Diversity Lesson from a Six Year Old by Christina Stewart

December Holidays.jpg

My six year old daughter came home from school a couple of weeks ago with a December calendar of events. As you can imagine, it’s chock full of Building Gingerbread Houses Day, Pajama Day, Skating Day, Nutcracker Performances and the usual round of Holiday Concerts – pretty standard stuff for the lead up to the winter break.  But there, tucked amongst Breakfast with Santa, Christmas Day and Making Candy Canes were a couple of other dates.  Namely – the first day of Hanukkah on December 13 and Kwanza on December 26. When I asked my daughter if she knew about the dates, she shrugged “Of course,” she said, “They are important days that people celebrate.” That’s right, of course they are. It’s so nonchalant and just plain old ordinary to my six year old that some people celebrate this and some people celebrate that. 

No big deal.  How refreshing. 

Life should just be that way this time of year. How about you celebrate this and I’ll celebrate that? Let’s not make it matter what you celebrate or what I celebrate; how about we all just celebrate what we want (or nothing at all!) and we let everyone else have their own beliefs. How cool would it be if someone were comfortable enough to say “Merry Christmas” to a stranger on the street and hear a reply of “Happy Hanukkah” and know it meant that you were both just being yourselves and feeling your own warmth and affinity toward your beliefs. Me celebrating what I want doesn’t take a thing away from what anyone else believes.

The political correctness of saying “Happy Holidays” is paved with great intentions, however, when we really want to create diversity and inclusion in our workforces and in our communities, we need to be learning about other cultures, creating space for others to share and sharing our own stories too. The depth of diversity in Canada can easily be overlooked if we only focus on the commercialization of the holiday season – as is pretty evident with the number of plastic Santas out there. In order to create that diversity I urge you to look past the twinkling lights and learn about other cultures, make zero expectations that people are celebrating anything specific or anything at all, and perhaps like my daughter, circle some celebrations beyond your own on the December calendar.