Students pair up, and interview each other. In this way they begin to understand that there is no right or wrong holiday traditions, and that there are many kinds of families, with varied traditions.
This works, especially for children in divorced and divided families, for which traditions may have recently changed, or for students in varied socioeconomic groups. I often had children who may have special time with one parent, or the other, or foster students who visited family for a few days. For those who have lost a parent, for example, it is important to honour their new traditions. Marlo Thomas' Free To Be Book has some fabulous stories in this vein.
Having taught in schools with as many varied religions as can be, we learned to find similarities, and to share our stories of celebration. It can be as simple as having pizza with non-custodial Dad on 'Christmas Eve', to high mass, or for students it may involve candle-lighting ceremonies, and the breaking of bread. Across the traditions, we find similarities and common languages in terms of foods, symbols, celebratory indicators, music, and the giving of gifts.
The student interviews another asking:
1. What are the special foods you eat at this time of year?
2. Do you travel over the holidays? Tell me where and with whom.
3. Will you see friends and family?
4. Do you plan any parties? Tell me about them.
5. Do you have special music?
7. Are there any decorations you place in your home?
8. Which is your favourite part of the December School holidays?
9. What kinds of stories do you read or listen to at this time of year?
10. What are the colours you associate with December?
11. What are the symbols you associate with December? (Muslims look for the moon, light is a symbol common to many religions, candles, etc.)
12. Do you give gifts? When, where, how many?
Caterpillars and butterflies - This is the season. I love them. They are everywhere. Down on the septic bed, the blueweed, viper's bugloss, is merrily growing. Each plant has a half doze...
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