Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ah Halloween... My Gateway in to the Holiday Season

A few years ago, I wondered if I'd get the chance to celebrate Halloween once I found a teaching job.  In a world where everyone has to be so PC all of the time, and worry about not hurting anyone's feelings... I felt that the holidays I love so much would fall from my life in to a "do it on your own time" abyss.

I stood by and watched as school districts banned celebrating Halloween because there was "no real value except to dress in silly costumes and go against all things religious... why on earth would we celebrate a day that celebrates opening a gateway to the dead?".  And yes, that's a direct quote I once heard.  I watched as Halloween and Christmas parties became Fall and Winter parties - so that no one would have to worry about sending out the wrong message that a school had a religious agenda.

I've lived in this country since I was 12, yet it still amazes me how caught up people get in the whole religious holiday debate.  In England, our schools recognized holidays of ALL the major religions.  We had Jewish days off, Christian days off, Muslim days off, Chinese New Year, and Hindu days off.  How on earth were we able to do that? Well, in England, you only get 6 weeks off for the summer instead of three months... so there was plenty of wiggle room to include everyone.

Now, I definitely don't believe that schools should start getting holidays off for all major religions.  But, I also don't see anything wrong with celebrating now and then for certain holidays.  I happen to agree with the separation of church and state for that very reason.  But, then I'm going to be a big hypocrite and say DON'T TAKE AWAY OUR HOLIDAY PARTIES!

Thankfully, I don't have to worry about that.  I was blessed with the opportunity of getting a job in a school that still very much allows the celebration of Halloween... in fact, it's basically a day long event.

This morning, our entire K-6th grades will walk downtown and parade around for the businesses and do some Trick or Treating and have a costume contest.  Even the church preschool, where Jelly attends, is a part of these festivities.  It's a community thing - not a religious thing.  Wow, what a concept, right?  The church purchased costumes for all of the little ones and they, too, will walk downtown (after all of the big kids are out of the way) to do their own little parade.

This afternoon, 3rd-6th grades will have their annual Halloween parties and the 7th and 8th grade will have a Halloween dance... during school hours in lieu of a Halloween party.  How cool is that?  No having to drive my child to the dance or pick her up late at night.  It will be right there...and being that I'm a student council sponsor - I'll even get to attend half of the junior high dance.

Now, with all this going on, you try and tell me that I don't work for the best school in the entire world!

OK, so I'm a big fan of holiday celebrations.  Shoot, I'm a big fan of any form of celebrations.  The kids in my class will tell you that.  If there's a way I can include some kind of party or celebration in to something we're doing in class... I'll find it.  You met all of your reading goals?  Well, let's have a party to celebrate.  We earned 20 Tiger Paws for good behavior?  We must have a party!  Everyone had gains on their STAR testing?  Definitely calls for a celebration.

That's just how I roll.  Incentives and rewards work.  Why on earth would we try and get rid of them?

But, at the end of the day, Halloween is nothing to me but a day to dress up in a silly costume and have a good time.  I'm not really a fan of going out at night in the cold to Trick or Treat... to the dismay of my biological children.  Which I now don't have to worry so much about when they've spent a day at school eating and collecting candy.  No, Halloween isn't really a holiday for me by it's self.  I don't care if it represents some gateway to the dead opening up.  It's a special, different holiday in my mind.  It's the gateway holiday to the BIG holiday season.

Halloween is approximately three weeks before Thanksgiving which is a month before Christmas. And THOSE are the holidays I care the most about.  I couldn't think of a better way to get all excited about the upcoming holiday season than Halloween.  It's my way of shouting from the roof tops "It's finally OK to see all of the holiday decorations in the stores and actually enjoy them!"  It's my way of celebrating the fact that I can now go and start buying Christmas presents, and planning the big Thanksgiving feast I'll put on for my family members.  I get to dress up in a funny outfit, eat some candy, and celebrate that there's only a few short weeks left until the big kahuna holidays happen.

And, now I'm going to start getting ready for that very important celebration right.  this.. second.



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