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Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward All
As I begin writing this blog post, we’ve just had our first snow of winter. On November 12. And despite the fact that I am staunchly Team No-Christmas-decorations-before-Thanksgiving, the weather has me thinking of the winter holidays.
When you’re born six days before Christmas, you usually either embrace it wholeheartedly or go full Grinch. I went the first route, and I absolutely love the holidays. But it can be a really difficult time of year, too. Those who can’t afford extravagant gift-giving, those who have no family or are estranged from their family, and those who belong to marginalized populations can all face difficulties, ranging from sadness and depression to outright acts of hate. For many, it’s not exactly the most wonderful time of the year.
Recently, I was working on a reading list of civil rights titles, and when it came time to narrow it down (I always go overboard with book suggestions), books about the Holocaust were the first I removed from the list, thinking—wrongly, it turns out—that antisemitism is not that prevalent in our society today. Everybody agrees that Nazis are bad, right? A week later, a gunman walked into a synagogue in Pittsburgh spewing antisemitic slurs and killed eleven congregants. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) recently reported that antisemitic incidents in our country increased 60% in 2017 over the previous year, and that such incidents taking place in K-12 classrooms increased by 90%. I find this absolutely shocking and unacceptable.
In the Christian tradition, Christmas is supposed to be a time of “peace on earth and good will toward men.” I’d like to see us extend that good will to all humans, not just a select group. Reach out a hand in friendship to someone who doesn’t look like you or worship like you. Learn about other traditions and celebrations. If we try, we can find more things we have in common than we have differences. To paraphrase The Smiths, we are all human, and we need to be loved.
For those of you celebrating this month, whether it be Christmas, Bodhi Day, Hannukah, Krampusnacht, Pancha Ganapati, Saturnalia, Winter Solstice, Yule, Newtonmas, Kwanzaa, Hogswatch, Festivus, or Decemberween, hopefully there’s something on this reading list for you. If not, tell us what kind of holiday materials we need to round out our library collection!
Seven Spools of Thread: a Kwanzaa Story by Angela Medearis
New Year Traditions Around the World by Ann Malaspina
The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer
Candlelight for Rebecca by Jacqueline Dembar Greene
Kirsten’s Surprise: a Christmas story by Janet Beeler Shaw
My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories Edited by Stephanie Perkins
Holiday Princess by Meg Cabot
Krampus: the Yule Lord by Brom
African American Holiday Traditions: Celebrating with Passion, Style, and Grace by Antoinette Broussard
Holiday Symbols and Customs Edited by Keith Jones
Hogfather: a novel of Discworld by Terry Pratchett
Festivus the Holiday for the Rest of Us by Allen Salkin
Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris