Just before the holidays, I had the great privilege of attending a winter solstice assembly at Maddie Rose’s elementary school. Families and friends were invited to attend, which made it feel like a community celebration, rather than simply a fun, school event. The second grade students were featured at this assembly, sharing paper lanterns that they made as well as videos they created where they shared what they learned about a variety of different winter holidays and traditions. Not only did we learn about Christmas, Hannukah, and Kwanzaa, but we also learned from them about Diwali, St. Lucia’s Day, Three Kings Day, Ramadan and of course the winter solstice.
The school is led by a marvelous principal who among other things, offers school –wide mindfulness meditations in the mornings and holds kindness, respect, acceptance, and diversity as core values for the school…this is a public school, I should add.
I was deeply moved by the assembly and so very grateful that my kiddo gets to attend a public school where diversity is valued and celebrated. This simple act of honoring a variety of holiday celebrations and traditions made acceptance of all, not only an integrated value, but so tangible, especially for the little ones like Maddie who don’t really have a deep understanding of what diversity means or what prejudice means or what discrimination means.
By acknowledging, honoring, and respecting these different traditions, I realized that every child had a reflection of their own lives and traditions, as well as a window into someone else’s lives and traditions. Everyone had a chance to be seen, heard, valued, honored, and celebrated! What a wonderful gift to kick off the holiday season, and what a great practice to bring into the new year – to value, honor, respect, accept and celebrate our own uniqueness, and to do so in others.
In a world right now where looking different, speaking a different language or practicing a different religion is often cause for suspect, fear, even ridicule, we need models like this to remind us that we are all of value and deserving of kindness, respect, acceptance and love.
May we move into this new year finding ways to learn from each other, to listen to each other, to celebrate and respect each other for the unique and special offerings we each bring to the world, and to realize that it’s in coming together with this mutual respect and value that we move forward and grow – as individuals, as a community.
Peace, Love, and Bliss,
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