“I hear that there are some kids in the White House this year…and in schools throughout Hoboken.” This is an adaptation of a quote that is prominently featured on the 2011 White House Christmas Ornament depicting Santa Claus traveling across the White House lawn. This ornament made me think about the unfortunate situation that recently occurred at a Hoboken public school when a visit from Santa Claus was stopped by the Board of Education.
As a child growing up in Hoboken, the city was always bustling with many cultural and religious festivals and celebrations throughout the year. Neighbors participated and shared in the “fun and excitement” of these events, whether or not they represented their own personal beliefs or background. Parents taught their children to respect and embrace the cultures and religions of their schoolmates, neighbors and friends.
Sadly, it appears things in Hoboken are not this way anymore.
As a parent raising children in Hoboken today, I feel that one of the greatest benefits of living in such a diverse community is the opportunity to teach my children about different cultures and religions, and in doing so, I hope for them to be understanding, respectful and embracing of all cultures and religions. Too many wars have been fought; too many lives have been lost because people do not simply respect or understand one another. This fundamental life lesson is one that must be taught at a young age, and the Hoboken Board of Education’s recent decision has taught school children that avoiding cultural celebrations – if they are not your own – is acceptable.
The Board of Education should encourage students to learn about various cultures and customs throughout the entire year, sometimes on the same day, and sometimes on different days.
If this policy is adapted, it will be a holiday gift to our children that will last a lifetime.
Yes, Hoboken, there is a Santa Claus!
As Francis Pharcellus Church wrote in The Sun’s response to Virginia, “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”
Angelo M. Valente