THE PLANK NOVEMBER 5, 2009
The Times has a short report today from the great state of California. It appears as if there is a controversy involving Christmas and schoolchildren. (As an aside, we are already five days into November and I have not heard a single person complain that the "holiday season" has begun earlier than in previous years. These dreary complaints generally start at the end of October. A phony "trend" has either died out, or--even better--the real trend of complaining about a nonexistent trend has vanished.) Anyway, the piece begins:
If Merry Susan Hyatt has her way, every public school pupil in California will have the voter-approved right to sing “Joy to the World” in the classroom. Ms. Hyatt, 61, a substitute schoolteacher, is the chief proponent of a proposed California ballot initiative that would require the state’s public schools to offer Christmas music during the holiday season.
As a fan of Christmas music, I feel that I can speak on this issue with some credibility and fair-mindedness. The problem here is Ms. Hyatt. We have all met her. In fact, we have all had her as a teacher. She does not simply want kids to enjoy their Christmases (because who does not?); no, she demands the forced cheeriness and conformity that Christmas' critics contend is all that is left of the holiday. More amusing, however, was this bit from the piece:
[S]he added that in her experience as a substitute teacher in schools in largely Latino, largely Christian neighborhoods in Southern California, she had not often encountered people who do not celebrate Christmas. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a Jewish child in one of my classes,” she said. “If so they never said anything.”
Hard to imagine they would keep silent, what with the soothing Ms. Hyatt presiding over class. No matter: The real point is that Ms. Hyatt will end up entrenching the problem she seeks to rectify. But a Merry Christmas to her regardless.