I live to rant but I hate offending people. Except those who deserve it like Newt Gingrich, Pat Robertson, any Bush, and I can go on, but I won’t.
When I was a kid the Santa Claus question never came up as I lived in an almost all Jewish neighborhood in Queens.
In my early adulthood it never came up because everybody I know delayed having children.
Sometimes I think that believing in Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny is a good thing as it gives kids something to cling to.
I think that maybe kids who are taught “facts” become cynical because of what they are taught. I’m specifically talking about Jews here because we’re the only group I can talk about with any authority. So I’m really just curious when I ask about Santa Claus beliefs.
But don’t ask me any religious questions, as we were brought up “Yiddishkeit” or with “a Jewish head,” or “Jewish feeling.”
I’m learning about the religious aspect of being a Jew now as a grown-up. Fave niece (FN) goes to Hebrew School and teaches us. (And sometimes I take classes.)
I see FN growing up with both a strong religious identity, and a respect for all people.
All the kids I personally know don’t think in terms of color, religion, ethnic identity etc. when making friends. It bodes well for the future.
But they’re not a random sample. They’re FN, my friends’ kids, and kids who live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and go to “top ranked” public schools. Some parents could afford to send their kids to private schools but choose to send them to city schools so they can be part of a diverse group.
In my day, parents sent their kids to “progressive’ private schools, or if they didn’t believe in private schools or couldn’t afford them moved out of the city to suburbs. They didn’t believe that they could change a failing system. We ended up living among people who were exactly like us. I hated it.
Parents today try; I’ve watched Mrs. Ralph (they live in Queens, the most diverse county in the country; Mrs. Ralph was a young mommy for here) battle the school system for years as Kati, my birthday mate and very close friend, has some learning disabilities. She’s now a sophomore at FIT, and thriving. Ashlee her younger sister goes to one of the most selective high schools in the city, LaGuardia.
This year Lucia used up all her vacation and sick time battling the school system to make sure that Little Luce got into the high school of her choice. (Using all days off for your child’s education are two separate subjects I will go into at another time.)
Only I could go from believing in Santa Claus to changing a school system, but they are related. Staying in the city and trying to change a school system that has been known to be failing, one kid at a time, takes guts and belief in the inherent goodness of most people.
I don’t care if kids believe in Santa Claus or not; I care that they are responsible and respectful of all people. Kati’s best friend is Muslim. I’ve heard about her for years but only knew what her religion is when she began dating a Jehovah’s Witness and his family objected.
Here’s to Santa Claus and all kids who are growing up thinking that all people really are equal and have (or should have) the same rights, privileges and pursuit of that great intangible–happiness that they have.