Yes, Miss Veeka had a milestone week in that on Thursday afternoon she triumphantly met me at her classroom door with a front tooth in a little baggie. It had been loose for several days and she was all a’twitter trying to figure out if it’d hurt or not. Am guessing she was talking so much about it in class that her teacher shipped her to the school nurse who took it out. So Now We Are Six.
Other happenings this week: Got a smallish story in the WaPo magazine this week for their “in memoriam” section about local people who had died during the year, weren’t famous but who had led exemplary lives. My story was about Elijah Byrd, a pentecostal minister who rode a motorcycle. I interviewed the family in…October, I think and it took some time to explain to them what these obits were all about. The wife was not willing at first to be interviewed so I contacted the brother-in-law who very kindly talked the rest of the family into working with me. I am very sorry I never met Mr. Byrd in real life as we probably would have gotten along really well.
The photos in this post are taken by Lauren Pond, who shot tons of photos for Veeka’s baptism. I finally was able to download what she took so am running them from time to time as they are beautiful and I am so glad I invested in a photographer. Anyway, today the Wall Street Journal ran this story on how Hanukkah has been revved up as a holiday to compete with Christmas. I’d say there are forces that would like to do away with Christmas altogether. An odd incident at Veeka’s public school yesterday made me realize this. The kids were performing a holiday show with one song about snowmen, one was “Jingle Bells” and the other was “Light the Candle” or something like that about “dancing the hora” and Hanukkah. The kids wore around their necks little paper bells, snowmen or….dreidels – a major Hanukkah symbol. I glanced around the cafeteria and there were several Muslim moms there, all wearing hijab. Did they know their kids were singing Jewish songs? Every Muslim I know would be very perturbed at that idea.
Also, this is not heavily Jewish Montgomery County. This is overwhelmingly black/Hispanic Prince George’s County. Ours is the county that defeated Maryland’s same-sex marriage bill. We’re talking evangelical Protestant/pentecostal or Catholic adherents. The Muslim families I’ve encountered are mostly immigrants. One of Veeka’s favorite friends has an Egyptian, hijab-wearing mom. I’d be surprised if there were a handful of Jewish kids in the entire school. Sooooooo …why are we singing about Hanukkah and not Christmas? I like dreidels and have two at home along with a menorah, the First and Second Jewish Catalogues and a killer recipe for challah. I can recite the kiddush or Shabbat blessings by heart – in Hebrew. But this was a bit too politically correct for moi.
I approached the music teacher, who said the songs were selections the kindergarten teachers had requested because they were fun/easy to sing and I said fine, but I found it bizarre that Christmas wasn’t alluded to at all in their presentation. Instead of snowmen around the kids’ necks, how about a star? And was it that difficult to teach the kids “Silent Night”? Amazingly, the discrepancy had never occurred to her. It would not happen next year, she promised. We shall see. I was watching the kids channel Nickelodeon this afternoon and darned if there wasn’t something about dreidels on that too, along with a voice over cooing about that and wrapping presents being what “the season” is all about. I had a discussion the other day with someone who suggested that all the debate about “Christmas wars” was over the top. I didn’t think so because it’s gotten so that one never hears the word “Jesus” this time of year unless you are physically inside a church. You won’t hear it in school, on TV or in the stores. I hear the drumbeat of doing away with any mention of God having something to do with things that happen in December. It’s creepy. And it’s in my daughter’s school.