on January 03, 2013, 09:01:41 PM
Is violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment polite?  Is forcing me to send my children to private schools because of the "under God" portion of the Pedge of Allegiance inserted by anti-Communist types in the 1950's polite?  Is forcing me to take my child out of the public school I pay for, for a day or a week, so your children can celebrate their religious holiday at the community public school polite?  I think not.  Celebrate whatever you want, but don't FORCE my family into it by making it a "community" and "public" celebration, supported by my tax dollars, with, in the case of children and schools, MANDATORY participation in a religious festival not of our faith.
Are the parents who sent home that hate-filled note about a kind and not religious gift from a child to her classmates rude?  Absolutely.  And nuts, too. We would have said "thank you," and because it was not offensive, not against our religion, and a very nice thing to do, and hung it on a house plant.  If it was specifically religious and not ours, we would still have said "thank you" and donated it.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Maggie on January 03, 2013, 09:04:11 PM
Please please don't make this about religion or this thread will be locked.  The moderators are very serious about this.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: WillyNilly on January 03, 2013, 09:09:18 PM
Please don't get this thread locked. This is not the place for political discussions.

The suggestion that I keep my child home from school if I do not want him to have to participate in a religious celebration was inappropriate, as was the implication that I feel that way because I need a message of goodwill in my life.
Is violating the establishment clause of the First Amendment polite?  Is forcing me to send my children to private schools because of the "under God" portion of the Pedge of Allegiance inserted by anti-Communist types in the 1950's polite?  Is forcing me to take my child out of the public school I pay for, for a day or a week, so your children can celebrate their religious holiday at the community public school polite?  I think not.  Celebrate whatever you want, but don't FORCE my family into it by making it a "community" and "public" celebration, supported by my tax dollars, with, in the case of children and schools, MANDATORY participation in a religious festival not of our faith.
Are the parents who sent home that hate-filled note about a kind and not religious gift from a child to her classmates rude?  Absolutely.  And nuts, too. We would have said "thank you," and because it was not offensive, not against our religion, and a very nice thing to do, and hung it on a house plant.  If it was specifically religious and not ours, we would still have said "thank you" and donated it.

I am not a Christian.  I was not raised in a Christian home. 

And yet I have celebrated "x-mas" (as I mentioned and clarified earlier in this thread) every December of my life.  For me, and my family, and my atheist DH, it is in no way shape or form a "religious" holiday.  I totally respect it is for many people.  But it is also a secular holiday that focuses on decorations, gifts, parties and food & drink, and good will towards others and peace on earth. I went to public school for 13 years (kindergarten through 12th grade) Christmas was always either totally balanced with other religious holidays as a way to learn about various cultures and history or totally secular. I never felt Christmas was forced on us as a Christian thing.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: ------ on January 03, 2013, 09:11:45 PM
I think we all agree that the polite thing to do would have been for the parents of the child receiving the gift to just accept it gracefully and then use or dispose of it as they please, and then to leave it at that.

Any response other than accepting the gift or a polite thank you is rude and inappropriate. What I think would be really nice, though, is if everyone is free to celebrate whatever traditions they choose (or not) as they see fit. And accept kind gestures in the spirit in which they are expressed, and then move on with life.  :)
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Garden Goblin on January 03, 2013, 09:21:36 PM
And yet I have celebrated "x-mas" (as I mentioned and clarified earlier in this thread) every December of my life.  For me, and my family, and my atheist DH, it is in no way shape or form a "religious" holiday.  I totally respect it is for many people.  But it is also a secular holiday that focuses on decorations, gifts, parties and food & drink, and good will towards others and peace on earth. I went to public school for 13 years (kindergarten through 12th grade) Christmas was always either totally balanced with other religious holidays as a way to learn about various cultures and history or totally secular. I never felt Christmas was forced on us as a Christian thing.

Having a winter party with some decorations and gift giving was not what I was responding to.  Neither was teaching 'some folks celebrate these holidays, let's learn a few things about them'.  Please view my original post where I quoted exactly what I was responding to.

What I think would be really nice, though, is if everyone is free to celebrate whatever traditions they choose (or not) as they see fit. And accept kind gestures in the spirit in which they are expressed, and then move on with life.  :)

This.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: WillyNilly on January 03, 2013, 09:26:41 PM
And yet I have celebrated "x-mas" (as I mentioned and clarified earlier in this thread) every December of my life.  For me, and my family, and my atheist DH, it is in no way shape or form a "religious" holiday.  I totally respect it is for many people.  But it is also a secular holiday that focuses on decorations, gifts, parties and food & drink, and good will towards others and peace on earth. I went to public school for 13 years (kindergarten through 12th grade) Christmas was always either totally balanced with other religious holidays as a way to learn about various cultures and history or totally secular. I never felt Christmas was forced on us as a Christian thing.

Having a winter party with some decorations and gift giving was not what I was responding to.  Neither was teaching 'some folks celebrate these holidays, let's learn a few things about them'.  Please view my original post where I quoted exactly what I was responding to.

I did (Rusty's post).  I just read that "Christmas" reference as being a secular, public school type celebration, not a religious observance. Especially because the OP of this thread is about a family objecting to the ornament/gift not being religious but rather in line with the secular seasonal celebration.

Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Garden Goblin on January 03, 2013, 09:32:05 PM
I did (Rusty's post).  I just read that "Christmas" reference as being a secular, public school type celebration, not a religious observance. Especially because the OP of this thread is about a family objecting to the ornament/gift not being religious but rather in line with the secular seasonal celebration.

I suppose I'm just a 'politically correct wowser'.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Roe on January 03, 2013, 09:44:24 PM
I think if you wanted to write a note, you could say this:

"Dear other parents:
"I'm so sorry that my daughter's winter-break present was offensive to your family, and that it contributed to a difficult parenting situation for you. She had hoped to express her affection to her friends, and we thought perhaps kids could hang the sparkly snowflake in their windows to catch the winter sunshine and remind them of how much fun snow is.
    "Please return the snowflake as soon as you can, and accept our apologies for unwittingly including your child in our gift giving."

Yep, this is exactly what I'd send back.  Seriously.  ::)

Some people will be offended no matter what and you really can't help them. 
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: CrochetFanatic on January 03, 2013, 09:47:47 PM
When you think about it, the offended parents not only chose to be offended, but chose to "traumatize" their child by taking away the snowflake.  Chose to.  And I won't say they were right or wrong to do so; their child, their business.  I don't think that aspect of it is on the OP, and I wonder how anyone could just be expected to know that the gift would be offensive to this one child's parents.

This is a loaded issue, and after reading through all of these posts my own opinion on the matter isn't set.  I think that, for the parents, it's a case of "It's not what you do; it's how you do it."  They weren't wrong to express that they were offended, but I think someone else who posted came up with a much nicer way they could have said it.  People react better to "In the future, please don't" than to "How dare you".

I remember that my second grade teacher was also Jewish, and I didn't know this until our classroom party (which we still had back when I was in school; I don't know how things are done now).  I wished her a Merry Christmas, and she smiled and said, "Thank you, but I'm Jewish.  I celebrate Chanukah."  And she went on to tell the class a bit about Chanukah.  Two of my classmates, I found out, were also Jewish, and they chimed in with their family experiences, sort of like show-and-tell.  It was a lot of fun to learn about what people do differently!
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: kareng57 on January 03, 2013, 10:01:59 PM
The rule in my school district is that if you celebrate one holiday, you must celebrate all holidays.  So in December, we do a little Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanza, although I have yet to have a student that actually celebrates Kwanza.  I've never had an issue with any of the 'holiday' gifts I've given students, most of which have been snowflake-themed.  Interestingly, this year I noticed that I got quite a few Christmas gifts and greetings from my Muslim students.

IMO, this is the other parent's fault.  I have had quite a few parents inform me that they do not want their child celebrating Halloween.  Luckily, they have always notified me in advance, so I am able to make sure that their children are not exposed to anything they find offensive.  If a parent complained after the fact, I would politely let them know that they should have let me know ahead of time.


Honestly, I'd have been completely in favour if my kids' school had opted to stop celebrating Halloween.  It was getting utterly ridiculous - the whole day was devoted to it.  Okay, I could have been okay with it if it'd been a simple assembly/costume parade for about two hours.  But no, the rest of the day was devoted to pumpkin carving/games/goodies etc.  (I'm Christian but not in a denomination that prohibits Halloween).  And never mind that some kids (definitely not mine) were insistent that they couldn't possibly wear the same costume at school as they would be for T&Ting that night........

And really, I would also be in favour of not observing religious holidays at all in public schools.  Like it or not, many people do see Christmas as being a religious holiday as opposed to a secular holiday.  Christians who feel strongly about celebrating Christmas have lots of other opportunities to do so.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: sevenday on January 03, 2013, 10:08:09 PM
I do agree that a snowflake is not a religious item.  I do not celebrate the religious aspects of holidays, but I do engage in the secular ones.  I give and get gifts, cards, et cetera.  I even have my car decorated in snowflakes - not for Christmas, but for winter!  Just because it has a string that enables it to be hung does not mean it must be a Christmas ornament to hang on a tree. Hang it from a suction cup and put it on your bedroom window, bathroom mirror, etc.  Hang it from a nail like you would a painting.  It's an "ornament" only in that it is a decoration, an adornment (that's where the "orn" comes from in ornament I guess).  The accompanying note was not offensive in the least.   The only way I can think of that it could be interpreted as a Christmas gift was the timing of when it was handed out, and that relies on assumptions by the parents, which they've demonstrated in their little missive to the OP.

Regarding gifts in the classroom, I do generally think they should not have religious connotations in the gift ITEM itself, but the occasion may very well have something to do with it.  Christmas, Hanukkah, et cetera.  My local school permits gift exchanges and birthday invites, but they do say that you must either give to ALL the kids in the class, or give them outside of the classroom (i.e. at the end of the day when you're outside getting on the bus to go home, or away from school entirely) to avoid favoritism/bullying situations.  Funnily enough, during Christmas, we generally made decorations for the classroom and just had a party day - bringing in cupcakes, cookies, etc - rather than exchanging presents.  Those who were meant to get presents got them outside of school anyway.  (Best friends and so on)  Same for Valentine's Day.  Other holidays, like Easter, Hanukkah, and so forth were acknowledged with some in-class activities rather than presents. I remember one year when all events were food oriented.  Latkes for Hanukkah for example.  We researched recipes and the history of those foods and things like that. 

Those parents need to learn that they are not going to shelter their child forever.  As parents they can certainly say "we don't give/get gifts unless they are religious-themed" but they need to take ownership of their actions too, rather than blaming someone who does not know these personal rules they've established for their family.  In the future, OP, I would check with the school to see what the policy is.  If the policy is "universal or none" then continue to give nonspecific items to your child's class, including this child, as long as your child wishes to do so.  There's no reason she should be denied the pleasure of giving to people she likes just because ONE child's parents object.  If there is no universal policy, then you might sit down with your daughter and explain that you've discovered that the child's parents don't want to get gifts during common holidays because of their religious beliefs.  Then quietly instruct your daughter to not give this child a gift, but to instead personally interact with them.  Go over and give them a hug if they are that friendly, talk about how you hope they'll have a great day, things like that.  This way the child might not feel quite so left out.  (If the child says 'but you didn't give me anything and gave them things,' your daughter might say, 'your parents told mine that it wasn't appropriate to give you anything.  Did we misunderstand?') I forget how old these kids are... eventually that kid will grow up and adopt his own policy regarding that.  If he wants to adhere to the example his parents set, great!

Regarding religious holidays... Many now have secular aspects as well as religious ones.  Is it right to universally ban all holidays because they MIGHT be religious?  That's not really something we can discuss on this forum, but it's something to consider.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: gollymolly2 on January 03, 2013, 10:09:15 PM
I think it's ideal to receive any religious or holiday-you-don't-celebrate gift in the spirit in which it is almost always intended: here is something that I/my family enjoys, so I hope you/your family enjoy it at well. So when I give gifts, I give them with that attitude, and when I receive gifts I receive them with that attitude.


A party (or other sponsored event) put on by a governmental entity is a totally different thing, etiquettely and legally from a gesture between two individuals and really has no bearing on this thread.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: onikenbai on January 03, 2013, 10:24:43 PM
My brother received a present this year wrapped in paper from ThinkGeek.  It says "Have a Satisfactory Non-Denominational Capitalist Wintertime Gift-giving Season".  Sounds like we should all be ordering this paper in bulk.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: CrochetFanatic on January 03, 2013, 10:27:22 PM
My brother received a present this year wrapped in paper from ThinkGeek.  It says "Have a Satisfactory Non-Denominational Capitalist Wintertime Gift-giving Season".  Sounds like we should all be ordering this paper in bulk.

That's hilarious.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Venus193 on January 03, 2013, 10:37:48 PM
My brother received a present this year wrapped in paper from ThinkGeek.  It says "Have a Satisfactory Non-Denominational Capitalist Wintertime Gift-giving Season".  Sounds like we should all be ordering this paper in bulk.

That's hilarious.

I agree!  I need a good laugh after reading this thread.

I also agree that these parents were looking for something to be offended at.  They need to realize that they don't rule the world... or even the classroom.

Like Thipiu I had elementary school teachers who understood that their pupils were of different faiths and cultures.  One December the homework assignment was for us to get our parents to tell us the Christmas traditions of their countries and how to say "Merry Christmas" in their native languages.  The Jewish kids did the same for Chanukah.  We had no problems.

This is just nuts.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Moray on January 04, 2013, 01:20:55 AM
I did (Rusty's post).  I just read that "Christmas" reference as being a secular, public school type celebration, not a religious observance. Especially because the OP of this thread is about a family objecting to the ornament/gift not being religious but rather in line with the secular seasonal celebration.

I suppose I'm just a 'politically correct wowser'.

I'm not sure what you mean by that. I don't believe WillyNilly accused you of any such thing. All she said is that a pre-Winter Break party involving Santa or candycanes or snowflakes isn't anything but secular for a lot of people.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: cass2591 on January 04, 2013, 01:52:40 AM
White Lotus, your rants are neither appreciated nor appropriate for this forum.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: scotcat60 on January 04, 2013, 05:22:03 AM
Whats next?  Jews can't wear ar Star o David necklace nor Christians crosses because someone might see it and be offended? 

This has actually happened in the UK. when an airline worker was told she should not wear her cross where it could be seen.

As for the rest, there are ways and ways of refusing a gift. A politely worded note sayng, thank you for the thought, but we do not celebrate Christmas in this way,  so please don't send us anything after this. Did DD know about her friend's religions attitude to gift giving. It sounds as if neither she nor the friend did, or the gift would not have been given. If the child was "traumatised" by the confiscation of the gift, whose fault was that?
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: RingTailedLemur on January 04, 2013, 05:27:30 AM
Whats next?  Jews can't wear ar Star o David necklace nor Christians crosses because someone might see it and be offended? 

This has actually happened in the UK. when an airline worker was told she should not wear her cross where it could be seen.


Sorry, no.  That is not what the issue was.  The issue was that the BA uniform policy prohibited any necklaces being worn over the top of the uniform.

Please let's not include misinformation or allegations of discrimination to muddy the issue.

This is simply a question of someone receiving a gift that was kindly meant and responding in a rude way.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Garden Goblin on January 04, 2013, 07:18:36 AM
I'm not sure what you mean by that. I don't believe WillyNilly accused you of any such thing. All she said is that a pre-Winter Break party involving Santa or candycanes or snowflakes isn't anything but secular for a lot of people.

That's what the original post I was responding too called me, which was one of the reasons I objected to what it stated.  I don't like being called names, told I need more goodwill, or that I should take my child out of school if I do not wish to celebrate Christmas.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: TootsNYC on January 04, 2013, 07:22:03 AM
I bet the reason their kid was so upset about having the ornament taken away is that HE knew it had nothing to do with Christmas, and HE knew it wasn't *really* against their "anti-commercialization of Christmas" stance.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: RingTailedLemur on January 04, 2013, 08:21:50 AM
I'm not sure what you mean by that. I don't believe WillyNilly accused you of any such thing. All she said is that a pre-Winter Break party involving Santa or candycanes or snowflakes isn't anything but secular for a lot of people.

That's what the original post I was responding too called me, which was one of the reasons I objected to what it stated.  I don't like being called names, told I need more goodwill, or that I should take my child out of school if I do not wish to celebrate Christmas.

I can see how it might be read that way, but I really don't think Rusty meant that.  I think she meant, "If you are going to spoil other people's celebrations by being rude, stay home".
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: gollymolly2 on January 04, 2013, 08:47:02 AM
I'm not sure what you mean by that. I don't believe WillyNilly accused you of any such thing. All she said is that a pre-Winter Break party involving Santa or candycanes or snowflakes isn't anything but secular for a lot of people.

That's what the original post I was responding too called me, which was one of the reasons I objected to what it stated.  I don't like being called names, told I need more goodwill, or that I should take my child out of school if I do not wish to celebrate Christmas.

I read that post the same way - if you don't like your child's school officially celebrating a religious holiday, stay home, you're a "politically correct wowster" (whatever that was). Which strikes me as both inflammatory and unnecessary since it's totally unrelated to the actual topic of the thread - a gift between individual kids.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: ettiquit on January 04, 2013, 09:43:02 AM
This is an interesting thread.  I'm an atheist, and I celebrate the secular X-mas.  Christian holidays celebrated in public schools don't really bother me as most are derived from pagan rituals and the religious aspects can be easily left out. 

I would have a problem with my son receiving a religious-themed gift from another student, but I'd be taking that up with the school, not the parents.  When I receive overly-religious Christmas cards, I'm not offended, but they do go in the trash.  There's kind of a delicate balance for me, where I try to maintain a healthy level of tolerance but speaking up (politely!) when I deem something completely inappropriate.

The parent's in the OP's story are utterly ridiculous.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: WillyNilly on January 04, 2013, 09:52:30 AM
I'm not sure what you mean by that. I don't believe WillyNilly accused you of any such thing. All she said is that a pre-Winter Break party involving Santa or candycanes or snowflakes isn't anything but secular for a lot of people.

That's what the original post I was responding too called me, which was one of the reasons I objected to what it stated.  I don't like being called names, told I need more goodwill, or that I should take my child out of school if I do not wish to celebrate Christmas.

I can see how it might be read that way, but I really don't think Rusty meant that.  I think she meant, "If you are going to spoil other people's celebrations by being rude, stay home".

I can't speak for Rusty, but as far as me, I don't agree with name calling (not even the "politically correct" label) I'm merely defending that public school holiday celebrations are in my experience and opinion general and secular and if a parent still objects, well then yeah, keeping their kid home (or having them sent to the library, etc) is a valid option for them and better then having the whole celebration shut down for everyone, simply because one family objects. Schools are part of the larger society and our society celebrates x-mas.  I think to totally ignore the winter holidays would be doing a terrible disservice to children, leaving then horribly ignorant and denying them a basic joy of our culture at large.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Twik on January 04, 2013, 10:04:12 AM
Basically, this has little to do with whether a snowflake is a religious image, and much to do with basic etiquette.

One is unlikely to go through life, in any belief system (religious, political, philosophical or moral), without being offered, in good will, a present that will conflict with it. The polite thing to do is to give thanks, and then dispose of the gift in a way that meets your own beliefs, and does not get back to the giver. Chastizing the giver for not recognizing your own stance (particularly when the giver was a 6 year old child), is well beyond the pale of polite behaviour.

If the family disapproves of snowflakes, they could have thrown it away. The literally holier-than-thou letter was unnecessary, and, I think, had less to do with any real pain on their behalf, and more about proclaiming just how noble they were in their own beliefs.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Garden Goblin on January 04, 2013, 10:08:38 AM
Schools are part of the larger society and our society celebrates x-mas. 

Just because the majority follows a particular religion does not mean they get to push that religion onto others, nor does it mean it is appropriate or acceptable for those in positions of secular authority endorse that religion over others.

As I already stated, as long as the celebration is wholly secular and any education on the subject of holidays is done neutrally, I have no problems.  I did, however, object to a post which stated that if I was a politically correct wowser who objected to Christmas celebrations I should keep my kid out of public school and I probably just needed more goodwill in my life.

The schools should not be celebrating Christmas.  No, not even with alternative spellings.  Celebrating the winter holidays and learning about various holiday traditions is however, a wholly different scenario, and perfectly acceptable.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: artk2002 on January 04, 2013, 10:32:47 AM
Schools are part of the larger society and our society celebrates x-mas. 

Just because the majority follows a particular religion does not mean they get to push that religion onto others, nor does it mean it is appropriate or acceptable for those in positions of secular authority endorse that religion over others.

As I already stated, as long as the celebration is wholly secular and any education on the subject of holidays is done neutrally, I have no problems.  I did, however, object to a post which stated that if I was a politically correct wowser who objected to Christmas celebrations I should keep my kid out of public school and I probably just needed more goodwill in my life.

The schools should not be celebrating Christmas.  No, not even with alternative spellings.  Celebrating the winter holidays and learning about various holiday traditions is however, a wholly different scenario, and perfectly acceptable.

Your missing part of the point here. WillyNilly's using "X-mas" in a very specific way, as she explained up-thread. She's that term to mean the secular celebration, not the religious one. As others have pointed out, they celebrate many traditions that are associated with "Christmas" without being Christian themselves. Just because someone has a celebration in late December, it doesn't mean that they're celebrating the Christian Christmas. I think it's very appropriate that schools do both multi-cultural and secular celebrations at this time. In fact, I view the multi-cultural aspect of this (i.e. Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, Diwali, Yule, etc.) to be part of the school's job of educating students.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Moray on January 04, 2013, 10:45:06 AM
I'm not sure what you mean by that. I don't believe WillyNilly accused you of any such thing. All she said is that a pre-Winter Break party involving Santa or candycanes or snowflakes isn't anything but secular for a lot of people.

That's what the original post I was responding too called me, which was one of the reasons I objected to what it stated.  I don't like being called names, told I need more goodwill, or that I should take my child out of school if I do not wish to celebrate Christmas.

Ah, that must be where my confusion came in. You're upset by Rusty's phrasing, but you quoted a post from WillyNilly, so I assumed you were responding to her specifically.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Mikayla on January 04, 2013, 10:54:15 AM
I agree with Twik.  Even if a case can be made that the snowflake had valid reason to be offended by the snowflake (it's obvious where I fall on that issue!) there are no circumstances under which it is ok to send a note like that.

Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Venus193 on January 04, 2013, 10:55:40 AM
I agree with Twik.  Even if a case can be made that the snowflake had valid reason to be offended by the snowflake (it's obvious where I fall on that issue!) there are no circumstances under which it is ok to send a note like that.



I think we can all agree on this much.  What -- if anything -- should the OP do now?
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: ------ on January 04, 2013, 11:19:26 AM
I agree with Twik.  Even if a case can be made that the snowflake had valid reason to be offended by the snowflake (it's obvious where I fall on that issue!) there are no circumstances under which it is ok to send a note like that.



I think we can all agree on this much.  What -- if anything -- should the OP do now?


While I think in general complete silence is the way to go, I have to make an exception. I think in this particular case, the note by Toots upthread is the perfect response.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: snowdragon on January 04, 2013, 11:21:14 AM
Nothing, She and her child should go on as before, and ignore the note. If they choose to do anything for any other holiday for the class - just omit this child from the list. Just like any other moral code ( drinking, dress, food, ect, ect, ect) those who don't hold that belief are not bound by it. If the other child's parents feel offended by this - well they don't get to control the rest of the world by way of their morals.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Sharnita on January 04, 2013, 11:22:19 AM
I might let the teacher know in case there is generally a policy that everybodymust get a Valentine or something like that.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Mikayla on January 04, 2013, 11:28:23 AM
I agree with Twik.  Even if a case can be made that the snowflake had valid reason to be offended by the snowflake (it's obvious where I fall on that issue!) there are no circumstances under which it is ok to send a note like that.


I think we can all agree on this much.  What -- if anything -- should the OP do now?

I don't understand your point, Venus.  Having read through the entire thread just now, I saw maybe one mention of the note being rude before Twik mentioned it.  You may care to assume "we all agree on this much", but I wouldn't make that assumption, since there isn't even agreement on whether or not the snowflake mom had a right to be offended to begin with.

As to what to do, I liked the wording upthread that incorporated a request for the snowflake to be returned. 




Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on January 04, 2013, 11:34:23 AM
My response is a combo of Snowdragon's and Sharnita's, just not include that child and let the teacher know (who knows, maybe the teacher got something similar) about the letter so she'll be aware in the future when holidays come up.  From elementary school, and having a 4th grader now, the feeling is usually that if you bring something for one child, there needs to be enough for everyone in the class. 

That way arrangements can be made or the teacher can talk with the parents about perhaps moving their daughter to another activity during the holiday party so she won't be forced to go against the religion.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: Twik on January 04, 2013, 11:39:31 AM
As to what to do, there is no need to respond to the letter (and I can't really think of a response that would be appropriate). For future occasions, I would simply omit the child from any group gifting. I hope, for her sake, that this is a one-off, and that she will not end up being ostracized because none of her playmate's gifts meet her parents' standards.
Title: Re: I have not the words...
Post by: VltGrantham on January 04, 2013, 11:50:07 AM
Please bear with me everyone.  I've tried to read all the responses and want to answer questions, but also wanted to give you all a heads-up on the current situation.

The note was addressed to "The parents of DD LastName", not DD herself.  We have not told her the specifics of the note, but we did tell her last night that classmate's parents didn't want anything like that in future.  She told us that her classmate had mentioned that the parents had taken the snowflake and thrown it away--so she already knew something had happened to it.

Ironically, her friend did say "Thanks for getting me one though.  I wish my parents hadn't thrown it away.  It was pretty."

Also, I don't know what religion the parents are.

I volunteer in DD's classroom several times per week and went there this morning.  The teacher immediately pulled me aside and apologized because she had a feeling the letter had been rather nasty.  She got one, the school did too, and the principal was pulled into it.  The Mom called and spoke with the principal at length on Wednesday and was basically told that they were sorry their family had been offended, but they would appreciate advance notice in future of any restrictions involving their children.  The family had plenty of opportunity when requests for contributions to the holiday bags were solicited and when items for the class winter party were also solicited.  The principal said that in future, the child would have the opportunity to work with the math or reading resource teachers during the time that the class had its celebrations and that they would hand out (and put away) any gifts at that time so as to minimize the impact on this one child.

It turns out that DH and I have run into this family before--and the interaction wasn't good then either.  It was during a time when DD attended preschool at our local church.  We had a program with all of the preschoolers celebrating and the parents, who were strict vegans, were angry that most of the dishes weren't.  Their children were consuming them with gusto and that forced them to have to take the foods away.  This child wasn't in DD's class and I didn't know the family's name until later.  It was a common last name in our area and I really didn't think to put two and two together when I heard it in DD's class.

As for upcoming Valentine's Day--we're going to make the crafts I proposed, except that we will not be making one for this child.  I do not intend to respond to the note, as I think anything I write will only make the situation worse or provoke another letter from them and I don't wish to get any more involved with them than we already are.  Though I must admit, I did like the letter that suggested we ask for the snowflake back! 
Title: Re: I have not the words...UPDATE: Post #132
Post by: JenJay on January 04, 2013, 11:57:07 AM
So their life plan is to go through it with strict rules, tell no-one, and become enraged when those rules aren't followed? That sounds like a good way to ensure you are perpetually unhappy.  :-\

The little girl sounds sweet, and I'm glad your DD didn't end up with hurt feelings!
Title: Re: I have not the words...UPDATE: Post #132
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on January 04, 2013, 11:59:06 AM
To quote George Takei, oh myyy!!!

Who wants to hedge bets that they told no one at the church that they were vegan until that day?

I feel sorry for their daughter and their other kids, but at least they are learning manners from somewhere if their daughter thanked your DD for the snowflake even if it was thrown away.
Title: Re: I have not the words...UPDATE: Post #132
Post by: Snooks on January 04, 2013, 12:01:38 PM
Sounds like your interaction with the teacher was a positive one and I think it's clear that you did nothing wrong, and neither did the school.  The best thing to do is to move forward from this and have a chat with your daughter before Valentine's day about when she can give out the gifts so she isn't obviously excluding her classmate.  For that situation I'm thinking more about other children noticing that she's not given a gift to this particular classmate and a gossip mill starting up when a child tells his parent that everyone got one except AngryParents' Child.
Title: Re: I have not the words...UPDATE: Post #132
Post by: ------ on January 04, 2013, 12:03:59 PM
I think you're right VTGrantham. Based on your update, I think it is wise not to send any note (as tempting as it is) so as to avoid inflaming the situation any further. I credit you with taking the high road, and continuing your generosity to the the other students.

I hope these other parents find a way to feel better and deal with whatever their issue is in a healthier way.

But kudos to you for handling the situation with so much grace.

P.S. I feel sorry for their kid. Sounds like he or she is being raised in a blizzard of specialness. Poor thing.  :'(
Title: Re: I have not the words...UPDATE: Post #132
Post by: EmmaJ. on January 04, 2013, 12:19:59 PM
I'm wondering how will you handle the Valentine's Day gift distribution?  I'm feeling so sorry for the little girl.  I hope she doesn't see everyone receiving a gift - except her.

OP, would you consider sending a note home to the child's parents in a few weeks when everyone has had a chance to cool down?  Don't addresss the snowflake issue at all, just write a few words saying you were thinking about giving all the children a Valentine's Day gift of crayons and you wanted to be sure it was acceptable to them. 

This would give them a heads up, it would avoid drama, and maybe they would say yes so their child would not be excluded.

Title: Re: I have not the words...UPDATE: Post #132
Post by: VltGrantham on January 04, 2013, 12:24:15 PM
Quote
I feel sorry for their kid. Sounds like he or she is being raised in a blizzard of specialness. Poor thing.

The sad thing is that I have felt very sorry for this child for a long time.  I will go ahead and say that the child in question is a boy.  He is always dirty and his clothes look (and smell) like they haven't been washed in a long time.  He is extremely, extremely, bright and energetic.  I have, for a long time, wanted to take the poor kid home, give him a good bath, and wash his clothes.  (But that would be creepy and I don't know of any polite way you could either suggest or do this.)  To my knowledge, he doesn't have a good winter coat (or at least he doesn't bring one to school) and yet repeated attempts to give him one from the school's store of such things have never worked.  He borrows a coat from the school nurse to play outside with on a daily basis.

I suppose that makes me a bad person for judging them and I have no real proof--maybe he gets dirty on his way to school.  Maybe his parents are generally unaware of it, and maybe their home is a very loving one.  I am also sure that my opinion is based in large part on the negative interaction we have had with them both recently and in the past.   It's kinda ironic because during winter vacation, DD made comments about how she hoped he was having a good time over winter break and was doing o.k.  DH and I suggested to her that maybe she should be extra sweet and kind to him in future over the break as he just seems like he needs some extra "love" but after this note, I'm very sorry if we caused him any additional upset.  If I had known his parents were the ones in question, I might have had some forethought of issues ahead, but I didn't put two and two together until later.

Quote
I'm wondering how will you handle the Valentine's Day gift distribution?

My understanding is that during their celebration, this child will go to the library and spend the celebration time (30 minutes) working with either the reading or math resource teachers.  While he's gone, they will have their party, exchange Valentine's and then put them away before he returns to the classroom.
Title: Re: I have not the words...UPDATE: Post #132
Post by: DoubleTrouble on January 04, 2013, 12:24:57 PM
I'm wondering how will you handle the Valentine's Day gift distribution?  I'm feeling so sorry for the little girl.  I hope she doesn't see everyone receiving a gift - except her.

OP, would you consider sending a note home to the child's parents in a few weeks when everyone has had a chance to cool down?  Don't addresss the snowflake issue at all, just write a few words saying you were thinking about giving all the children a Valentine's Day gift of crayons and you wanted to be sure it was acceptable to them. 

This would give them a heads up, it would avoid drama, and maybe they would say yes so their child would not be excluded.

I think that's a bad idea, anything the OP does now to contact the family will just be fanning the flames. OP, I'm glad that you know the whole story & that the school is on your side, this family sounds a few cards short of a deck.

Kudos to the son for thanking your daughter, that shows some real maturity.
Title: Re: I have not the words...UPDATE: Post #132
Post by: Cat-Fu on January 04, 2013, 12:35:02 PM
I'm confused—why would they send their children to preschool at your church if they weren't members? That seems like an odd choice if they're going to get all sanctimonious about Christmas.

Anyway, it sounds like it's in the kid's best interest to let this be.
Title: Re: I have not the words...UPDATE: Post #132
Post by: Piratelvr1121 on January 04, 2013, 12:48:43 PM
If I read the OP right, they are a denomination of Christianity and were offended by the commercialization of Christmas. "War on Christmas" kind of stuff.  I think it was said earlier, though maybe not the OP, something about someone claiming there were no gifts involved in the true meaning of Christmas or something.

(Guess they're not counting the gifts of gold, frankincense and Myrrh given by the wise men?)
Title: Re: I have not the words...UPDATE: Post #132
Post by: m2kbug on January 04, 2013, 01:13:06 PM
I'm wondering how will you handle the Valentine's Day gift distribution?  I'm feeling so sorry for the little girl.  I hope she doesn't see everyone receiving a gift - except her.

OP, would you consider sending a note home to the child's parents in a few weeks when everyone has had a chance to cool down?  Don't addresss the snowflake issue at all, just write a few words saying you were thinking about giving all the children a Valentine's Day gift of crayons and you wanted to be sure it was acceptable to them. 

This would give them a heads up, it would avoid drama, and maybe they would say yes so their child would not be excluded.

I think that would be adding to the fire.  At this point it's best to stay out of it and let the school deal with it.  Have as little contact with those parents as possible.  They are trouble. 

It sounds like they will be removing the child from the room when the cards and gifts are handed out for Valentine's Day.
Title: Re: I have not the words...UPDATE: Post #132
Post by: Wordgeek on January 04, 2013, 01:35:14 PM
The matter has been sufficiently addressed.