The Sammy Show

Last night, me, Joe and sock B (now at the toe, thanks for asking) took ourselves (and two crabby teenaged sisters) down to Sam’s school for the “Songs from Around the World” concert.


So brilliant, so tremendously talented, so incredible is my youngest child that out of fourteen songs performed last night, my stellar, incomparable daughter figured in eight of them. (This means that we had such a good time last night that Joe didn’t even engage in his annual concert pastime of mentally figuring out A) how long the concert will go on, or B) how many more concerts we have to get through before our children all graduate, although…for the sake of anyone wondering, the answer is 19.)

Sam played Spanish songs on the french horn:


Sam performed native dance and song:


Sam expertly executed a Maori Stick game:


Sam sang Allunde in a quartet (accompanied by the choir. Very slick):


Sam was in the front row for the “Hymn to Freedom” …signing and singing her little heart out:


(Note for the folks who always wonder if my ability to focus when my children perform is completely absent. I deliberately blur the pictures, since I think the decision to post pictures of your kid on the net is a personal one. I don’t have the permission of all of those kids, so I blur ’em.)

It was a sparkling evening, and did confirm that while other peoples children seem very nice, my child is the best one. (Just sayin’)

Other children’s parents however, left a little to be desired. The parents sitting directly behind us while we watched our darling daughter not only talked through all of the performances, they said the most incredible things. A few gems.

Them: This isn’t Christmassy! Why are there no Christmas songs?

What I didn’t say so I don’t wreck my kids night: Read the program. Seriously. What about “Songs from around the world” read as “Christian celebration of Christ”? Just because something happens in December doesn’t mean it’s about Christmas. (My own life and decent into Christmas knitting notwithstanding.) This is the Toronto Public School Board, not a private Christian school, and the last time I checked this country had a very clear separation of Church and State.

I know that this will come as a shock to you, but your child attends school with some kids who are not Catholic like you, and your government has a responsibility to not play favourites with religion, or to give the Hindu kid your son plays tag with at lunch the impression that his school doesn’t think he’s not spiritually correct. If you want a Christmas show, I would direct you to the very nice church down the street, suggest you go to the mall, turn on the TV or sing carols with your family. There’s lots of Christmas to be had, I promise your kid won’t miss it because they didn’t make the end of term concert about the holiday.

Them: I don’t believe this. Native songs? Japanese songs? Great. This ones African. What does this have to do with Christmas? Why don’t these people get their own show?

WIDSSIDWMKN: “These people”? THESE PEOPLE? For starters Dude, those people outnumber you. Watch your step, your racism is showing. In this school of 300 students there are 23 languages spoken. In your kids class there are 13 languages, kids of every possible colour and race and buddy, bad news… they are Hindu, Shinto, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Sikh, Muslim and a few more that I don’t know about. These People? One in five people on the planet is a Muslim, your kid is one of six white children in his class, and I don’t think that your religion serves up such an enormous trump card that all of “those people” should have to suck it up at their own child’s concert. For a good chunk of the world, my friend, December 25th is ‘nuthin but another day of the year, so maybe you aught to pull yourself together, remember you’re not the most important guy on the planet, and if it’s really important to you that your kid gets to celebrate your religious holiday at school…get him to the Catholic school next door. It’s free too.

Them: It’s like they don’t know the meaning of Christmas!

WIDSSIDWMKN: Are you sure it’s them? Last time I checked there was something in the bible about loving everybody the way they are, and all people being equal. You live in a multicultural neighbourhood in a multi-cultural city, and this is the way it works when no one portion of humankind is more valid than the other. I’m not Christian (though I do like your holiday) so I could be wrong about this, but I really think that you might want to think a little about the love, peace and goodwill to all men that’s in those songs you want to hear.

Peace out.

214 thoughts on “The Sammy Show

  1. You tell ’em, Stephanie! Oh no, you didn’t, but that’s ok – in fact it was very restrained of you. We’re getting a lot of “Why aren’t we allowed to mention Christmas anymore?” stuff over here in England and it definitely has a questionable (and not very subtle) sub-text.
    Frantic knitting going on here – only a wrap, a baby’s jacket, two scarves and a pair of socks to finish! Hope your presents are all finished in time, Best wishes for the season, Tricia
    PS. Is it sad to be thrilled to be the first commenter?!

  2. You are right. Some people are thick. I am a Christian and celebrate Christmas, but… last I checked, that never stopped me from appreciating other people’s traditions and cultures!

  3. I woulda smacked them.
    Actually, I verbally smacked my own SIL when she had similar comments.
    Just because it’s a holiday we celebrate, doesn’t mean everyone else does. I have no idea how people can exist in this world and not KNOW this world.
    just sayin’.

  4. Wow! I don’t know if I could have held back from saying something to “those people.” I am very impressed with your restraint. I haven’t heard to much about it here, which is kinda surprising seeing how diverse the people I work with are. I guess they are just more relaxed about the whole thing.
    No frantic knitting here, but loads of frantic cross-stitching. (The wool for my last Christmas-knit project has yet to arrive. When it does there will be frantic knitting.)
    Have a great weekend everyone!

  5. Sorry, forgot to mention – that’s one tremendously talented kid you have. I bet the other two are as well.
    Almost as talented as my kid.
    Got one thrum mitt done – starting the other tonight.

  6. Stephanie, clearly you are in the New Testament portion of the bible. The people behind you were stuck in the Old portion (back before Christmas existed, but let’s not confuse things). You know, the portion that said “Thou shalt smite those who thinketh not like you”. Or something.
    But really, I vote that next time you circle or highlight “around the world” on the program, and hand it to them.
    Tricia, no it’s not sad. I was the first poster once and was unreasonably pleased with myself all day. (And I think you should be able to wish people Merry Christmas, and Happy Hannukah, and Happy Kwanzaa, and whatever else comes along.)

  7. Yep, what you said. I’d have been tempted to stab him with a knitting needle, just for a bit of entertainment. Although he probably wasn’t worth ruining a perfectly good needle.

  8. Holy crap (pun intended). I am duly impressed with your ability to grin and bear it, and keep the night about your daughter and her schoolmates. I’m not quite sure I would have been able to pull that off.

  9. You go, girl!
    I am a Christian (of the Episcopal variety) and I love learning about other cultures and their beliefs, etiquitte, etc. This world is so huge and interesting and filled with fascinating people and I want to know about them all. I think people who at Christmas gripe about not having “Christmassy” things on every open inch of space have no curiosity or imagination in their (self)closed minds. ‘Course, these are the same people who take their kids to egg-hunts (paganism at it finest, especially if they are chocolate eggs)
    Christmas knitting update (’cause you all want to hear how far behind everyone else is) Birthday scarf almost done, socks still nowhere close to finished, and I’m losing interest in getting IT. My family may have to wait til next year for me to lose my mind…

  10. Yay Steph!!
    Have you heard the song “The Christians and the Pagans” by Dar Williams? It’s one of my very favorite holiday songs. Great line from it – “now when Christians sit with Pagans, only pumpkin pies are burning.”

  11. “Why can’t these people get their own show?” [yuck]
    Um, they *were* in their own show. I don’t know where these snarky people thought they were.
    It sounds like the “Songs from Around the World” was jolly good fun. I’d love to learn to play the Maori stick game myself. Good show, Samantha!

  12. And it is the fact that there are parents like you and Joe that brings me comfort in these troubled times. Knowing that you have brought up three smart, talented, and lovely young women who share your values of tolerance, strength, curiosity, pacifism, and respect does my heart good.
    There’s plenty of bad in the world, but there’s a lot of good, too.

  13. It is amazing to me that we still live in a world where people continue this racist, narrow-minded, it’s-my-way-or-the-highway self-rightgeous crap. I hate racists…

  14. Ms. Pearl-McPhee,
    99 percent of the time, I am a huge fan of your blog, and I adore your wit and humour. And though there are a few paths where our ideologies may differ, I hold my peace, as you do yours. It’s all good, we are united by knitting, and that’s what matters.
    However, I was a little offended and saddened by the *ahem* biting remarks about Catholicism in today�s post. I am a Catholic, and for the most part in my experience, ordinary lay-folk Catholics in the United States (and Canada, I would wager) are some of the most tolerant and open-minded of religious people. I find that having something like the Inquisition and the Crusades in your history makes you a little more sensitive to others, but that might just be me. I can understand making a blanket statement of “Christian” in your rant since that encompasses denominations that tend to be a little more closed minded, and also covers the general group of people who tend to celebrate Christmas, not just Catholics.
    I understand your indignation at the ignorance displayed by these people, and I am with you in wanting to tell them to figure out that December does not automatically mean Christmas. I just hope next time their ignorance might be attributed to their own stupidity and closed-mindedness, as opposed to their religious leanings (which may or may not be Catholic).
    May your ball of yarn grow ever-smaller as the sock grows ever-longer, and of course, may you reach Christmas without IT.
    Take care,

  15. Admirable restraint. You might want to check your tension on the sock part you knit last night though. It may now be too tight to go over the foot of its intended wearer if you channeled the tension of biting your tongue into your knitting.
    I went to an Anglican girls school, and while our Christmas concerts were an unabashed Christmas Carol Concert, and we had prayers every morning before classes, our Religious Education classes made sure we were well versed in the importance and tradition of other cultures and the respect due them. I think it’s very cool that Sam’s school teaches so many arts from other cultures that we otherwise wouldn’t have exposure too. (and heck, with the middle name she has, I can’t see how she could be anything BUT wonderfully multitalented! *wink*

  16. Steph — You rock! I wish that you lived in my school district!
    For the record, I was one of those (gasp) folks who sat down at the very end of your list of qualifications to remain standing (which is to say that I thought I could get all my holiday knitting accomplished with a minimum of hair pulling and IT.) You will be surprised to hear that since then I’ve added a pair of gloves, a hat, and a pair of mittens to the list — all of which must be done without the young waif seeing. It’s gonna be interesting …

  17. Yahoo! I wish that my country (USA) had that nifty separation of Church and State.
    And I think you’ll agree, it’s a special time in a knitter’s life when she discovers that she can knit in the dark.

  18. Well said! (I can’t remember if I’ve commented before, but I read every entry. This one though, I had to comment, even if it boils down to two words.)

  19. Favorite recent bumper sticker, alongside Kerry/Edwards/[Virginia democratic politicians, rinse, repeat]: “God bless the world — no exceptions.”
    I’m not actually sure how much I have left to do here, T – 9. I did rip out a couple hours work on daughter’s hat after realizing it’s too big. Knit an emergency teacher-gift scarf last night when I realized my kid’s last day of school before The Day is today. Um. It’s all good.
    Thanks, Steph, as always.

  20. Right on sister!!
    Unfortunately, sometimes ignorance is not bliss. I shudder to think what lessons they are passing along to their children.

  21. Annemarie – In Stephanie’s defense, you’re probably not aware that in Ontario, where we live, Catholic schools are publicly funded up to the high school level, and have a Seperate School Board that is able to mold the curriculum to a very strongly Catholic centred base. Not just Christian, but very specifically Catholic. I’d be willing to bet that’s the only reason Catholics were mentioned – because ther IS that seperate funded option (my Anglican school was private, with fees up the wazoo) – as I honestly don’t believe there are many people who are more open to accepting the values of other cultures, even if she doesn’t agree with them, than Stephanie is.

  22. As one of Those People (Jewish atheist – put THAT in your bible and smoke it!) those idiots are lucky that they weren’t sitting behind ME (which would have been a mighty feat, as I was several thousand miles away at the time)!
    These morons epitomize the punchline to one of my favorite jokes, which takes place in heaven: “Yeah, that’s the Catholics – they think they’re the only ones up here.”
    Rock on, you harlot, you!

  23. I keep saying I’m going to write a pamphlet about the true “meaning” of Christmas. A caveat, I am a Christian, so if anyone says I’m going to hell, well, you are wrong.
    The date was chosen as one of many to take over a pagan feast day, in this case, the winter solstice. In fact, who knows when the Lord was really born. December 25th 1 AD? I doubt it. In the Bible, we are told to observe the death and resurrection, not the birth of Christ. This isn’t the only instance of a Christian feast day being used to take away a pagan feast day. Another example is Nov 1, All Saints Day. Coincidentally, the day after Halloween. Of course, that one didn’t catch on. I keep threatening to have a proper Celtic Christmas: Go out and chop down a tree and burn it, in hopes that the sun will return. Of course, then husband reminds me that I don’t really like the sun that much.
    And now, back to Christmas knitting – 4 socks to go!

  24. Well said, Stephanie! You didn’t say it to the folks behind you, but this idea needs to be voiced more often by more people. As Annemarie wrote above, sadly, religious bigotry is not confined to Catholics or any other single group. It is also too true that many people will never change their perceptions or opinions no matter how earnestly nor often they are told or shown that other ways are just as valid as theirs.
    And, Martha (another one), the First Amendment to the US Constitution speaks of religious freedom and having no government-sponsored religion. Recently, our political leaders seem intent on revoking that concept. More of us need to speak up, more often and more loudly, before that happens.

  25. As a person who is a mix of Chinese/Danish/Dutch/German, raised Catholic, married to a Russian Jew, my family could have BEEN the show. 🙂 I whole heartedly agree with the words you didn’t say, though you exerted more self control than I would have. You go girl.

  26. It kind of reminds me of when I went with a friend to the silent Phantom Of The Opera where the organ-player encouraged us to provide the ‘soundtrack’ by screaming and gasping in horror at the appropriate points in the movie. There was a guy behind us who felt it was his obligation to shush us the entire time.
    Afterwards I told him that for half the price of the ticket (the tickets were $15), he could have gone to a regular theater where the pictures talked and moved and could shush all the people he wanted.
    Weenies, all of them.

  27. Thank you for saying that! Well, thank you for not engaging in a shouting match at the concert – nice display of peace, love and understandiung, that – but thank you for posting it. It drives me crazy how a holiday that is about celebrating the birth of Christ (of all people/myths/gods) brings out the intolerance and barely suppressed bigotry in people. I’ve already had the conversation about why it’s called a “holiday tree” at government sites instead of a Christmas tree. Multicultural country mean anything to you? You want the tolerance and inclusion that is part of Canada’s fabric to get thrown out the window just because you are celebrating a holiday? Drives me absolutely batty.
    So thank you.

  28. Stephanie — Amen!
    CatBookMom – What do you mean “BEFORE that happens”??? Jefferson and friends must be rolling over in their graves.
    BTW, my eleven year old son’s holiday concert today featured Indian (no, not Native American, Indian) and African music, and a bunch of other stuff like We Wish You a Merry Christmas (gasp) and a Hannukah (gasp) song. It was awesome.

  29. Your post about those obnoxious folk reminds me of this article a friend of mine posted on his LJ.
    It really worries me that this seems to be spreading, but kudos to you for not holding a shouting match- I would have said very angry words to those people. Also, congrats to your daughter- it seems that she is amazingly, amazingly talented!

  30. You rock! Your restraint is commendable.
    I do not understand people like that. I thought the whole point of this holiday is peace, love and understanding? (or is that an Elvis Costello song…whatever…) Those folks are not spreading the joy, joy, joy down in their hearts.
    Maybe there should be a remedial Christmas Spirit class.
    I can send my parents and brother…they told me Christmas was about getting gifts. Huh?! They told me in no uncertain terms they wanted presents and that money donated to charity in their name is not a present.
    Luckily there are such fabulous people out there such as yourself and all the above commenters who make the world brighter just by being here.
    Much love to y’all!!

  31. Yup. Exactly. Well said.
    I’ve been disturbed that the “no holidays” (including halloween) at my kids’ preschool has suddenly gone to heck, with a holiday concert featuring jingle bells and other xmas songs. Presumably they made the nod to the dreidel song, but I need to find out what’s going on. Sigh. Sadly, our country’s separation of church and state is a little more tenuous (and this whole bill o’reilly christmas thing isn’t helping). Anyway, right on, mama.

  32. I just want to know whatever happened to the 12 days of Christmas? Why is it something like the 2 months of Christmas now? I’m sick of Christmas before we even get to it these days.

  33. Yay! I have to say, I love you Stephanie!!! Boo, hiss, to all of the weenies out there, one and all!!!
    And I, too, love “The Christians and the Pagans”, got it on my IPod! 😉

  34. You know what, above and beyond the Snarky Parents, it’s apparent that you have a talented and lovely daughter there, and I hope you thoroughly enjoyed watching her share that talent with everyone last night. 🙂 Congratulations.
    Also, I hope the toe seams up tonight. /nodnod

  35. I’d have wanted to sacrifice a sock needle or two by poking him *really really hard*. Oh dear, that’s not at all nice. Luckily wool helps with anger management issues.

  36. Steph, right on. I’m Christian, my husband’s Jewish, and it makes for an interesting life. We’re both sick of the commercialism around Christmas. Why not learn more about holidays celebrated by various cultures instead of thinking one’s own culture is the “dominant” one?
    I’m in the US, and way back when, my mom was upset ab out the rulings against prayer in schools. Then she realized that it might not be the prayer that *she* wanted to happen in schools and allowed that maybe those judges were right on the prayer issue.

  37. wow… i would NOT have been able to keep my mouth shut!!!! In fact… maybe you shouldn’t have either but then again… you didn’t want to “wreck” Sam’s night. 🙂

  38. They’re lucky they weren’t sitting in front of me, I couldn’t have kept quiet.
    Reminds me a little of the time I went to a performance of ‘Barber of Seville’, with surtitles so you could really understand all the jokes, and discovered that the people behind me thought I should not be bothering them by laughing.

  39. Right on! and Well done Sam.
    My favorite thing about where I live (NYC, borough of Queens) is its enormous diversity. When I vacation, inevitably in upstate NY with extended family who live there, one of my favorite places to go for a nearby reality (as in, this is more like the real color of the world!) check is Toronto.

  40. what a giant annoyance that they were talking the whole way through. but to add to that, they were obviously loud enough for you to overhear all their stupid and ignorant comments! i’m half Hindu, half Jain, and my husband is Christian. We are rather informally raising our children as Buddhists. Among the many observances we enjoy, we celebrate Christmas, Diwali and the Winter Solstice. We are these people and those people might actually have fun at our party if they loosened up a little and enlightened themselves too! Wow Stephanie, you are a great mom, a model of restraint. I don’t think I could have held back. I would have had to at least hiss at them to shut the hell up!! And then my kids would have been so embarrassed. Bravo to you, on all fronts.

  41. Steph – you are a hoot. Our area is very multicultural,too, but our “Winter Concert” (and by the way it’s not “winter”…..yet) at my son’s high school was the polar opposite of your daughter’s. The ultra multicultural school had a concert full of Christmas music, a bunch of it hymn-like. But what really gave me a laugh is that the orchestra played the most religiously based music – but the director is Orthodox Jewish. Cracked me up, I have to admit.
    Have to tell a story on a former co-worker of mine. She moved to Texas from Iran when she was 11. She is Muslim (obviously)(she is a meat eater, by the way, this becomes important later). Went through high school there, met a boy, became boyfriend and girlfriend, went to college – still boyfriend and girlfriend, out of college – STILL boyfriend and girlfriend, eventually became engaged and were married. Her husband……raised Orthodox Jewish and a vegetarian; and she is a little spitfire of a meateating Muslim Iranian, with just a touch of Texas twang in her voice – who has to remind her husband about HIS religious holidays. AND they celebrate Christmas – lights, tree, everything! She sees it as an “American” holiday!
    I also worked with a gal who was Wiccan (parents were Wiccan, too, it was not a fad with her). Halloween really hacked her off, because it devalued one of her most important religious holidays – Samhain.
    Sometimes, political correctness leaves me dizzy. But I love sharing things from other cultures – you can learn so much. I have always regretted not taking study abroad opportunities in college. I promise not to do the same thing with my kids!

  42. You must be so proud of Sam!
    However, I wonder if the family behind you were from another culture and were tittering, would you have bashed them so? It seems that it’s popular to be all accepting and embracing of other cultural heritages, but when it comes to the ones that developed these countries (Canada & USA) with a foundation for cultural pluralism it’s okay to bash them. Just something I’ve been thinking as I’ve watched the hoohah on the “holiday trees” and which stores say what things about the holidays.

  43. This year in our midwestern (US) town, we tried to break the “number of children singing a Christmas carol at the same time” record. Well, one of the local churches decided the song list wasn’t “Christian enough” and started a boycott of the event. Sometimes people can be so dissapointing. (I’m not sure it can be helped that kids have an easier time singing “Jingle Bells” than “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”)

  44. Good for you to be able to hold your tongue! Sometimes it’s so hard in the face of such banal, deliberate ignorance.
    One of my very good friends recently joined the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus and I had the pleasure of attending their holiday concert a few weeks ago. There were songs from all over the world, but one of my favorites was a traditional African song called Harambee. It had a great rhythm and you could just feel the joy in the song, without even understanding the words–and it didn’t threaten my appreciation of Christmas one bit!
    BTW, I started a scarf the other day after your scarf post. Damn you, woman, I haven’t finished my mom’s sweater and I leave Wednesday to fly home! Starting to freak out just a bit.

  45. Steph, sounds like Bill O’Reilly’s “War On Christmas” campaign has made its way across the border…*shudder*…you poor poor Canadians.
    Oh how I wish I could have been there. With my not having a child in the concert, I wouldnt have felt bad lashing out!
    And so many great comments have been made. The Dar Williams reference, The history of Christmas and how its modern timing was designed to take over Pagan holidays, our American Theocracy (Dubya Style Yo!), and so many more…
    Rock on Harlot 😉

  46. I love you . . . oh, no, did I just say that . . . things are going to be akward now aren’t they . . . shoot . . .it is akward now isn’t it . . . see this is what happens when I leave comments.
    from someone who does not celebrate x-mas, thank you, thank you, thank you.

  47. As my grandfather would have said, Some people are so narrow minded that they can look through a key hole with both eyes.
    Hopefully after spending a few years in a multicultural school their children are more enlightened than they are.

  48. That is just obnoxious. I would go insane in that situation, but I guess an adult knows better, huh? I am required to sing songs about at least Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanzaa. I like it that way.

  49. I must say you did very well in restraining yourself regarding the comments on the concert. Regardless of what they were saying, they could have kept quiet during the performance.
    Now I’m going to be disgusting and tell you that I have all my projects finished: three pairs of mittens, three hats, three scarves, two pairs of slipper socks, and a sweater (started last year but it’s done for Christmas). I finished my own pair of slipper socks and have a shawl on the needles. However I have sent out no holiday cards, hung any lights, put up a tree or any sort of decorations, or wrapped any gifts. A girl’s gotta have priorities, ya know. Mom always told me “If you want it done, do it yourself; I have enough of my own to do.”
    May your stitches be even up to midnight, missy.

  50. I should take you to my school board when I’m complaining about the catechism notebook used for the nonreligious moral education classes in Montr�al…
    Rock on.

  51. Personally, I think the bigger issue (Yes, even bigger than who’s who, what religion, etc. issue.) is that the people behind you were just plain rude! One does not talk through a performance of any kind. If you must have a conversation, then they should have gotten up and gone outside to have it.
    On a brighter note, IT is progressing nicely and I’ve cast on a scarf while visions of slippers, more scarves, and hats dance in my head!

  52. Steph-
    I am a public school music teacher. Thank you so much for this post! You hit the nail right on the head.

  53. I figure in a few more years when their kids are a little older and a little bolder they’ll be teaching Mom and Dad a thing or two about diversity. Chances are their best friends don’t look anything like them! lol I love the diversity in our schools.

  54. I’m with you Stephanie!
    Sadly, in the US, many people seem to think that “Holiday” means “Christmas”. And then there are those who don’t realize that Christmas is a religious holiday (not just spending lots of $$, Santa, Frosty and Rudolph).
    Diversity is always good. It helps us to realize that “they” ar epeople – just like “us”. It’s when we think of others as “them” that we don’t care what happens to “them”.
    And no, the US does not have seperation of church and state.
    Anyway. Congrats to your daughter and to you for being peaceful in the face of rude people (no matter WHAT they were talking about – they should have been QUIET during the program!!).

  55. Peace out, indeed. Sounds like it was a lovely concert all around. There’s something wonderful about watching your little ones up on stage isn’t there? Got to do the same last night with my littlest 🙂

  56. I wholeheartedly agree. I think that remarkable diversity is one of Toronto’s greatest assets – too bad the people you overheard have totally missed the boat.
    And by the by…I’m Catholic. And I wasn’t offended at all by what you’ve written here. In fact, I agree. Just sayin’.

  57. Why couldn’t you say anything? Oh, right, manners and good taste. Rats. As my son says, rude people seem to have a lot of fun. Apropos of nothing, you must get thr reissue of Favorite Mittens by Robin Hansen. It talks a lot about the Maritime provences, and has more about thrumming than you can shake a mitten at. Plus, the hats are toques, as they were meant to be. Back to the thrumming.

  58. I’m not Christian (although I was raised that way) but I do celebrate Christmas. I love learning about the customs of others, and think it’s wonderful when someone chooses to share their joy in their traditions with me. I also thought it was very cool to see all the holiday stamps the United States Postal Service is offering – three kinds of Christmas (Madonna and Child, Ornaments, & Cookies), Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and most amazingly Eid, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan. Very cool.

  59. Don’t you think it’s ironic that for all of the cultures celebrated at the concert, Christianity wasn’t one of them? And don’t you think it’s odd that you champion the rights of those cultures but think that Christians should walk down to the mall if they want a taste of theirs? A simple acknowledgement of one demographic group does not an endorsement make. Many ideas can be celebrated together. It seems silly to have a be concert “coincidentally” at Christmas-time and no mention of Christmas. I normally think you’ve got a pretty good take on the world even when our ideologies differ, but today felt like you just had an ax to grind. Maybe it’s just me.

  60. Well said, you! I ****love**** Canadians and Canada!
    Christmas knitting update from the SW US: one shawl finished, knitted bag and dresser trays knitted and awaiting felting, i-cord strap for teeny knitted purse nearing completion, new scarf for daughter-who-fell-in-love-with-Moda-Dea-Ticker-Tape-yarn-tonight awaiting cast-on. Wish me luck.

  61. We do Christmas, but it’s about the sparkly things and the presents and the cute little Department 56 Reindeer Flight School and Santa Visiting Center and such. Not so much the religion, as we aren’t. But anyway. My son’s World Dance class just had a performance, which included a South African dance, a Russian dance, and the Bus Stop, to the song Play that Funky Music White Boy. I love his World Dance teacher. 🙂

  62. Just a question: were there any religious winter festival type songs/games, or was it all secular? My issue (not that you care, but you do have a place for comments) is when the Muslim/Hindu/Jewish/etc perspective for the season is presented but NOT the Christian. In the US, you can celebrate any holiday or belief you want EXCEPT Christmas. And that’s just as wrong, in my humble opinion, as the comments where the people wanted to know why they were performing stuff that wasn’t Christian.

  63. It’s like you read my mind! This is the same type of stuff that’s been really getting under my skin these days. I’m so grateful that it’s not just me! LOVE your blog as always.

  64. You are a woman of grace and tact (this, on top of being a fabulous knitter and a terrific writer. Wow, how lucky can one woman get?). You know, if you have an idea who Those People are, you could, perhaps, print out today’s blog entry and mail it to them… Just a suggestion. ;o)

  65. By “the meaning of Christmas” and “Christmassy songs” I’m sure they meant something along the lines of Here Comes Santa Claus. You know, with his bag full of toys for all the girls and boys. Nothing about peace on earth, forget about goodwill to men…
    Congrats to Sam on her triumphs, too bad not everyone had/has the opportunity to attend such a wonderful, multicultural school!

  66. Great restraint Steph. Granted most people wouldn’t have been able to do that. Me being one of them. So did you finish the sock. Or did you bend the needle trying to restrain yourself.
    Okay I think the concert was songs from around the world. Representing different cultures. If I remember correctly Christianty is not a culture but a religion. I don’t think they did the Charge of the Goddess or WE all come from the Goddess either. Why because they are religious songs. They did songs representing different cultures not different religions. Say it with me Different cultures. Okay now breath. Here in the US you can celebrate Christmas but you also should be respectful to other peoples holidays as well. December isn’t just the month that has Christmas it has alot of religious holidays all around the same time. We are a diverse world with different paths.
    Happy Holidays and Merry Yule to all

  67. Two of my own favorite comments akin to these include:
    (of a Haitian group, in their native language) Wow. They suck. I don’t understand a word they’re saying.
    and (of me, since we all know that knitting needles cause deafness)
    Holy **** – she’s not even looking! And those are the smallest F***in needles I’ve ever seen? What the **** is wrong with her???
    Ah. The public. It’s no wonder I’d rather stay home and knit most days.
    (by the way, if you’re thinking of seeing King Kong, you’ll be much happier if you simply shove knitting needles into your eyeballs for three hours instead)

  68. My son was in a school concert last night too, and as I was reading your post I was thinking, go talk to his music teacher, wouldja… In our likewise very diverse, international community here, most of the kids were not, I’m guessing, Christians, and although we are, I squirmed a bit as they sang. It just wasn’t fair to them. But now I’m realizing: the songs sung were not overtly Jesus-oriented, but rather every one was peace and brotherhood of man-oriented. Hey! Why didn’t I see that till I read your post? You just made me more tolerant of the music teacher–maybe he had more sense than I’d thought. Thank you, Stephanie!
    As for the guy who was sitting behind us, when he sang along offkey and talked back constantly at the singers and the teacher onstage, I did turn around and give him just enough of The Look that every kid knows well that he finally shut up. Can I have patience like you when I grow up? I hope?

  69. You freakin’ rock my hand knit socks right the hell off. Go you. Your kids are so incredibly lucky to have you for their mother.
    I’m suddenly feeling more positive about this season than I have in ages. Possibly even years. Way beyond the fantastic tales of knitting and fibery good times, you give me hope that there are people in the world who think and feel and live the way I hope to. Sometimes, it’s really difficult to be a cynic around you.
    What a wonderful feeling. 🙂

  70. Our five-year-old came home from her school here in England a month ago and said, “Did you know that Christmas is when Christians celebrate the birth of Christ?” and things just got more Christmassy from there. No Frosty the Snowman here — their concert was all baby Jesus, all the time. I tell them it’s good to know these stories, and that we can have a tree and presents and a nice dinner even if we’re not Christians. I’m not sure what all the Muslim moms in headscarves tell their kids!

  71. I’m Catholic (sort of, and I really do love the songs), but am constantly dumbfounded by so-called Christians who are so narrow-minded and intolerant that they cannot accept that there is more than one view of the world and that everyone should be free to worship (or not) as they feel they should. So please, don’t come to my door to “save” me, ‘cos I’ll let my big barky dog answer it! Back to knitting. Gotta put the faces on the felted handpuppets.

  72. Stephanie,
    Bravo! You should be proud of your children’s accomplishments and pissed at the idiots who do not understand that a December school concert is an effort to bring all together to celebrate our children and not necessarily a specific occassion. Yes they are often holiday-centric but it looks like the school Sam goes to is similar to the one my kids attend in NYC. I thought that my kids’ school was the only one in the world that managed to put of a winter concert without any mention of a holiday. I’ve always thought that was really cool and now I know that they are not alone.
    Good luck with the holiday knitting.

  73. Our kids’ concert was on Wed, “Christmas around The World”. I thoroughly enjoyed it! Learned new and interesting things about the way other cultures celebrate the Holidays (is that politically correct enough?). And my deepest apologies for the need to voice my 5 cents worth, but Catholics are probably least tolerant and open-minded. Probably why their numbers are dwindling ever more.

  74. Such a talented kid, and such a remarkably restrained mom.
    Here in the US the Christians are persecuted. I know this because some of them have mentioned it several times. You might wonder how adherents of a religion espoused by 85 percent of the population and virtually every member of the ruling party can be persecuted, but if they say so.
    To be fair, I know that this is probably not the majority view, just a really loud one.
    Deep breath. Peace, everyone.

  75. Oi! That was not the time for restraint.. I would have at least asked them to please be quiet as they were disturbing my enjoyment of the show…
    Super cool for Sam! Isn’t the french horn like. hard to play?
    It’s one I would think would be hard to play.. I am odviously a wimp and Sam is not..
    My monkey still does not have a head. But, the dog has all it’s parts just not sewn up! I sure am glad they are out of town over Christmas!
    and Cat… Recently, our political leaders seem intent on revoking that concept. More of us need to speak up, more often and more loudly, before that happens…. let’s not go the other direction completely either? Please? It seems Toronto, and Stephanie.. have struck a nice balance. It sure would be nice if we could have seperate funding and schools here if we choose.

  76. You tell ’em Stephanie (and the others of us who believe in pluralism, multicultural diversity and respect for the beliefs of others)!
    It’s incredibly awkward at times to have people look askance when I tell them I am not a christian (although I was raised a Roman Catholic)and celebrate christmas simply for the spirit of love, peace and giving it’s supposed to represent – not for any blinking fairy tale of a baby born to a woman who was married but still a virgin to her husband and accepted by that patient and obviously cuckolded man. But, hey, times were different then…
    At any rate, thanks for saying something that needed saying. I am glad to see there are many who agree with us.

  77. Heck yes, Stephanie. Thanks for the breath of fresh air. I keep wishing someone would remind the folks up in arms about the designation of decorated blue spruces as “holiday trees” that the druids had them first. Honestly, people…CHILL.

  78. It seems like some of the most intolerant, racist and otherwise unpleasant people I know are so-called “Christians”. Unfortunately, I’m even related to a couple of them.

  79. Thank you, Stephanie!! Because of your restraint, there is today that much more peace in our world!!!! Would that governments follow your example!!!!
    As a commited Catholic, I follow the Church Year faithfully… ergo: according to the RCC (and maybe other Christian churches) the Christmas season ends on FEBURARY 2!!!!!!!! TAH!!DAH!!! That’s 40 days after the birth of Jesus (whenever that really was) when his good Jewish parents presented him, their first-born son, to the High Priest in keeping with the Law of Israel…
    So begone IT … there are 5 weeks left for finish Christmas knitting!!! peace to all!

  80. I wish we had that kind of diversity in my white bread community. In its absence, we must teach our kids not just tolerance, but appreciation of world cultures.
    If everyone actually practiced what their prophets set out to teach, we would live in a much more peaceful world.

  81. I am a white (very white) looking Puerto Rican from a multiracial family. Because of the way I look I have been let in on the most f–ked up conversations imaginable. The latest one was at a girls’ night out. I’m trying to have a baby and one of the women said congratulations, she was so happy, the world desparately needs more white babies in the world because “those people” were overpopulating the world at such a rate that white people were endangered.
    She wasn’t being funny.
    After 43 years of letting folks like this have it, I just sat back feeling tremendous pity for this woman, for all the friendships, joy and love her ignorance was going to cost her. And at that moment, I just let go of my own version of “those people” – the private racist. And I knew that the next time I let anyone have it, I would do so from a place of pity, not anger.

  82. In working with an organization that deals with world peace issues (and works in concert with other world peace organizations) it’s always stunningly sad to realize that people don’t look much beyond their own front door to world around them.
    I’ve been in this gig for almost seven years now, mostly in programs for international and intercultural education. I’ve learned that there will be those persons who will never, and I do mean *never*, move outside was is comfortable and safe for them. Even if it means living in ignorance, prejudices and being left behind in changing times.
    I’ll jump down from this soapbox before I continue blithering like an idiot.

  83. Gosh – it’s true that there are obnoxious parents all across this continent. I met a few of them this year at my own kids’ concert. They attend a religous school (not out of religious preference – it’s just that the public schools here are so bad I wouldn’t let them educate my dog) and so the program was very Christmasy but the kids were cute. My only problem is that I sat right in front of the headmistress and I couldn’t knit! By my count we have 14 more concerts to attend before it’s all over. Hope you survive the Christmas season.

  84. Thanks for a great post Stephanie. I’ve always been glad my kids grew up in a multicultural small town. When they were small, they equated cultural differences with a family, “If you go on Daddy Kits boat, Mama Ce has to bless the boat first”, at Jagdeeps, you can’t eat cow” and “at Kevin’s you can’t meat cause over there God doesn’t like it” and “if your at Mendeep’s and you’re a lady, its polite to wear a scarf on your hair”. One nice thing was with our last name being Brown, on the odd occasion when some fool referred to the kids around the neighbourhood as “brown”, the kids rolled around laughing, thinking how could someone be so blind as to mistake them for my kids. Whenever there was a celebration at school, all the Moms would make ethnic food, so we got roti, Phillipine style noodles, cedar smoked salmon and all the rest. To this day religious and cultural differences to my kids means that their rules and manners adjust when they are at someone else’s house.
    Barb B

  85. Way to say it, Steph. Yes, Christmas brings out the worst in people…horrible, isn’t it? Never has there been a time when I’ve been shoved, elbowed, kicked, glared at, etc., so often in a single day…plus the comments and the grumbling to go with it.
    When my son was 2, I wanted to buy him a toy available at the supergreatmart at 6 a.m. So I stood waiting with about 30 people for the unveiling of this toy…you would have thought these toys were the last crumb of bread on this earth, because there was such a frenzy to get them, and people would run away with wild looks in their eyes, their hair standing in all directions, shouting to a mate nearby “I got 3! I got 5! I think we can sell them to people who didn’t get any!” I got no toy…but I did get a black eye from a woman whose raucous and frenzied toy craze caused her to develop a condition that can only be dubbed Octopus Arms and lash out in every direction at anyone who even tried to look at the toy.
    So ended my experience at 6 a.m. shopping at the supergreatmart.
    Happy Holidays…no matter what holidays you celebrate.

  86. I am a middle school teacher (not music) and every year I am asked the same question (though from different point of views). Why are we singing/playing this song for the winter concert, it is a Christian/non-Christian song? Irregardless of whether I have a secular little fireball asking or a religious little fireball asking, I respond the same way. My understanding is that secular-focused holiday songs are fine like Frosty the Snowman or the Driedal Song but that religious holiday songs, like Silent Night, are questionable because it is not fair to ask someone to sing a religious song that is not of their faith and it is better to err in favor of kindness.
    Of course, some of the same little religious fireballs who complained that they can’t sing Three Wise Men and Silent Night at school have had tirades on how scientists are trying to kill God, the non-existance of dinosaurs and honestly believed that Catholics are not Christians. Ignorance is at least entertaining.

  87. I think i would have made one sweeping comment to them as i was leaving. Those people behind you probably don’t understand that there are other things going on right now that aren’t christmas related. 🙁

  88. SO much appreciate your comments. Getting scary here in the states, and like to think of you guys as being a little more enlightened. Gift knitting total so far: Plied & spun 1/2 lb. each 4 different yarns for fabulous & adorable girlfriend of son who loves to knit! Three scarves for good friends. One hat for other son’s girlfriend. Scarf for daughter. Up before 6:00 am Mon. to knit a chunky yarn gift bag before work for gift exchange (done just in time to not be late). Working on socks for hubby, he has extra long feet, using extra small needle, only when he’s not around, will never do this again!! About 3/4 one sock done, this will be the challenge. One varigated,leftover yarn triangle shawl about 1/3 done. Happy Holidays of whatever ilk you prefer for having peace & parties!!!

  89. How much more Canadian can you get than a celebration of the people of the world? We are the people of the world. We should be celebrating the heritages of our families and sharing them with each other. To me, Christmas is about love, hope, peace, joy, and SHARING! The event you attended seemed to embody the meaning of Christmas in a way that many communities can’t seem to get a grip on. I say, Hallelujah!
    Even if you’re behind in your holiday knitting, you’re ahead of me. I am not knitting anything as gifts specifically for Christmas. Nada. But we’re not doing a whole lot in the way of gifts this year. Everyone just wants to be together, eat and be merry.

  90. Tap dancing with happiness. Wishing you BIG pieces of cake, rugelach, barfi, and other goodies from around the world! Wow! You go girl!
    Yes, yes, yes!!!
    Let’s all celebrate all our joys and diversities.
    Stephanie, thanks for one of my best Christmas smiles! Good luck with the knitting.

  91. Peace to you, too, YH! If the program doesn’t bear the title, “Christmas Concert”, then I agree that one shouldn’t expect Christmas music! However, I am relieved that when my DS was in high school, the choir performed “The Hallellujah Chorus” from Handel’s “Messiah” and no one got excited! (And yes, he was *the best* bass baritone of the group!)
    Meanwhile, I am lovin’ your latest book and share it with everyone I run into! Bravo!

  92. Oh now if only American schools had seperation of church and state, then the choir wouldn’t be able to sing O holy night whilst tromping on the beliefs of half their members.

  93. Just consider it a bonus for the kids who had to perform — I suffered through 7 years in jr. high and high school playing the same cycle of 8 Christmas songs every October-December (Yes, one hour of junior high band Christmas music every day for almost two full months — would drive anyone to seek therapy later in life). It sounds like Sam & anonymous blurred co-students got to have fun in rehearsal, and maybe even learned something about the world.
    Boycotting Christmas knitting this year. Decided to make it an every other year thing, since — as everyone knows — it’s all or nothing, and you can’t just knit for a few people this year, and then different people next year. (Meanwhile, I’m secretely breaking the boycott by producing New Year’s gifts, but that’s a loophole, right?)

  94. I do understand what you’re saying, but somehow it seems a little awkward that something that was meant to be so inclusive almost sounds a bit exclusive. I hope the Christian children at the school don’t feel their religion is “spiritually incorrect” because they’re in the minority in the school, city, country, world, etc. Or that the only place they should be celebrating their traditions is outside of the school so as not to offend. I don’t know, sometimes PC behaviour misses the mark.
    All the same, Merry Christmas and happy knitting!

  95. Ok, I don’t normally comment on your musings, I usually smile or laugh and go on with my day saying something like “that Steph sure can write” to myself BUT today your entry reminds me of something I heard resently. It was a Lost (my fav show) podcast and one of the writters is Canadian. They were talking about Thanksgiving Day. This day EVERYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD is actually known as Thursday. Oh my, the egos we have to assume one follows our own (USA) personal line of thought or reasoning. Americans are so egocentric and it is sounding like there are some Canadians that share that dispicable point of view.
    I like Christmas too though,

  96. Some people!! I just don’t understand how people can think like that anymore, and I’m not sure I want to understand. I’m sure it was a lovely night 🙂

  97. It always amazes me when people who CHOOSE to live in multicultural areas react like those idiots. I have always deliberately lived in such areas because I didn’t want my children growing up thinking that everyone was just like them & that anyone who wasn’t like them wasn’t worth knowing. The schools they went to celebrated the holidays of all the students (& even sometimes holidays of cultures that were not represented). I am an atheist who was raised as a Catholic & believe me, in my experience, there are plenty of Catholics who are very narrow minded & exclusionary (altho probably not as many as those of the evangelical, born again persuasion). And, even in our local high school (which prides itself on being diverse & tolerant of all beliefs), my older daughter was asked on a test to compare a story they had read for an English assignment to the story of Adam & Eve. Of course she was unable to do so &, when she explained to the teacher (an Irish-American Catholic) that we are not theists, he computed her grade by ignoring that question. Still I was most unhappy with the incident.

  98. I admire Sam and her musical gifts! The french horn was always something I was taken with (I think my love of it’s sound started with Christmas music, actually) but it wasn’t offered in the band because it was too difficult for young students to master. Sounds like she is a force to be reckoned with – congrats to her!
    I am also thankful to read your thoughts and know that I am not alone (I skimmed the comments and am feel even less alone) in my thoughts about this season. Jon Stewart (Daily Show) and Steven Colbert (Colbert Report, both on Comedy Central in the US) have provided my family with plenty of one-liners to help get our points across.
    Christmas knitting? I thought I’d (foolishly?) get a few ornaments knitted up, but my guage attempts for palm-sized sweaters has been laughable. A scarf that my 18 year old brother asked for (and will get because, well, he’s 18 and he *asked* for a handknit scarf) was waiting on his first choice of college’s decision; if it was good news it was going to be one color scheme (school colors) and if not then I was going to stick with the original plan. Yesterday I learned I have to go with the original plan.

  99. French horn is awesome! (I’ve played it for about 6 years.)
    You rock; it must be hard to see that level of intolerance and still keep a civil tongue–I know I could never.

  100. My daughter’s Christmas concert was titled “Celebration!” and one of the grades sang songs about birthdays. The other daughter’s daycare doesn’t acknowledge any of the kid-centred “holidays” at all. At some point, these two extremes have to be reconciled. For now, we’re stuck with basically a music-teacher-organized concert to fill the “Christmas” void (why not have it some other LESS HECTIC time of year please if it’s not geared to Christmas then? I could have used that night for focussed knitting!) or a true void where parents discreetly leave Christmas baking as a thank you to daycare workers (but not to be seen or shared with the kids). I really don’t like either. Surely there’s a happy medium? I wouldn’t waste your comments on one forum though, Steph. I’d communicate it to the Principal, and to the Parent Advisory Council or whomever organized the concert. Perhaps they could add an explanation in the program, and do an announcement part way through, explaining the make-up of the school’s students, and that the students prefer it this way or something. No need to stay silent on something that won’t change without communication. Except out of politeness.

  101. I am so happy to hear someone say that there is a separation of church and state in Canada. I am a firm supporter of it and here in the states it is barely followed. My town is full of people like that women and sometimes I cant keep my mouth shut with so many of them. 🙂 I told my husband that if it wasnt so cold thre in the winter we would be moving. Haha you never know. They may put another idiot up for president here and I will have to move. 🙂 Sorry If I step on anyones toes, its just my opinion. You are entitled to yours too 🙂

  102. My goodness! Are you joining the “War on Christmas”? LOL! I guess in some strange way, I’m glad to see that it’s not just US citizens that are so silly about “the meaning of Christmas”, etc. But really, it’s very sad. It appears that there’s only one way to think, and if you’re not following along, you are walking a path of secular sin.

  103. As satisfiying as it would have been to say something to those ignorant people, you set a good example of tolerance by not saying anything. I can only hope that some how the message gets through.

  104. Thank you for being so sane (and good for you for being so respectful of your children).
    Congrats to Sam! She sounds like a brilliant child.

  105. A couple things:
    1-Since you are a Canadian, English may not be your first language, so I will give you the benefit of the doubt. However, there is a glaring grammatical error in your first sentence. I’m surprised that an Author of a BookBookBook could actually write such a sentence.
    2-I love how you are all for diversity and inclusiveness. I’m thinking back to your post about your travels to the American South. At that time, you seemed perfectly comfortable stereotyping and making (subtle) fun of an entire region of people.
    3-In reading your blog, I’ve picked up on quite a bit of anti-Americanism. Is that attitude part of your acceptance of multi-culturalism? Or does that only extend to your “multicultural neighbourhood in a multi-cultural city”….wherever that may be?

  106. Sorry, One more thing. In the USA we are not allowed to teach evolution with out teaching the new version of creationism in class rooms. This was one mans way of dealing with it, and he got sympathy from school board members.
    The nex time you hear people complaining about respecting other religions remind them it could be worse. Their children could have to learn about flying spaghetti monsters.

  107. APPLAUSE!!! Well said, Stephanie! I know restraint is a good thing, but part of me *so* wishes you had said it out loud to that mo fo, tho. Teach him a thing or two.

  108. Steph, I must once again raise your name for sainthood consideration with the amount of patience you showed last night. I would have been over the back of the chair.
    Now I have to go clean my house for my birthday shindig, in which I will probably impale myself or someone else on knitting needles after imbibing one too many glasses of wine. Fun times! 😀

  109. I understand what you were saying about the people behind you but have you noticed how much anger or hostility it has released in the comments? Most are saying you were great and talking about how bad those “other people” were. How can so many claim to be open and inclusive and still have their own “other people” to rail against.
    BTW – I have probably made that same kind of stupid comment at concerts at this time of year “not very Christmasy”. This is because I am kind of ditzy not exlusionary. I celebrate the Solstice and my daughter is a pagan high priestess. I consider myself a citizen of the world but I don’t live in a multi-cutural neighborhood in a multi-cutural city. I don’t know why I expect Christmas concerts this time of year – maybe because I have heard them all my life. I have only been celebrating the Solstice for about 10 years.

  110. Well said Stephanie!! I live in the Buckle of the Bible Belt (the deep,deep American south) and my daughter’s 6th grade holiday chorus concert had African and Hannukkah songs, as well as some secular (and even one vaguely religious) Christmas songs. We’re not as backward here as I had feared! I’d have had to smack the commenters, though…

  111. Dearest Yarn Harlot (or anyone else out there),
    Any advise on a failed project? I’ve worked 6 months on a bag and I finally finished it tonight and felted it (the felting turned out ok) and I hate it. The straps are too long, and in the wrong place, you can hardly see the novelty yarn, and it looks like my 8 year old sister made it. Btw, it’s only my 4th project. Any suggestions? I want to just throw it out.

  112. Give it to Goodwill. Someone will like it. Someone will find a use for it.
    And you won’t feel so bad.

  113. No, the bible doesn’t say that we should love other people the way they are. It says we are to love other people as we love ourselves. Not exactly the same thing.

  114. I do admire your commitment to good manners! I think I’d probably have told them to shut up because they were making it hard to hear the kids.
    It makes me wonder why people who want their kids (and everybody else’s kids) to be just like them have enrolled their children in a multicultural school, when they had other (free) options available. What a contradiction! It also makes me grateful for our experiences in our local public school, where the staff works hard to show our (mostly white middle-class) kids that there’s a much bigger, more diverse, very interesting world waiting for them.
    I have to go back to the scarf . . . aaahhhh . . .

  115. Have never posted before, but just had to this time. I’m a recovering Catholic and while I love the Catholic traditions, I’m also thrilled by all the other celebrations at this time of year. My favorite being the Winter Solstice. Let’s celebrate ’em all! Now back to the legwarmers. Wondering if I can get away with one being a little shorter. Doubt it!

  116. Whew, that’s a relief, I thought all the assholes were living in the US. Sorry that you guys have to deal with them too. The really unfortunate thing is that obviously they are breeding. Perhaps their children’s experience in such a cosmopolitan school envirnonment, will teach them the limits of their own parents.

  117. I think that the worst part would be that they talked through the entire concert. Not to mention that they said awful, ignorant things. I hate it when someone talks incessantly in a show. It is so distracting and made worse by stupidity.

  118. ROCK ON! I hate with a passion when people talk during a performance of any kind! Agh! *shakes fist*

  119. AMEN!
    PC version: You are correct!
    Texas version: Yes Ma’am, you are right!
    Sisterhood version: You go girl!

  120. God and Goddess love you, darlin’– I work in a high school apparently as ethnically diverse as yours (although mine is on the other side of the continent–Nor-Cal to be exact) and I was so pleased when our “Christmas Rally” featured an African Tribal dance, the Punjabi Dancers, and a rap in Spanish, among other celebrations of diverse cultures… and I agree with the other post who said “I’m glad not all of the a$$holes live in the United States.” I was starting to believe we had a corner on the market of ignorant people who believe you haved to be white and Christian to live in North America… now that’s one export we in the US would be happy to ship to Antartica…

  121. Hopefully the next time someone acts so offensively, you can turn around and quietly ask them to quit talking. Then we can be spared the passive-aggressive ranting. You were mad at yourself for not saying anything, weren’t you?
    When prayer was taken out of schools here in the States I was all for it. Now I’m thinking that the ‘PC’ pendulum has swung way to far the other way. Although it would seem only reasonable to expect that a performance scheduled during the Christmas season would include a Christmas song–regardless of the title of the show–we must now go out of our way to exclude any mention of Christmas or Christianity. Many schools now seem to be pretending that the two don’t exist, all for the sake of not offending someone, even though it surely does.
    Just for the record, I don’t attend church and have no religious affiliation. But in reading the comments I was struck by the irony of some writers patting themselves on the back for being so tolerant and loving, all the while bashing others who they view as intolerant.

  122. I just love that they learnt Maori stick games at a Canadian school!I’m off to roll up some newspapers into sticks and play them with my kids – who learnt them as part of the curriculum in NZ.
    Happy Holidays!

  123. WTG Stephanie! I myself am Christian, and it’s my belief that you love people for who they are, not who you want people to be, and stick your snobby noses up at all others who are not like you. There are wonderful, wonderful people all over the world, and we all have one thing in coommon, we are all human beings. It irritates the c**p out of me when immature adults act like that!

  124. Hey, I’ve got an idea! Let’s discuss whether or not quilts were used as signals for the Underground Railroad!

  125. It’s the same people who see you knitting a sock, give you a sad look, and tell you they know somebody knitted something really neat (a WHOLE dress .. a blanket .. coats for the entire family). And it wonderful for you to notice how superior your child is. I feel the same way.

  126. Oh Stephanie, thank you. My mother fought that battle some 30 years ago, not wanting her kids to a)sing about the little lord Jesus in the public schools; and b) not wanting her kids to be left out of musical events. So this year — the 21st century — the same battle was fought, and lost, by some parents at a local elementary school. This area is appallingly un-diverse, something celebrated locally by folks who say, in a sort of code, that this is a “really good place to raise kids.” A friend of mine was the only Christian to support a number of Jewish parents asking only that overtly religious songs not be sung by the elementary school choir. The (public) school ignored them. She was the one who said to me, when I was interviewing here for the job and EVERYONE said to me that “this is a good place to raise kids” (ignoring the fact that I was a single, child-less 40 something), that she didn’t think it was any kind of advantage for her kids to grow up in an area without any cultural diversity. So my thanks (again) to her, and to you.

  127. All reasons why I enjoy my pagan roots. Generally, a more receptive bunch. And ‘tolerance’ isn’t a good word either ~ it just means you’re putting up w/ someone. Acceptance is better and a spiritual practice in itself.

  128. Stephanie, you are an inspiriation!!! I went to a yarn store yesterday to get yarn for a scarf and another pair of socks to knit for Christmas (well, maybe 2 prs of socks(big yarn) and 2 scarves…)I always swear not to knit for Christmas then about Dec 1 I start knitting like a fiend. I also swear not to bake but that starts tomorrow and includes dog biscuits……Luckily I’m not too busy at work and if I lean over my desk like I have a headache I can knit a bit……AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Happy Holidays to all – Jamie

  129. Patsy,
    Why on Earth would you expect a Christmas song at a concert in December? Do you expect Passover songs at an April concert? No, of course not.
    The faculty who lead these concerts and plays choose the theme or play and rightfully so, they put in a great deal of work. However, if they DO choose a Christmas or Holiday theme, there is an obligation to recognize that not all of their students share the same background (religious or ethnic) and to not put their students in a position that makes them uncomfortable.
    You may be annoyed that there are no Christmas songs but that annoyance is nothing to the extreme discomfort of asking a young Jew, Hindu or Muslim to sing a song praising baby Jesus. Furthermore, you are the adult and all adults should do their best to avoid hurting children needlessly.

  130. The idea of a Music of the World concert is great, and the “nice” couple apparently missed the purpose of the concert completely. On the other hand, none of my non-Christian friends were ever offended by hearinf Silent Night or others of the traditional Christmas songs, which are actually quite maginificent music. Not being a firm believer myself, I still enjoy these works of music (a s do my friends) and also enjoy other religous music from around the world. One can’t deny that history and music is in most parts of the world (including the western tradition) firmly connected to religion (one might say unfortunately so).
    And, as someone already commented, Christmas is orginally a very old tradition preceding Christianity, and celebrates the fact that the longest night of the year has passed. It is good to keep a tradition and take a few days to celebrate with family (whatever you want to celebrate) and be merry and share gifts.
    cheers, Petra

  131. Shaphanie, Thanks for saying the things that NEED to be said; I for one am tired of hearing supposedly tolerant Canadians rant about how Christian Canadians were here first and these immigrant cultures should learn how to fit in. If you want to look at a time-line Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddists etc. are only a blip on North America’s history; Native North American culture has been around for thousands of years; they are, in all their variations, the original people of faith here. The upshot is everyone’s culture and faith is valid and I think a society that embraces all these races, cultures, and faiths is infinatley more interesting, stimulating, and exciting. Multiculturalism is really one of Canada’s most wonderful assets!

  132. “Why don’t these people get their own show?”
    Uh…isn’t that what the “Songs from Around the World” concert was? Sheesh! The ‘weenie’ must have relatives in town for the holidays. You were much more restrained than I would be–must be the wonderful performance by Sam and the sock-knitting!
    Still working on an afghan/lap blanket in bulky yarn–’bout half done–will panic Wednesday.
    Merry! Merry! to Everyone! and hope your knitting all gets done! :^p

  133. I tried very hard not to leave a comment. But here:
    I suspect that the strong feelings on the comments are not because we are a bunch of diversity-is-great-except-when-it-is-Christian haters. I suspect it is because we feel overwhelmed by an entitlement push toward taking over the public face of Christmas. Many people have been accosted by well meaning proselytizers so often that we are pretty cranky about the whole thing by now.
    I’m really encouraged by all the Christians who seem to see this who have posted here. I sometimes fear that there are way more people interested in seeing our differences than our similarities. When I’m drawn to Christianity it is because I have met a kind Christian who professes their faith but leaves it at that.
    Blessed Be.
    Oh and to throw in some knitting news I’m totally locked up and I can’t get any projects done. I’m like a deer in headlights. sigh.

  134. You go, girl!! Although I truly miss the old public school christmas concerts of my youth, when nearly everyone in my small town was christian of some sort, I agree 100% with your comments. My daughter also attended an elementary school where the native English speaking American kids were in the minority. She is now one of the most open minded and tolerant people that I know. I find that groups/individuals other than Catholics “dis” the lack of Christmas in the schools. The letters to the editors here in the US about getting rid of “Happy Holidays” and restoring “Merry Christmas” are shortsighted, I find. Actually, this time of year and the holiday aren’t even Christian! The old pagans had a celebration of lights, evergreens around the Solstice and the christians adopted that holiday as the celebration of Christ’s birth! I love the fact that so many faiths and traditions have celebrations of light, life and conquest of darkness at this time of year. I say bring on all of the holidays of light and let’s celebrate them together, each in our own tradition, acknowledging our common humanity!

  135. I know the Canadians don’t get the Daily Show or the Colbert Report up north, but Colbert’s mock take up of the War on Christmas has been hysterical.
    Last week he ‘discovered’ that the root of holiday is “holy day” and decided to change his focus to combating the terrible slight to the holidays dealt by the foolish focus on Christmas alone.
    Da dum dum.
    The bulk of this post seems to me to focus on a particularly rude and offensive pair of people – speaking during a performance, espousing views that strike me as frankly racist and making assumptions based on their own belief system rather than on the stated program – not on Christians or Christmas in general or specific.
    We all judge – the behavior of others, and yes, their beliefs and values too – in agreeing or disagreeing with the words of anyone. Just part of the human experience. The goal is, I think, to make sure everyone has room to be themselves – without limiting the existance of others. Most particularly children who may not yet have the confidence to assert themselves in the face of those who’ve forgotten respect or civility in the expression of their ideas.
    So yeah, I don’t think there is any problem condemning anyone who uses the words “those people” to describe their neighbors. It’s code – and not subtle code – for “those who are unlike and of less worth than I”. Not much respect or civility there.

  136. I brought my 12-yo daughter down to read some of the comments; especially those related to Christmas, evolution and the separation of Church and State. Then I explained to her what each of those events/concepts is. I then had her look up “diversity” in the Webster’s and pointed out comments made here that were meant to be diverse and accepting. See, as a Christian mother I believe it’s important for her to understand the difficulties her father and I have with the liberal/political correct population. Thanks for making my job easier!
    I really enjoy the knitting part of this blog…. the other stuff, the stuff I am trying to get away from when I knit, is just tiring.

  137. I enjoy reading your blog very much, though I have never posted before today because I�m a deeply mediocre and often dumb knitter, hence the lurk-only policy; however, I�m also a doctoral student in the study South Asian Religion at a fancy American University, which means that I have thought a lot about Religion and have a lot of time on my hands. In an effort to soothe rumpled feathers all round, I offer this:
    While the temptation for ideological rants and sniping is strong on both sides of the fence, the issue, unglamorously enough, is really one of form and content. Would I knit, say, that fabulous Honeymoon Camisole of Knitty days gone by in Debbie Bliss Chunky Cashmerino? Dumb knitter though I may be, probably not. The content (yarn) is not appropriate to the form (pattern). Similarly, the timing of the Winter Concert, like it or not, coincides with the single most important holiday of the festival-impoverished Christian liturgical cycle (really�Easter is the only competition). The form � in this case, the date of the Winter Concert � creates an understandable expectation, particularly for Christians, that it will be filled with appropriate content � Christian-specific seasonal tunes. And the fact is there are no major Hindu festivals in the month of December; the Islamic calendar is lunar and unfixed, which means that absolutely every single one of its major holidays move back about ten days every year, and therefore have no association with any month of the year, December included; and while it is in December, Hanukkah is not central in Judaism in the way that Christmas is for Christians. Why should children from these traditions roll out their diversity on the Christian watch? It�s like asking Christian children to participate in a pageant in July.
    The opinions of the possibly somewhat thoughtless people sitting behind you, as well as your reaction, actually place both of you squarely in the inevitable mess that results from honest attempts to keep public education secular. The situation is a little schizophrenic, and prompts varying levels of craziness in different, otherwise possibly sane and nice people. I think your daughter�s school�s solution to the problem of honoring diversity in an historically Judeo-Christian-dominated culture is probably the best that can be hoped for given the tremendously complicated world we live in the urban secular west, where, for example, a high school concert can prompt so much anger all round.

  138. “Sorry, One more thing. In the USA we are not allowed to teach evolution with out teaching the new version of creationism in class rooms.”
    Posted by: Rebecca at December 17, 2005 04:39 PM
    Wow, that is so not true, at least everywhere in the US besides Kansas City. Can you back that up with facts please? I just don’t want the rest of the world thinking americans are a bunch of idiots….oh wait, they already think that.

  139. I was raised in a Christian home as my Father is a minister. We had our share of disagreements over beliefs and cultural diversities, but, looking back on those times, I didn’t grow to hate my father for what he stood for and I’m pretty positive that he didn’t think less of me for disagreeing with him from time to time.
    Maybe we all want to be right so badly that we forget that the other person wants to be right as well. Nothing gets accomplished by banging heads. My personal feeling is to live the way I believe and let the other person do the same. I certainly won’t think any less of them for it, and hope that I receive the same respect. I happily embrace all cultures and hope they will embrace mine as well. I will gladly sing their songs, and hope they will sing with me also.
    Whatever cultural group you belong to, and whatever you celebrate at this time of year, peace should be celebrated all year long.

  140. Well said! Congratulations on your wonderful talented children. The french horn is a wonderful instrument. Also, I appreciate your consideration of blurring other peoples’ children in photos. The internet can be a scary place. As for Christmas knitting…well I just finished LAST year’s sweater for my DH…

  141. Well said! I am a Christian, and I had many of these same thoughts as I saw all the fundamentalists going ape over stores saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. They need to get over themselves for a minute and enjoy the true spirit of the season.

  142. Carla,
    I actually thought the purpose of having band/choir concerts in December was necessity not religion. Performance is a key part of learning to sing or play an instrument and should be part of each semester’s study. You learn music to perform it. Music is something that is best learned without interruption. The two week break scheduled around Christmas in almost every school in North America would interrupt prepration for a January concert and, in general, the second semester begins late Jan./Feb. Therefore, the fall concert should be held in late November (ops.. there’s Thanksgiving here in the U.S.) or December.
    You asked why children should “roll out their diversity on the Christian watch?” This implies that they should roll up their diversity for December and pretend to be Christian? Isn’t that a little much to ask from a 5 year old or a 13 year old? Isn’t this about the children, all of them, and not parents?
    If you want your children to sing religious music, join your church’s choir but it is not acceptable to expect other people’s children to sing your religious songs. No more than it is acceptable to for me to insist that your children sing my religious songs in a public school.
    It is not about hating Christmas or Christians, it is simple consideration. You know.. do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
    Having said all of this… one of the gentlest ways that I can think of to have non-secular Christmas music in a public school program is to allow one or two solos or small groups who chose a religious song out of a selection offered. That way, it is the performers choice and not imposed upon them by adults.

  143. Lisa,
    Goodness. I am a bit shaken at the tone of your comment. While it is irrelevant to the perspective I was attempting to offer, I do feel it is useful to note that I am not Christian and I do not have children; some of my dearest friends are Hindu and Muslim and not native English speakers, and I have spent more time in the so-called third world than almost anyone I know who is not a diplomat or missionary. If you go back and read carefully, I hope you�ll see that I did not write anything that would suggest that I am a Christian advocating putting Christ back into the local school show. I was explaining what I saw as the real issue, taking historical and cultural actualities into account.
    I had never thought that a winter concert would happen in December because of rehearsal and preparation schedules. That�s a good point, actually somewhat in keeping with what I was trying to say about most things in our crazy world being shaped as much by physical constraints � form � as ideology. I do still think that given the history of Judeo-Christian dominance in the Americas, it is reasonable (and here I mean it makes sense, not that I think it is right) for Christians to expect to Christmas carols to be part of any winter concert program. Given the history, the fact that some Christians would expect Christmas songs make sense. That�s all.
    When I made that comment about the strangeness of rolling out different traditions at a winter concert, I do not think it necessarily follows that I was arguing that non-Christian children should be forced to sing �Christian� songs. Look back at what I wrote � I never said anything of the sort. I simply meant that it would be a strange experience for a Hindu child, for example, to present a song or dance associated with a holiday that falls in August.
    Perhaps I misread the urgency of your tone as anger. It�s difficult to tell with email. In any case, thanks for reading.

  144. Pointing out the bigotry and intolerance of others is neither intolerant nor hypocritical.
    Stephanie, you are a voice of reason amidst the cacophony of intolerance masquerading as religious persecution.

  145. The �separation between church and state� wasn�t always so� When I was growing up (also in Canada) we had to recite “The Lord’s Prayer” in class each morning. (Public, not Catholic school- as previously mentioned here in Ontario we have school systems for both). It was that, then the National Anthem. I remember the few non-Christian kids would leave the room for the prayer each morning, since it wasn’t a part of their religion and since their parents did not want them forced to participate, this was the offered-up solution. Stand in the hall for a few and wait. The coincidence that this was the same thing that kids had to do when misbehaving in class was not lost on me even then.
    I was baptized a Christian religion but never practiced anything but trying to be a decent human being. Thinking back on that as an adult, how upsetting it must have been to those kids to have to be singled out each morning as being “different.” As I got older I just didn’t recite and would quietly stand, once I realized it was an option. These same kids never participated in the annual Christmas concerts, for obvious reasons, but still, it added to their perceived �differentness� from the rest of the class.
    This type of school celebration makes me hopeful that there aren�t kids who are experiencing that in our classrooms today, regardless of their religious and cultural background. Children are children, regardless of their religious affiliations. They just want to be loved, fit in and enjoy themselves. I think as parents and adults, we should do whatever we can to make that possible for every kid. I have a 10-month-old son, and I hope he has the opportunity to learn to play Spanish songs or play a Maori stick game when he�s in school. I sure didn�t.
    Btw, I�m just thirty, so this Lord�s-Prayer-In-Public-School stuff wasn�t eons ago either.

  146. Amen!
    Way to go Sam! You are an exceptional well rounded young adult. Keep going you could be President, Prime Minister, but who really would want that job? You are doing well just as you are!
    This is Steph’s blog, I would say 95% is knitting related I also enjoy the other 5%. I look every day to see if something is posted, whether knitting or not. Some people are rude, the majority are not.

  147. All you guys are talking so much about peace, love, and understanding, but i don’t think you’re spreading all that by talking bad about these people and being angry at these people who were simply expecting to see something Christmas-y in a concert that happened to be on the 15th of December.
    And why are we labeling that couple Catholic or Christian or anything like that, maybe they were just a couple of people who were thinking there was going to be something pertaining to Christmas in the concert.
    also, why, if December 25th is ‘nothin but another day of the year’, then why does the whole “IT” even exist, if it’s just another day?

  148. I got the impression that the concert was about the different NATIONALITIES around the world. When did Christian become a nationality? Traditionally school terms’ end in December, just because Christmas is in December why should it be automatically assumed that an end-of-term concert is a celebration of Christmas?
    I applaud your remarkable restraint. I, too, am fed up. I wished an acquaintance – “a nice holiday” because I didn’t know if she were Christian, Jewish, or whatever. She turned around and told me to wish her a Merry Christmas. She said she felt insulted when wished a Happy Holiday. I got treated to a two-minute harangue about Christ in Christmas, etc. I told her that if Happy Holiday ticked her off, my next wish was going to really frost her gingerbread cookies. I told her to “Go to hell.” Wow that felt good.
    I’m almost finished my scarf. Last gift. Woohoo!

  149. I knew there was a reason I love you. A woman after my own heart. Though I applaud your restraint, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I couldn’t have blogged it better.
    You know what song I really hate this time of year? “Do They Know It’s Christmas” lamenting all those poor little deprived third world kids who don’t get to appreciate the full-blown greed and consumerism that marks this festive time of year. Why no, they don’t know it’s Christmas – because they’re Muslim, or Hindu, or Buddhist, or whatever… and they don’t really care.
    Kudos to your child’s school for mot makling their concert a religious event.

  150. Our school’s concert included songs from many nations too and it was lovely. There is so much I would like to say about this issue but won’t add to the fray. I agree with you whole-heartedly and am sorry you got so much controversy over your comments. Let it all roll off and keep knitting. I have 3 projects to go, 5 if I add my newest ideas to the mix. 2 are in progress and I don’t even have the correct yarn for the other 3. How does that happen? I have a room full of yarn yet don’t have what I need for what my family wants? Well, gosh, I guess I’ll have to make a run to the local yarn shop this week. What a sacrifice. So for a final word on this day’s comments: Go Stephanie.

  151. I agree with Carla. It sounds like a simple misunderstanding really. It was merely an expectation these people had that there would be a few Christmas songs in the program, which is not unlikely this time of year in the US (and, I would guess, Canada).
    Separation of Church and State (at least in the USA) means no forced religion on others; it does not mean surpressing the practice of one’s faith openly in public, even in a school environment. At least that’s the intent. In our local public school, they sing Christian songs (Amazing Grace, etc), and they don’t deny other faiths singing their songs if so desired.
    I don’t see the comment of “these people” as necessarily racist either. It may indeed have been, but it might not have been either. Those two words in and of themselves are not racist. There are many words they could have used that are indeed racist, but I didn’t see them in their comments.
    Their comment about the meaning of Christmas didn’t say anything about the people not being equal with them. The meaning of Christmas has to do with redemption and hope. Maybe that’s all they were seeking. Who knows? It’s hard to know a lot about these people from a few utterances.
    I’m sorry you didn’t approach them, Steph. If done politely and respectfully, you could have helped them if you discovered that they were misinformed. Maybe educated them. Along with your kids about how you feel on these things. I know you talk with your kids about this privately, but it’s good to show our kids to stick up for our values respectfully in public too.
    I appreciate your blog, Steph. And all of the commenters who share their thoughts with respect of others as well.

  152. Stephanie, I think you just coined my new favorite saying, “Watch your step, your racism is showing.”
    You’re great.

  153. Next time I think you should say all those things. Nicely, when they’ve complained a little while and you’ve got a point. But please please say them to ‘those people’ who sat behind you, or others who make similarly ignorant comments. Because while I agree with everything you say, and love your turn of phrase, I imagine there are a lot of us who come here precisely because we think the same way as you about lots of things. And you sound like one of the best people to point things out to some people who don’t.

  154. You’re my hero! I live in the Northern Adirondacks (just moved), and I can’t believe the things that people say sometimes. I’m from Trenton NJ where you can actually get punched for a racist comment, and It does my heart good to hear an intelligent rant from another strong woman. Bravo!!

  155. I work for a business where the phone rings quite frequently, we were asked to say something simular to Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas. I personally chose Happy Holidays, since there are several cultures in our area, I have had several people comment and say your supposed to say Merry Christmas. I can’t get over it, am I just that niave, or am I correct in thinking that not everyone is a Christian? Cuddos to you Steph, I would have probably given them several “looks.”

  156. So very, very, very well said. 🙂
    I like to remind myself, when the holiday buzz gets to be too deafening, that Christmas is just the winter solstice with some extra baggage. My tree is for Yule. My lights are for the return of the sun. My spiked eggnog is for Saturnalia. 😉

  157. Okay, I will be astonished if anyone sees a comment this far down, but I have two things to say:
    1) For Jacquie who is trying to have a baby and has decided to respond to appalling comments from a position of pity rather than of rage: I don’t know if I could, but wow. Your comment was incredibly moving.
    2) For everyone, an incident that happened to a colleague last week: she was shopping at a local, church-run (Episcopal) thrift store, and was surprised when the clerk wished her “happy holidays.” She responded with “Merry Christmas,” not to make a point, but just because that’s what came out. At which point another shopper said, “Good for you, dear, we need to keep more of Christ in Christmas.” And my colleague replied: “You know, if we kept more of Christ in Christmas, we wouldn’t be at war right now.”

  158. The thing that surprises me about the supposed “War on Christmas” is that folks have their panties in a bundle because the tree gets called “a holiday tree” instead of a “Christmas tree”. Or a clerk in a STORE wishes them “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. I would think that the true “war” on a religious holiday would be the gross commercialism of it and the greed associated with Christmas. (Folks who are offended because a charitable donation is made in their name in lieu of receiving a gift…) We have made this really holy season into a massive celebration of capitalism. (Not that I have a problem with capitalism, in general its a pretty good system, I just remember the story about Jesus being upset by commerce occurring in a temple.) I truly believe that God would find the whole argument amusing and ridiculous. (What does a tree, a fat guy in a red suit, or mounds of presents have to do with the birth of Christ anyway???) I don’t think He (or She) cares what your neighbor or government calls their tree, whether kids sing “Here Comes Santa Claus” at a school concert, or whether a well-intentioned clerk wishes you a happy holiday. As one poster mentioned above, at least they’re not telling you to go to Hades… I’m sure He, or She, would be happy to see you in church on the 25th (if you’re lucky enough to belong to a church that hasn’t canceled services on Christmas…I truly do not get that one…) and would most like you to be kind to your fellow man and remember that it’s not about how many cookies you bake, presents you buy or lights that you hang on your house. (Or even how much you knit, but we’re all driving ourselves crazy anyway…) It’s all about love and peace and acceptance. Or at least that’s what I got out of my Catholic upbringing. So, Happy Holidays everyone!

  159. I really liked all the discussion about the holiday/winter/christmas/etc. concerts. We knitters also think about other things as well and we aren’t afraid to make our voices heard!! Wonderful! Until I read Carla’s thoughtful comment, I thought that many cultures and religions (I recognize that these terms differ) had some type of celebration of light in the darkness of winter. I actually like celebrating Christmas as a season of conquering darkness with light, literally as well as metaphorically. I also like celebrating solstice, which is done in my husband’s meteorology department every year. One year we tried to celebrate hanukkah in our non-Jewish home, with lighting candles and devoting the time of the candle burning to family activity. It is no accident thatthe Christian Christmas falls near the solstice; the Christians re-labelled the former solstice/light celebrations and put the Christ’s birth celebration at the same time. A great marketing ploy; convert “those guys” but let them keep their holidays under a differnt name!! When the days are dark, I’m all for celebrating every light-related holiday possible! It’s our common humanity.
    As for schools, I sometimes wish that there were more study of religions and cultural traditions in the curriculum. Humans seem drawn to religious beliefs of some sort and our children tend to learn only those of their parents. I wish I had learned more about other religions and I wish I knew more about other religions as an adult.

  160. Hi Steph,
    I wonder why, if you feel you’re quite right in your sentiments, you thought they were capable of wrecking your kids’ night?
    Just saying. :o) Love your blog,

  161. wait.. the Catholic school is free??? I’m moving up there! FWIW- we attended a Christmas concert at my DS’s school on Friday… BUT it is a Catholic school and the concert was in the Church!

  162. It seems that the folks with a persecution complex have forgotten what real persecution/martyrdom/sacrifice is. I doubt anybody is in line for canonization because their holiday sensibilities were maligned by a lack of Christmas Carols. Remember the part where early Christians were torn apart by lions, or tortured and murdered for their beliefs (sound familiar?) Remember endless pogroms where Jews were slaughtered and entire towns burnt to the ground by well meaning Christians as a way to mark the Easter holiday? Remember the Crusades, and the sacking and looting of the holy land by both sides (an early foray into crass commercialism in the name of Jesus)?
    Criminy! No faith has a monopoly on good or evil. Shut up and sing the happy Christmas song, kid. Everyone else is.
    Back to me (because the Christmas holiday is all about me.) I sing in several choirs, and often sing grand sprawling Christian music full of Agnus Dei’s and loud Hosannas. Does it get my shorts in a bunch? No. Why? Because the director is cognizant of the large non-Christian makeup of the choir all of whom are of an age to decide for themselves whether this is something they want to do. The director says, “whether or not you believe what’s happening here, the person who wrote this piece most devoutly believed ___________. See if you can get the audience to feel the sincerity of the author’s belief.”
    Are children capable of compartmentalization of their beliefs in such a nuanced fashion? When you get a roomful of pre-schoolers together and have them sing “Jesus loves me, this I know…” is it because you want them to experience the fine music and author’s philosophy, or is it because you want to encourage them to believe that Jesus loves them, and here’s why, in a way that you can easily remember?
    I’m not saying a child shouldn’t be indoctrinated into a set of beliefs, but a public school is not the arena for choosing one religious canon over the other. Killing? Bad. Stealing? Bad. Cheating? Bad. Bullying? Bad. I would hope most everybody can agree on the above, and public schools are welcome to promulgate such ideas that transcend religion.
    Should public schools be a forum to extend the chauvanism that is the commercial Christian Christmas juggernaut. I would argue no.
    This is more of an observation than a wish to you all… Grumpy Holidays.

  163. As the Half-Roman Catholic/ Half-Russian Jew (he) I grew up with a Hanukkah Bush in my living room in December.
    Contrast to recently when I had to explain to the New Boy that just because something is a tradition doesn’t make it right and shut up and help me find the non-religious specific cards.
    I want to be as mature as you when I grow up (because I assure you I am MILES from being mature now… those people would have gotten SOMETHING from me)
    I hope IT doesn’t show it’s face for you or any of us in the next couple weeks. 😉

  164. I wouldn’t tell you what yarn to use or what pattern to knit, but we could respect one another just the same. I wouldn’t tell you how to spend the longest nights of the year.
    It’s sad when the message of “Love one another” is reconfigured each year to “Me First”.
    I’m enjoying this Christmas season through music- lots of concerts and choirs that we’re all involved in. Giving and sharing are more meaningful when we believe in the value of others.
    Carry on with your worthy comments. May we all knit a little peace into this world.

  165. Stephanie,
    I want to begin by thanking you for your blog and for your books. I thoroughly enjoy reading what you write and always look forward to your post. Reading about the antics of other knitters reminds me that
    I am normal.
    Secondly, I want to thank you for reminding people that there are other cultures that exist and should be celebrate. I agree that we should celebrate our differences which can sometimes remind us that we
    are more alike than we realize. I did want to point out though that as a Catholic, I was taken a back that the post labeled the ignorant people behind you as Catholic. If they were, then shame on them for failing their religion and their beliefs. I just think it would have
    been nice to see something in your post to solidify that they were Catholic (such as “As they exclaimed, ‘Jesus, Mary, and Joseph'”)
    otherwise it can come across as an assumption, and unintentionally offend some of your readers.
    Thank you for taking the time to read my comment, and I look forward to more of your post, including the ones that cause a stir and a ruckus. Also, congratulations on your manners and restraint. I hope that I can do the same in similar situations.
    Fellow Knitter,

  166. Dear Yarn Harlot
    I do agree you showed incredible restraint in not turning around and asking the idiots to keep quiet while you were enjoying your child’s hard work in the concert. I don’t really know of any public school that has a “christmas concert” any more. It’s always the “winter concert” to show off what the children have been working on during the quarter and to show their progress.
    By the way, I’ve knitted two pairs of socks with the Trekking yarn and I gave up trying to match them perfectly. I believe the yarn says to pull for one sock from the inside and the other from the outside – doesn’t work. I like the eclectic look anyway – they match close enough.
    Happy knitting!! I enjoy reading your blog every day.

  167. Amen sister! Preach on!! The true meaning of xmas, and this whole season, is “peace on earth and good will toward man”. Apperntly, they forgot that. Luckily, you didn’t, and kept the peace! Good job!!

  168. I commented right away when you posted, but have been thinking quite a bit about your post. What an amazing school your children go to! We are also very lucky to send our teenagers to a school that is very diverse and accepting of children of all faiths and cultures.
    My son, in particular, is very open to these differences. Many of his friends are Muslim and he likes to learn about other religions. He organized a petition asking the cafeteria to list if a particular entree had pork in it after one of his friends couldn’t eat his lunch because he found out there was pork in it after he had already purchased it. I have never been more proud of him when he took that petition to the principal and they honored it. Their history classes also contain lessons on the “religions of the world”. My kids loved it.
    I wish more schools were like this. Can you imagine what the world would be like if all our children (as well as adults) learned how to accept others’ differences?
    I know this has stirred up a lot of emotions, Stephanie, but I am really glad you posted this. You are an amazing woman and a wonderful mother.
    Blessed be,

  169. Just a quick note: For the record we do get the Daily Show and the Colbert Report up here. Thank god 🙂
    Oh and I actually laughed out loud at the suggestion that perhaps English wasn’t Steph’s mother tongue. Just becaue TAR has Americans running around Toronto looking for “la tour CN”, it doesn’t mean that we are all bilingual and speak French. Also to that same commenter, this is a BLOG. Stephanie doesn’t have to be grammatically perfect here if she choses not to be.

  170. Yuck. That must have been really uncomfortable, and I think you did a great job of not sinking to their level.
    I’m personally not a big fan of _forced_ secularization. I think that if you can represent the holidays of everyone in your community, there’s nothing wrong with mentioning Christmas. However, nobody should ever be forced to participate, and that representation has to be truly equal. Not “okay, the holiday pageant will have one Christmas carol and then the dreidel song”, but equal acknowledgement of each religion’s important holidays, not just the ones that happen to fall in December.
    My high school did a particularly good job of this, in my opinion. We were a pretty small, non-religious girl’s school, and we started the day with a short meeting, announcements, etc. Any time someone in the school was celebrating a religious or cultural holiday, they’d get up and tell the school about it: what it means, how it’s celebrated, etc. That was a really nice way to make sure that everybody was represented, and that everybody learned about other people’s beliefs.
    I don’t like _forced_ secularization (not allowing girls to wear their headscarves to school, for example) because it denys people their right to express their beliefs. However, I don’t believe that any school should have to institute that expression by putting on formal holiday celebrations. I think that shows like “Songs from Around the World” are a great way to celebrate the end of term.

  171. Really, if we weren’t all so anxious to display our children, this wouldn’t be such an issue!
    But seriously, both Canada and the US are free enough that you don’t have to participate, attend, listen or like what is being performed…isn’t that great?
    I am a Christian, my daughter is a performer, and I am free enough to let her participate in opera in Los Angeles…which is full of unwholesome themes… and I can handle it without criticizing the organizers, the performers and the opera lovers/haters. Knitting is one way to calm down and be in control, and even though I may not agree with everyone’s politics, I love that we all love great yarn!
    Let’s focus on what we have in common–not what drives us apart and the season will be much more peaceful!

  172. I think you were quoting the Declaration of Independence, not the bible…”and all people being equal.”
    Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    and another quotable gent…
    “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion.”
    Abraham Lincoln
    P.S. I grew up in East Texas, which actually IS the BAPTIST buckle on that big ole southern Bible Belt! In my small home town, the Baptists are against the Methodists, who feel superior to the Episcopalians, who are one step away from Catholic (otherwise known as “mexican voodoo”)(THEY LIGHT CANDLES Y’ALL!!) Not to mention the Jehovah’s Witness’s and The Mormans…and yet each of these different churches considers theirs to be “the one true religion.”
    However, my parents were some sort of strange hybrid of communist-hippie (mom) and redneck-atheist (dad), and consequently nobody ever thinks I am from there! (We did all the usual things, but my mom made sure I knew we were really celebrating “Happy Pagan Ritual”) My children grew up in the Dallas Independent School District, with 99 different languages (no, I’m not being facetious, that was all the reported languages.) Our particular neighborhood was all Jewish. We didn’t know this when we moved there. My little girl was just starting kindergarten, and the school had the usual “Fall Festival,” centered around the pumpkin harvest(?) then my thoughts moved on to the traditional Christmas crap, including the baking of sugar cookies cut out in little shapes of candy canes, Santa and his reindeer, etc… I looked in the grocery store, no cookie cutters…Tom Thumb, Albertsons, Minyard’s, nope, nope, nope. So, feeling kind of exasperated, I huffed my way up to the manager to ask, where are the CHRISTMAS COOKIE CUTTERS!?!? when a little old man shuffled his way in front of me and said,”Vhere are da CHanukkah candles?” Oooooh snap! My daughter and one other little boy were the only non-Jews and no stink was made when there was no Christmas celebration, we learned all about Hanukkah, the kids made menorahs and dreidels, etc. When in Rome, you know the rest…
    What I find really funny is my daughter is going to a Festivus party! Don’t tell me Southerners have no sense of humor…

  173. Stephanie, thank you for leaving the comments up. Although I don’t find this set of comments to be all that conflict-y, I guess they are for a knitting blog. But we need to actually talk about this stuff with people we disagree with! Otherwise we will just keep drifting further and further into our own little bubbles, only hearing those who say “right on” and never listening to those who say “okay, but…” Both Rush Limbaugh and Michael Moore thrive in those bubbles – that can’t be healthy!
    This is why I do my darnedest to explain to my grandmother why I would never vote against gay marriage, or to my young cousin why I am not insulted when he calls me a liberal. I fear that you did that couple no favors by remaining totally silent. At the very least they should have been shushed for speaking during a performance.

  174. I’m one of those people firmly on the Merry CHRISTMAS, CHRISTMAS tree side. Even though I am not religious, this is what I was brought up to, and is part of my (first generation immigrant German) culture. I live in a mostly Christian area, and we still tend to have Christmas concerts, composed mostly of crappy songs about reindeer and snowmen. I fully respect other people’s right to celebrate their own religious customs; in fact, most people could use a lot more exposure to other people’s religions. What I have a problem with is people, (mostly politicians, and usually not people of the other religions etc) telling me that my customs are offensive to other cultures. How having a holiday tree as opposed to a Christmas tree makes things less offensive I have yet to figure out. I also have yet to figure out why a Christmas tree, which is now considered strongly Christian, whatever its background, could be offensive at all.
    I am appalled at what Christmas has become, a huge commercial celebration of greed and garbage and gluttony. The garbage generated by Christmas, and the mass purchasing of trash every year will make anthropologists very happy in the future, but does little for us or our children. Maybe it’s time for us all to sit down and think a little about what we are celebrating, whether it be Christmas or Hanukah or Kwanzaa (please excuse the spellings), and a little less about further enriching the massive chains that have turned this time of year into the disaster it currently is.
    Regarding the concert, what did people think that a concert with “songs from around the world” would have? It was probably a lot better than some of the garbage I have seen over the years, and I too am counting the number of concerts I still have to go to in my life (2).
    Happy whatever to everyone

  175. Oh and Steph, if Sam ever wants to learn to spin poi (another fine Maori tradition), I’ll teach her 🙂
    ps — and I mean the unlit kind! 😉

  176. Wow!! All those different cultures in your child’s school. It sounds like a very interesting place for a child to learn all sorts of things(and not necessarily the “school” stuff alone). I am a public school teacher in a primarily homogenous (read: whiter than white) community. I know lots of kids who would benefit greatly from having such wonderful diversity surrounding them. It would help them grow as humans. Your story also makes me really interested in visiting Toronto. Thanks for your insights/thoughts.

  177. The “War on Christmas” crowd has no sense of history, anyway.
    Why be insulted about “Holiday Trees?” They’re not Christmas. The *Real” fundamentalists, the original Puritans, *banned* the celebration of Christmas entirely, because it wasn’t Biblical. They knew that Christmas was Saturnalia in disguise.
    One of my Dutch ancestors, living in New York State after the Puritan English took over the running of the place, was *fined* and *imprisoned* for “Keeping Christmas in the Dutch Manner.”
    The War on Christmas people can come back and talk to us when they’re being imprisoned for wishing people Merry Christmas, or fined for calling it a “Christmas Tree.” Assuming they don’t start doing that to other people first (If “Jesus is the Reason for the Season,” why are they shopping for trees at all?)

  178. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for leaving this post up. I just got around to reading it today and your words and feelings so perfectly express the things I also feel.
    I had to quit Jr. High chorus because the music teacher, married to a preacher, forced us to sing Christian music much of the time, even outside of the holidays! As someone who at the time was agnostic at best and is now Pagan, this was just awful. All I wanted to do was sing, and I wasn’t allowed to do so unless I was willing to give glory unto (Christian) God.
    Tolerance isn’t a crime. Promoting tolerance, hell even *expecting* tolerance, is a good thing in my book. You exercised remarkable restraint, and I’m very proud of you. There’s a reason, I as a new reader, keep coming back to your blog. From Upstate NY please know there’s a heartfelt thank you.

  179. It’s just plain wrong. Sorry- Harlot- occasionally Christians don’t act very Christ-like.
    Just makes me sad. My personal beliefs about handling Christmas are on My blog. As always agree or disagree- I appreciate your candor. AND your socks;)

  180. Yes, those people were rude but their only crime was talking too loudly. There is nothing illegal about not liking other cultures, although liberal thinkers believe it’s a sign of intrinsic evil. They are tolerant of everyone and everything as long as it conforms to their beliefs.
    It’s a quaint notion that we should all be loving, appreciative and moved by the customs, religions and lifestyles from around the world but it’s not reality. Indeed, some of those cultures celebrated are some of the most intolerant on the planet. Shouldn’t we have the same respect for Christians and their celebration as we do the Maori or the Muslim? We live in countries (US/Canada) that were founded and built by Christians so why deny that heritage? Is it because some hyper-sensitive, mal-adjusted people who are ruled by the whimsy of their unstable emotions are “offended”? What about the 80% who are not offended? Should they be ignored. That’s tyranny of the minority! You can’t make everyone happy .. some things in life you just have to deal with and get along. December 25th may just be another day for millions around the world but it’s a big deal here. Why no tolerance for that? I just wish it really was a religious celebration isntead of an orgy of conspicuous consumerism. I could respect it even more if it were about Christ. And I am not a Christian.
    So, what can we do? We can create peace through knitting! Let’s get out there and make the world more beautiful with great knitwear! I plan a multi-cultural knitting experience: A French Beret, Scandanavian mittens, and Aran sweater, Inuit mukluks … a cabled burqua.

  181. I also have a daughter who plays trumpet and sings. Her high school had the Broadway show in December and the winter concert in January. She also belonged to several community groups that performed in many places,including churches and synagogs. When your daughter gets to high school,you will noticed that all the cute boys play brass and tht she is always surrounded by them.

  182. Steph you rock on:-) thanks for thinking the same things that i did/do!! and sadly i do verbalize it.. and boy do i get beaten up for it..but am proud to show my compassion for all types of religions:-) hugs happy holidays 🙂 karola

  183. I am a Roman Catholic married to a Conservative Jew (can’t be too conservative, her married a catholic girl), and all I have to say is that I was a little hurt that Stephanie kept mentioning that the Christmas people were “Catholic”. Were they really? And if so, I still don’t think their Catholic beliefs made them behave so rudely at the Songs Around the World concert. Their ignorance was showing, not the fact they “might” be Catholic.
    I’ve written and re-written my post a few times now, because I keep comingh across as taking Stephanie’s post and some of the comments here too personally. I guess I just really want to say that I’m a Catholic that knows a December concert titled Songs Around the World does not correlate to Christmas.
    And I am someone that says Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, because nowaways, you just don’t know. My husband is the one that wants a tree this year, not me. He thinks it’ll more fun than a bush, You know, more space to decorate?? Okay, maybe that’s just us.
    Thanks Stephanie for keeping this up.

  184. We love you, Steph. I can’t believe people sent you hate mail over this. There have been so many fabulous comments made here already, I don’t have a whole lot to add. As a non-religious person, I get a little more uncomfortable with the whole Christmas hubbub every year. I’m all for a holiday celebration, I’m all for peace on earth, I’m all for giving and receiving gifts in the name of love for our fellow wo/man. But I’m not for shoving one set of religious beliefs down the throats of all. It does not matter one iota whether they are the religious beliefs of the majority or the minority.
    Oops, I added more than I meant to. Anyway, much love to you! I’m sorry I missed seeing you when you were at Powell’s.

  185. Hey Steph, I read all the comments basically cause I was nosy. I read your first book. I really like it I am a Christian but I’m also a grinch. I’m okay with not doing the whole Christmas thing. I like the concert idea but it would be nice to be inclusive of Christian songs also. I am a very multicultural person, and I would like for all cultures to be included, but I also understand that it is unlikely. Sorry, that this has been the craziest years “in my whole life” where people have no tolerance for other people and how they feel, but I guess some people are afraid of being left out of “the world.”

  186. Hello, Stephanie, I haven’t read the comments because I just read this last night while on vacation. I would have sat there wanting to make a comment to the people behind you if only to tell them to be quiet so I could hear the concert. I am a Christian by sect, an Episcopalian by denomination, a liberal by political inclination, and very much a believer in the separation of church and state as guaranteed by the Constitution (unlike what much of the current U.S. government thinks.) This is the season of Advent for me which is preparing for the Birth of Christ. I sing in a church choir and the Advent hymns are wonderful. My children go to a Catholic high school (for many reasons.) We actually got more commercial-style Christmas songs for the band concert than we did anything religiously-oriented. All that being said, I found that when my kids were in a diverse public elementary school that a parent could come and talk about Hannukah (which I know is spelled wrong, but my son’s computer won’t allow me to open another browser), but it wasn’t OK to come and talk about Christmas traditions (in a non-dogmatic way). I have a friend who knows much about Yemen and the spice routes in Arabia. She came to speak, but didn’t feel OK telling the kids that these were the routes that the Three Kings may have taken. To do so would have given context to many of the kids. I don’t know the content of the songs around the world concert. A winter theme? If there was a Hannukah song or Shinto song, then it might be appropriate to sing a middle of the road Advent or Christmas song. And please not Jingle Bells. But it is a hard line to draw – inclusive without being exclusive. I have said too much. Let us pray (or think or meditate) for Peace in 2006. Let us pray for tolerance.

  187. Stephanie,
    I doubt if anyone will even read this so far down, but I really think the person who made comments on your grammar was out of place!
    I teach technical writing and ESL in the college of Engineering at San Jose State University and have to edit and correct papers all day long. I can’t read anything without noticing the grammar and spelling errors. Yet, even I make “typos” and errors when writing. I also write in the worst truncated American slang when I send emails to my friends. That’s out of choice! A blog is a place where you are putting out your personality and if that includes a sense of humour(Oh dear, I’m married to a Canadian and my spelling is becoming contaminated!) so much the better.
    Vicki in San Jose (married to a guy from Toronto!)

  188. Received “At Knit’s End” as a Christmas gift and haven’t yet stopped laughing. Sadly, I recognize myself and my dear friend, a new knitter, in most of the pages. Thanks for a true understanding of yarn in the freezer; believe it or not, some people just don’t get it!

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