From the Farm:
Published in the Casper Journal April 26, 2011
Happy New Year! Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Happy Easter! At our house, we love holidays and celebrate them to the fullest. From green pancakes on St. Patrick’s Day, to egg hunts at Easter, we do it all.
Holidays in Wyoming are a bit different than in Las Vegas. Be it Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Easter, Vegas celebrates holidays with a bit of a twist.
The first clue I had that Vegas wasn’t “holiday happy” was when my son was in kindergarten. As my first school child, I was excited to celebrate the holidays in his classroom. A week before Halloween, we received a note from the teacher explaining the school would celebrate “Nevada Day” on Oct. 31 in memory of Nevada’s statehood. (Yes, Nevada became a state on Halloween.) Only western costumes were allowed. I swallowed my disappointment that he would have to save his official costume for trick-or-treating and helped him pick out a pair of chaps, western vest and a cowboy hat to wear to school. When we arrived, I expected to see cowboys and cowgirls milling around everywhere. Instead, all of the other boys were wearing sombreros! My son was the odd man out.
The next holiday was Thanksgiving. I recalled my own “Thanksgiving Feast” as a first-grader and anticipated helping out in the classroom with a festive meal. However, when the note from the teacher came home, the holiday was called a “harvest feast.” Yes, fall is definitely harvest time, so the teacher was politically correct. “What about the Thanksgiving feast of the pilgrims?” I wondered.
In December, I began to grow wary of school holidays. Sure enough, a note came home about a “Winter Concert.” At the concert we heard the children sing about Santa Claus and Rudolph, dreidels and Kwanzaa. At the end of the evening, the music director stood and invited us to sing “Silent Night,” as a standard American tradition. I breathed a sigh of relief. There was a touch of Christmas in the concert.
When February rolled around, we learned all about Black History Month, with barely a mention of Presidents Lincoln or Washington. On Feb. 14, the children were invited to exchange “friendship cards.” No, I’m not Catholic. I don’t know much about St. Valentine, but our family certainly celebrates Valentine’s Day. At home that night we decorated our sugar cookies and exchanged pink hearts.
In April, another note invited the children to bring filled, plastic eggs for the “Dinosaur Hunt.” I must admit, I’ve never seen a real, live Easter Bunny. But then again, aside from bones in a museum, I’ve never seen a dinosaur either.
Yes, I’m glad to be in Wyoming. Our family celebrates Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. We do all of them whole-heartedly. We dress up. We cook special food. We hang decorations. All of the holidays didn’t stem from our personal religious beliefs, but they’re American, and we are, too.
When I lived in Japan, I wore a yukata in August and enjoyed the Obon parades. I watched families set lights on the water in memory of their dead. Over New Year’s I ate mochi and gathered with friends at the temples to observe. I’m not Buddhist, but I enjoyed the celebration. It was Japan!
This is America, and some celebrations are just American. I don’t mind adding holidays to represent a variety of nationalities, but let’s not forget some of our original customs. Besides, traditions provide comfort and stability to children. I don’t want that comfort watered down.
So, if you see me on the street some time, I may just say, “Happy President’s Day!”, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!”, “Happy Easter.” No political correctness here. We celebrate as often as we can. Can I say it again? Glad to be in Wyoming, proud to be an American.