Monday, 21 December 2009

Happy Winter Solstice!

Muskoka is a place where families travel to be with grandparents. But it is not without its difficulties. Small towns, without access to larger support services can result in socioeconomic and emotional  hardships.  Many seasonal workers depend upon hourly wages. Funds raised by groups are limited by the financial resources of a community, unlike Toronto's Santa Fund, which.

Yes, most of us bare our souls more in this season. We are gentler, kinder, even if more frazzled. Over the years my classrooms have been filled with a rainbow of December festivals. With December parent/teacher interviews over, report cards digested, we had established a classroom community and trusted one another.

What I love about Muskoka, is that our population is becoming more integrated. Not by much, and very slowly, but it is happening. There is more respect for one another's differences, while we embrace our similarities. With China accepting us as a tourist destination, we can anticipate many more visitors to Bethune House in Gravenhurst.
Not all are able to accept differences, but I hope we become more understanding as society evolves.

We loved and respected those in my classroom who were setting new traditions, in the spirit of divided families, due to divorce, or those who had lost loved ones. We embraced them and honoured their old or new traditions, e.g., pizza with dad on Xmas Eve, or a movie with mom on Xmas Day. I could empathise. I remember my first Christmas Day, with children gone to their father's house, I was alone. The parents of one of my students took me in. It was such a blessing.

Zahra and her mom created this Eid poster for our classroom. She explained the foods I should choose when I planned a visit to a Lebanese restaurant! The others were so delighted.

My joyful students shared their experiences of family traditions: fasting, feasting, festivals, fun, fanfare, food, and family.
And symbols: light, candles, stars, trees, the moon, Eid-Ul-Fitr, the lighting of the Menorah. And stories.
So this is Christmas

My favourite memory was my student, from a not so successful family. He didn't have much self-esteem until he bravely explained what Hanukkah meant to him. He felt so proud. We clapped in honour.
And the crafts we made. So much fun! 
Remember those around you. Many get together during this season, but more may be alone due to circumstances: poverty, dysfunctional families, transportation issues, mental or physical health issues, addictions, snow storms, and any other complications of life.

Happy Pagan Festival, Shalom, Asalaam 'Alaykum, Happy Winter Solstice, Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanza, Merry Yuletide and Merry Festivus to the rest of us: to you and yours. Here is a tongue-in-cheek Happy Holiday message.

¸.·´¸.·*´¨) ¸.·*¨)
(¸.·´ (¸.·´ *Jenn


Yogi♪♪♪ said...

Great post! I wish more people were as accepting of differences as you are. Down here in Oklahoma USA the Christmas police is out in force. Don't say "Happy Holidays" to them or write Xmas.

Gaelyn said...

I'll bet the kids loved you as a teacher. We are all just people on the same planet.
Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Crafty Green Poet said...

its great to see differences being celebrated rather than treated as issues or problems...

Lucy said...

I think you've got everyone included in your closure! All of those back at 'cha and more!

Jenn Jilks said...

Thank you, all! It is a wonderful season.

Stine in Ontario said...

All the best, Jenn. Great post!