At Compass Early Learning & Care, our teams have been thinking about different ways to look at holidays. Our work and learning about anti-bias education helps us to understand that belonging and inclusion are complex. Living our lives in the dominant culture can sometimes make it difficult to notice our bias or privilege. “Bias isn’t bad. It is just the way our minds work to help us navigate the world,” explains Amber Cabral in the book Allies & Advocates. As we notice that so many of the holidays associated with time off are rooted in Christian celebrations, we wish to think within our teams about a shift from what we celebrate toward more meaningful discussions of how we celebrate.
When we begin to explore the meaning behind our celebrations and traditions, we notice similarities as well as differences. Many celebrations include things such as:
- Making good memories
- Spending time with family
- Pausing, being mindful, reflecting, being grateful
- Feeling joyful
- Engaging in meaningful activities together
As we reflect on what makes celebrations meaningful, we realize it is the small, special things that we do with people we love, that matter more than the underlying holiday. What becomes important then, is to really get to know the children and families in our programs, and understand what makes them happy and feel special and celebrated.
Within each of our teams, we are having conversations about what we celebrate throughout the year, and why, as well as considering how it connects to Compass’ values. Thinking about this ahead of time avoids awkward conversations immediately before a holiday, when people may have different understandings. If we consider more non-denominational celebrations such as solstices and equinoxes, we can find ways to include families in ways that are inclusive of everyone, with a focus on land, water, weather, light, etc. We can consider how our celebrations meaningfully translate to the children. Removing traditions rooted in specific religious or dominant ideas opens up way more creativity as we think together about what we want to bring in from our own experiences, and how we wish to make meaning through new traditions.
We know that joyful moments impact brain development and support the growth of trusting relationships. What are some universal moments that would offer windows into other worlds and mirrors for children to feel their identity and family is represented here? Each month there are so many moments that we could bring attention to and celebrate together with children. Which extraordinary moments in the ordinary day-to-day will your team decide to celebrate and why? How will you minimize the consumerism and waste that often underlies holidays and instead emphasize the relationships that are the true meaning of celebrations?
“Life should not only be lived, it should be celebrated” ~ Osho
Co-written by Arju Begum, Dianne Traynor, Anna Jennings, & Hanah McFarlane