The Kamloops school board didn’t meet last night (it meets every second Monday) but if it had, it’s a pretty sure thing there would have been nothing on the agenda about the upcoming “winter break.”
This board is not one to take risks. After Saturday’s Armchair Mayor on the winter-break issue, Daily News reporter Jason Hewlett polled some of the trustees during his Sunday shift.
He found no appetite among board members to even discuss the idea of calling the “winter break” by its proper title — Christmas vacation.
As I noted on Saturday, the Chilliwack board is showing some moxy by making the change. For its trouble, it’s under fire from the Chilliwack teachers association and parent advisory committee.
Website comments down there, though, are more supportive of the board for “showing some intestinal fortitude.”
The Kamloops board would seem disinterested in stirring up anything that would be controversial. The sleeping-dogs-lie method of governance is best summed up by vice chair Diane Dosch, who told Hewlett, “It doesn’t need to be discussed. That’s just calling for trouble when you don’t need it.”
So, please, let there be no reference to Christmas Day, lest it cause offence to we non-Christians.
Frankly, this sentiment of trying to avoid offending non-Christians is so misdirected, so indicative of a lack of maturity within our public institutions, that it’s barely worth arguing about. In that sense, the Kamloops board is right, though not for the reason it provides.
That hasn’t stopped a lively debate breaking out at http://www.yournewsnow.ca, where the preponderance of opinion is that the School District 73 board has its collective head somewhere up a dark place.
“Oh, sure, Christmas isn’t allowed, a holiday observed by a third of the planet’s population,” writes DSavage. “Yet, when it comes to Hallowe’en, a holiday banned by our ancestors, the schools show no restraint.”
Intrepid writes, “I love the Christmas season, the Christmas cards, the Christmas Holidays, Christmas stockings hung with care, Christmas lights, Christmas shopping, Santa Claus and the stories about the birth of the Baby Jesus in a stable long ago. And, yes, I loved all the Christmas concerns that have been held at the schools all through the years. . . .
“Winter break? How boring is that!”
And logicalview chips in, “SD73, you should be ashamed of yourselves. There is nothing offensive about Christmas. . . . Geesh, when will this crap stop?”
Of course, some less thoughtful opinions are being expressed as well. There’s always someone who will take an issue like this and use it as reason to close our borders to anyone who doesn’t fit “the Canadian way.”
The basic message, though, is that camouflaging a major national holiday by calling it something else a) fools nobody, b) insults the intelligence of Christians and non-Christians alike, and c) does the opposite of what’s intended, creating more backlash against religious minorities than it does tolerance.
JUDGING BY THE SEASON, this is going to be another good one. One of the things I like most about the Christmas season, and about this job, is being asked to judge stuff. Last week, I had the difficult job of tasting entries in our annual cookbook recipe contest. Dirty job, but each year I suck it up and spend an hour or two with the other judges eating incredible food. Saturday, Syd and I were on the panel of judges for the Santa Parade, and it’s one pile of fun. The work that goes into that parade behind-the-scenes is really quite amazing, and the KCBIA and its partners, sponsors and volunteers deserve tremendous credit. Next week, I’ll join two other judges for the 2010 Kamloops Daily News Christmas Story Competition. Reading the entries in this contest is a real treat, and The Christmas Letter theme this year is drawing a lot of entries already. Don’t forget, the deadline is next Monday, Dec. 6 at 5 p.m. Contest rules are available at our front counter.