It began with a Thai Festival of Lights. Back when I worked at the best bookstore in Chicago and my boss was the best fantasy writer I know, we celebrated Loy Krathong. We used tarp and a hose to make an actual flowing river in the middle of the children's section and everyone released rafts into it and watched them float. I think I can safely brag that it was the coolest bookstore event ever, rivaled only by the hunt for an actual bear that we staged later.
(image by Robert Pollai; from Wikipedia commons)
As a kid, I got tired of answering, "Are you Hanukkah or Christmas?" and "Do you really get eight presents?" As I got older, I got bitter every time someone wished me a Merry Christmas.
"I don't celebrate Christmas. Not everyone does, you know," I wanted to grumble, even though it was a lie: I do celebrate Christmas, because it's darn fun. But I wanted people to acknowledge that for a significant portion of the world, December 25 is just another day. It didn't help that Christmas lights started appearing before Halloween and people started referring to Christmas as "a secular holiday." Explain that one, somebody, please.
So when I became a full time teacher, I struggled. How to celebrate Christmas in the classroom, or Hanukkah, without leaving someone out?
And then I remembered the Thai Festival of Lights, and everything I learned as an anthropology major, and I decided: we would just celebrate EVERYTHING.* Every single holiday I could find. And we did. I made December's official social studies curriculum "Holidays" and invited representatives from every major religion (including atheism) to come talk to the class about their most important holidays and about how their communities answer life's big questions.
It is still my favorite unit I've ever taught. And I am still a strong believer in celebrating everything.
And guess what starts today? DECEMBER! (cue carnival music)
So hold onto your seats. Every day in December is party day in Jacqui's Room. Adventure! Prizes! Special guests! Useless font color changes!
But I will need your help. And today, I need a name for the Decemberpalooza. I hate "paloozas" ever since a friend gave my ticket to the first Lollapalooza to a boy who didn't even like her back. So what shall we call the December fun? Comments ideas, please.
the magic present-finding guru,
who will answer all your most sticky gift-buying questions.
* I didn't have any Jehovah's Witness students that year, by the way. Also, I cleared this with all parents, administration, etc. Everyone loved it.