Monday, November 26, 2012

Cancelling Christmas

For as long as I've worked there, my agency has hosted an annual Christmas party in the lobby. (Never mind the separation of church and state, okay?) And since 2006 when my first kid started in daycare there, I've had a little one or two or three participate in the daycare pageantry. All the kids have come to the front of the lobby by the mammoth tree. A piano has rolled out and the kids have sung three carols for the crowd. Then Santa has appeared, each kid has either sat on his lap or had a public meltdown over the fear of sitting on a stranger's lap, and little toys have made their way into the children's hands.

This is L, enjoying a candy cane at last year's party, dressed in red as all the kids do to sing to the agency's celebrants.

If you ask L to name her favorite song of all time, she'll say Up on the Rooftop.

(Do you know that carol? Maybe everybody knows it but me, but I'm no Christmas music expert. Up on the rooftop reindeer pause / out jumps good ol' Santa Claus. They sing it every year, along with Jingle Bells and a third song I can't remember, even though what I'm telling you here is that this is time-honored tradition. Tradition!)

She loves that song so much that last year when we went to visit E in kindergarten for her Star Student day (at E's private Jewish school), when E introduced her favorite song and L was invited to introduce one, too, she sang Up on the Rooftop.

(The Israeli teacher didn't recognize it.)

This year, the agency notice for the annual party has just been posted, and for the first time it makes no mention of the daycare's role. A few parents have pressed the daycare director for more information, and the official answer is that the agency is feeling the pinch of budget cutbacks. I'm not sure I believe it. Certainly we're in an austerity frame of mind, watching the past two years' Senate appropriations shrink and shrink and the impending dive of the fiscal cliff come closer (not two mention our two years (thus far) of a pay freeze), but the gifts were small board books or stuffed animals. They daycare only holds about 40 kids. For the size of this party, the cost of gifts couldn't have been too substantial. I think someone doesn't think the kids need to be there.

And that's an adult decision that may or may not have merit, and certainly I don't know all of the relevant factors in making it, but I do know that my kids love this tradition and don't know yet that this year it's evaporated. And it's important to me that my kids know Christmas.

I'm guessing what's done is done but you never know for sure and now I have to decide if I want to join in the group of parents who might try to push back on this decision. Do I want to be the Jewish mom who fights for Christmas? Or should I let this bit of our family tradition fade now into the obscurity it would claim in just three years at G's daycare graduation, anyway?

Life takes funny turns sometimes.

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