Ah, what a magical time of year! ‘Tis the season to both make warm and fuzzy memories for the majority of the population all while alienating and/or denigrating the minorities. Where staff hang garlands and deck their halls although they feel incredibly uncomfortable with this practice – all while being required to participate in the celebrations or be considered a Grinch or Scrooge who is waging a personal war against Christmas. Oh man, that Elf on the Shelf at the library is so gonna tattle on THAT person. And don’t forget to put out the token menorah!
Let’s take a step back and look at a group of Christmas celebrators who may feel alienated by your library’s Christmas décor: those in mourning. Over the past three years my husband and I have had three major loved ones die – two in this year alone. And let me tell you what: neither one of us feels like slapping on a fake smile in order to make others feel good about this time of year. We are surrounded by constant reminders that we will never again have a Christmas together with those we’ve lost. It sucks to say the very least.
Over the course of the years that I’ve been writing this blog, I have had a major shift in how I view holidays at the library. Because our community overwhelmingly celebrates Christmas, I thought that joining in on the festivities was a good thing. Now I feel incredibly uncomfortable with this. Last year I chose to keep up my previous holiday blog posts. This year I removed them. Why? Because of horrible anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic comments written on a librarian Facebook group’s Christmas-related posts. This is a youth services librarian group. These things were being said by youth service librarians.
So, this year I have decided to not participate in feeding the Christmas beast. You can and will find an overabundance of help and ideas all over the internet if you’d like your library to celebrate Christmas – you just will no longer find that on this blog.
Instead, I’ve decided to put together several posts to highlight those “other” winter holidays. These are ones that, for whatever reason, all-inclusive children-level holiday-program celebrating librarians tend to leave out (although they automatically leave out Atheists or others who just don’t do holidays – this is why I’m specifically focusing on Children’s programming/décor because if you’re gonna be all-inclusive, there must be a discussion about how Santa isn’t real, and that’s more of an Adult thing that I could write another entire blog post on). These are holidays that could cause controversy because they’re not necessarily warm ‘n fuzzy, or not celebrated by many people in the US.
So why make a big deal out of this on my blog? Lemme explain:
In the comments section of another site’s pandering post about holiday celebrations in the library (I’m choosing not to link to it), a librarian joked that finding a picture book on Satanic holidays wasn’t going to happen.
My immediate thought?
So, I’m putting other posts on hold for now until 2017 including this year’s awesome non-holiday Decemberley theme that has warm fuzzies out the wazoo. Until then I will be putting together alternative holiday programs for youth service librarians. The posts will have sign templates, imagery that can be used in displays, passive program ideas, etc.
All of this said, I am in no way an expert in any of these celebrations, so if you celebrate any of them that I cover, then I’d truly appreciate your thoughts and reactions to what I’ve created. I want to get it right. Though, I truly do believe that libraries should not do holidays. If you want to help the sad children who won’t have a Christmas without the library’s intervention? Then please help those children by volunteering your time and talents to local organizations – that would be awesome and way more appropriate.
Finally, I have two thank yous to share:
I’d like to thank the youth service librarian who gave me the idea for this series. She wrote to me that she wanted a Krampusnacht display at her public library since it’s one of her favorite holidays, and Christmas is super-de-dooper represented with their décor (plus a token menorah). You know who you are – and you’re gonna be thrilled with the kick-off post for this series.
And to the librarian who joked about Satanic picture books: I appreciate the shove that you gave me to make a difference in this world. I think it’s gonna be great.
Here are the links to the various celebrations:
This post and the upcoming holiday ones were quite interesting to revisit. And I guess my main takeaway was that I wished that I had done more for each holiday. And I do plan on adding some more content to these holiday programs at some point in the future, but not for 2020. This holiday season is going to be particularly brutal because of the pandemic, and I believe that my original posts have made my point.
However, I have one addition to make on this general post:
A librarian who didn’t know my blog very well, asked me to make a Happy Holidays card for a library group. So I made one. And now I’m sharing it with you in case you have need for an inclusive holiday image to share.