Santa Claus in a parade in Toronto 2007 dsc128This year’s edition of the annual phantasmal “war on Christmas” continues to be waged across the country. The latest battleground is in San Jose, CA. A mother’s complaint, the San Jose Mercury News reports, led to the cancellation of a kindergarten class field trip to see Santa … and other parents are furious (WebCite cached version):

A Santa storm is brewing in San Jose.

After a field trip to visit Santa Claus by kindergarten students at Sartorette Elementary School was canceled by administrators on the heels of a complaint by one Jewish mother, things are getting ugly down on Woodford Drive.

Angry parents plan to descend on the board meeting Thursday, threatening a student walkout Friday if the Cambrian School District’s board fails to reinstate the annual Santa trip. The woman who made the complaint, who identified herself only as Talia and declined to be interviewed Wednesday evening, stood by her claim that having kids write or visit Santa unfairly imposes one religion on all students. She fired off an angry letter Dec. 7 to fellow parents at the charter school, alleging she was “ambushed by a group of moms from Ms. Kay’s class” who she said yelled at her for “ruining Santa for the kids.”

As is very common in these cases, those who see nothing wrong with public-school kids being paraded annually up on Santa’s lap rely on appeals to tradition (e.g. “They’ve always done this at Sartorette!”) as well as appeals to the masses:

“It’s very upsetting that the district would act after taking one person’s opinion and not talking to the 500 other families at the school,” said Melanie Scott, mother of a first-grader who took the field trip last year.

Both of these lines of thinking are fallacious; just because something has always been done or always been thought, doesn’t make it acceptable or correct; and just because many people approve of something, likewise doesn’t make it proper.

I love how Christianists accuse the complaining mother of “ruining Santa for the kids.” That whine makes no sense. If parents want their kids to sit on Santa’s lap, there’s nothing preventing them from taking their kids to a mall or some other place and doing so! Neither this mother’s complaint, nor the field trip’s cancellation, changes that … at all. They’re as free to do so as they’ve ever been. How and why are they claiming otherwise?

The obvious question to be asked is, if these parents are so vehement about making sure their kids sit on Santa’s lap, why aren’t they willing to make that happen on their own time? Why do they require the school to get it done for them? Why divert kids’ learning time to something that could be done elsewhere? I just don’t get it. I can only assume it has something to do with a latent desire for communal reinforcement; that is, they’re not so much concerned with whether or not their own kid(s) get to sit on Santa’s lap this year, but rather, whether or not their kid(s)’ entire class must do so.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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  • Michael Volzke

    Seriously! Why don't you just have your child not the field trip? It REALLY isn't about religion or anything, BUT the mothers NOT wanting her child to attend! Santa Claus is someone EVERY child BELIEVES in. I truly believe that mother wants to JUST ruin Christmas for every child, but her own! How does ONE child's parent ruin Christmas for every child in a kindgertain class? Seriously! Where is this du=istrict meeting!

    • Re: "Why don't you just have your child not the field trip?"

      Because it's a class activity. As in "the whole class." Should be obvious, but I guess it needs to be pointed out.

      Re: "It REALLY isn't about religion or anything, BUT the mothers NOT wanting her child to attend!"

      Correct. Why force the issue? Why not just let parents take their kids to visit Santa on their own time instead of on school time? Who's stopping them from doing so?

      Re: "Santa Claus is someone EVERY child BELIEVES in."

      Really!? Is that so? Even the Jewish and Hindu and Muslim and Buddhist kids believe in Santa? Since when?

      Re: "How does ONE child's parent ruin Christmas for every child in a kindgertain class?"

      The better question to ask is, why was the school forcing Christianity on all the kindergarten kids?

      Re: "Where is this du=istrict meeting!"

      I have no idea. But I'm sure you could find out. Google is your friend: http://www.cambriansd.org/Domain/4 Be sure to go there, with all your Christianist neighbors, armed with torches and pitchforks. There's nothing like a mob of peasants to inform school administrators how to do their jobs! I'm sure it'll be a fun night for all concerned!

      • Andi

        Yes, because one person's beliefs should ALWAYS be more important than all the others. That is ridiculous!! And, not that Santa should be considered religious, but she sure didn't mind when the rest of the students were about Hanukkah. My kindergartener learned about holidays in China, Australia, Mexico and he learned about Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. But, you know what? I am glad that he able to share in the traditions of his classmates, and learn about other cultures! Talia is a hateful, close-minded person! Good for the other parents for sticking together!!

    • Tsrk

      Not every child believes in Santa. Or the Easter bunny for that matter. Stop forcing your traditions on others. We have a separation of Church and state for solid reasons. Let's join together as Americans and leave our religious beliefs to be celebrated in our own. With full rights and freedoms to do so.

  • daisy

    I think there is nothing wrong with taking the kids to see Santa Claus as long as the school is imposing the other cultural (or religous) varieties equally in their curriculum. If you all believe in equal rights and cultural varieties.

    • Re: "If you all believe in equal rights and cultural varieties."

      I'm not sure the kids are being taken on field trips to engage in any other religion's rites. So I don't think the principle of "equality" applies here.