Sunday, December 23, 2007

Happy Holi-Hanua-Kwanza!

My friend Terri sent me a link to this poem on another blog - The Potter's Hand ! It fits in perfectly with my post from yesterday!!


Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.
Why the Politically Correct Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people’s feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a ‘Holiday ‘.
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe’s the word Christmas - was no where to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny’s and Sears
You won’t hear the word Christmas;it won’t touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-tyAre words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace.
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate ‘Winter Break’ under your‘Dream Tree’
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Shout MERRY CHRISTMAS, not Happy Holiday !

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Return to Sender

Our "Merry Christmas" Candy Cane gift

"Merry Christmas!" said 7 year old Meghan as she handed her classmate a present.

"Thank you Meghan!"

"You're Welcome" she replied as she continued to pass out candy canes to each of her classmates during her lunch period at school.

Her teacher had given her permission to pass out her Christmas gifts at lunch, and Meghan was enjoying blessing her friends. She was so excited to give them to her friends and teachers this year that she just couldn't wait till the "Winter Party" 2 days later. She had even reminded her mom a few weeks earlier to "not forget" to get candy canes this year to pass out like she did the previous years.

Lovingly attached to each cane with bright red ribbon was a handmade note. It was the same note that has been attached to candy canes given out by Meghan and her siblings for over 8 years . . . . . a reminder of what Christmas is all about and a Holiday greeting from Meghan.

A Gift for You

I hope you enjoy this candy cane.
As you take it in your hand, turn it upside down and you will see the "J" that reminds us of Jesus who was born on Christmas Day.
Turn it back upright and you will see the crook that reminds us that He is the Good Shepherd.
The stripes are a reminder that He was beaten for us.
The red color reminds us how He shed His blood for us on Calvary.
The white tells us how He can wash our sins white as snow.
As you taste this candy cane be reminded that fellowship with Jesus is ever so sweet.

Merry Christmas!
From Meghan

As lunch was ending, Meghan's teacher returned to collect her students and take them back to class. She saw one of the cards on a student's tray and read it. The kids went back to class after a bathroom break, and the day would go on as each and every day has so far this year. . . . . with one exception. . . .


Meghan arrived home on Wednesday, happy as usual and excited to see her Grandmom and Aunt who had just come over to visit. I was sitting on the couch, trying to enjoy the visit despite my pounding headache, sore throat and exhaustion. I greeted Meg as usual, she got her snack, and then got out her backpack to do homework. She handed me a note. I assumed it was from her teacher explaining why Meghan was "off task" today or some other issue. Her teacher has been very patient and creative in trying to find what will "work" for Meghan in the area of attention and focusing on the work she needs to do. It's been a frustrating year as I see so much potential in my intelligent daughter, but she day-dreams the days away many times. This would not have been the first note that has been sent home.

Imagine my surprise to read instead -

"Mrs. West,
Thank you so much for the treats.
But the administration has kindly asked that the cards be returned.
Thank you again!
Mrs. 'Teacher' "

Attached to the note were 4 of the handmade cards that had been attached to the candy canes! Meghan told me that once they were back at class the teacher had asked the kids to remove the cards from the candy canes and give them to the teacher so she could return them to me. No explanation was given as to why.

I could feel it deep inside . . . my blood was starting to churn. . . . . I tried to remain calm (and looked that way on the outside) but my insides were burning! I was sad and hurt as we had made those gifts to bless people and the teacher had the audacity to ask the kids to remove part of their "gift" and return it! And I was especially frustrated as I knew that it was only because it was "religious" - ie. CHRISTIAN - in nature.

I couldn't concentrate on "chatting" anymore. I had to do something. So I looked up information from the ACLJ (Amercian Center for Law and Justice - they fight for Constitutional rights - especially religious freedom of speech) regarding whether we had done anything wrong with mentioning Jesus on our Christmas card/gift. I found an almost identical case back in 2004 in Oregon - and the school system decided to "change their mind" (and policies) about it all and settled out of court. I looked up some more info, called the ACLJ - and then made a call to the teacher.

I won't go into the whole conversations with the teacher and then the Assistant Principal (who I was passed off to) as they were not pleasant. I tried to remain calm (but probably wasn't) and not say things I would regret later, and I just tried to let them know that I was hurt, that it was rude and disrespectful to myself and my daughter, and that it was my daughter's Constitutional right to give a card with the word "Jesus" on it. There had been no wrong-doing on my daughter's part. They told me it was done because they were not allowed to send home things of a religious nature! Hmmm . . . what about all the Hanakah menorrahs and Kwanza cups and Muslim projects the kids have been bringing home all week?! Are those not "religious"????!!!

I didn't get an apology. Instead the Assistant Principal was going to contact the legal dept and let me know - but he didn't think they did anything wrong. I felt very patronized by him and that he was just wanting to push this under the rug, but was willing to do a little research for me.

I sent an email to the principal - trying to state our position and what happened in an intelligent, hopefully non-threatening way and saying that - "overall we have enjoyed our kid's excellent teachers at "this school". We were hesitant at first when we were rezoned here a couple years ago from "another school". But the staff, administration, and kids have all been wonderful. I hope that our remaining years at "this school" will be just as good."

On Thursday my husband talked with CBN News about airing the story on Friday (12-21-07) - but asked them to withhold all names - the school's, teacher's, ours, etc - as we were not out to smear the school or teacher, but wanted to get the word out to people that we DO have a Constitutional RIGHT to be able to pass out Christian Christmas cards/gifts!!! It was aired today.

Here are 3 different versions depending on how fast your connection is to the internet.

This should play correctly in Windows Media Player on your PC.

The story is about 12 minutes and 23 seconds into the video. You can drag the play slider in the player to get to that section without having to watch the first 12 minutes.

They did a pretty good job summarizing the incident and Gordon had some good commentary about it afterward.


So - today the school had a "Winter Party" for youngest son's kindergarten class. . . . . . and YES! I did send his candy canes to school!!!! And his teacher LIKED them! :) She even commented about the button I was wearing that said "It's OK - Wish me a Merry Christmas!". She said she liked it! :) I knew she would! The kids even sang the song "Silent Night" (all about Jesus' birth!). My camera batteries kept dying on me - but miraculously it stayed on throughout that WHOLE song (and shut off right as it ended)!!

2 funny things about this week - on Wed. my kindergartener's class had a Polar Express Day at school and got to come in his PJ's, drink hot cocoa, read the story and make a craft. They made little trains out of candy. Now this is a CHRITMAS story - right? Well, the train had a tag on it that said - "A Happy Holiday Train"! ????? Hunh? Do the Jewish people get on trains to light their menorrahs? What about the Kwanza or Muslim celebrations? As far as I know, the last time Jews all got on trains was when they were being transferred to concentration camps. So why bother calling this a "Holiday" train? What other Holiday do we have stories about riding on a trian? (if anyone knows - let me know!) Here's a picture of the train and tag!

The other funny thing was the entryway display at my kid's school! Smack in the middle of the entryway is a Christmas tree with 2 HUGE sign displays (text and pictures) on either side. One side said "Happy Kwanza!" The other side - "Happy Hanakah!" My 10 year old son asked - "So, where is the Merry Christmas sign?!" Oh - I wish I had taken a picture of it!! I didn't think to do that till I got home. It was kind of comical considering what's happened this week! :)

So I was at peace today - expectantly waiting for a call from the Principal or Assistant Principal (or even the teacher . . . .Heck! Even a note from the teacher!) saying they were sorry for what happened and that they were wrong.


Instead I got a call (from the A.P.) stating that they were right! Another very patronizing call that lacked real evidence - other than "I'm just a policy-keeper and doing what the Assistant Superintendant told me to do." He couldn't even point me in the direction of the specific policy - but said that they just couldn't pass out things of a religious nature (it might offend someone else!) - and that my daughter couldn't pass it out in a way that would "interfere with the instructional day"! Hmmm. . . . . I don't think she hindered the instructional day in any way (it was during lunch!) . . . AND she had permission to pass it out . . . AND the teacher was not the one passing it out . . . AND it said Meghan's name on it - not the school's or teacher's . . . .AND Meghan was not trying to get anyone to convert to Christianity right then and there or forcing the kids to take the candy or cards . . . AND . . . .. Ok - don't get me started again! :)

It's a shame that giving a simple Christmas gift and card would end up like this. With all the stressors of the season and the busyness in our house right now - I was tempted to let the whole thing slide. . . . . . . .but then what would happen next year? What would happen to other kids trying to give Christmas cards? Would they ban me from passing out cupcakes with the name Jesus on it (for HIS Birthday?!)? . . . . . I know it's a huge fight - but for some reason I have to fight it. My Mama Bear instincts have kicked in! Don't mess with my cubs!! :)

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!