Ah, what a magical time of year! ‘Tis the season to both make warm and fuzzy memories for the majority of the population all while alienating and/or denigrating the minorities. Where staff hang garlands and deck their halls although they feel incredibly uncomfortable with this practice – all while feeling required to participate in the celebrations or be considered a Grinch or Scrooge who is waging a personal war against Christmas. Oh man, that Elf on the Shelf at the library is so gonna tattle on that person! Don’t forget to put out the token menorah!
But let’s take a step back and look at a group of Christmas celebrators who may feel alienated by your library’s Christmas decor: those in mourning. Over the past three years my husband and I have had three major loved ones die – two in this year alone. And let me tell you what: neither one of us feels like slapping on a fake smile in order to make others feel good about this time of year. We are surrounded by constant reminders that we will never again have a Christmas together with those we’ve lost. It sucks to say the very least.
Over the course of the years that I’ve been writing this blog, I have had a major shift in how I view holidays at the library. Because our community overwhelmingly celebrates Christmas, I thought that I was doing what was best by making our space join in on the festivities. Now I feel incredibly uncomfortable with this. Last year I chose to keep up my previous holiday blog posts. This year I removed them. Why? Because of horrible anti-Semitic, racist, xenophobic, Islamophobic comments written on posts of Storytime Underground‘s Facebook group. On Christmas-related posts. This is a youth services librarian group. These things were being said by youth service librarians. Merry Christmas?
So, this year I have decided to not participate in feeding the Christmas beast. I mean, if you can’t put together a Christmas-tastic program or come up with ways to decorate your library on your own? Um. Maybe make time for learning how to use Pinterest and/or google “library christmas decor.” You will find an overabundance of help and ideas – just no longer on this blog.
Instead, I’ve decided to put together several posts highlighting winter holidays that somehow get constantly ignored. These are ones that, for whatever reason, all-inclusive children-level holiday-program celebrating librarians tend to leave out (although they automatically leave out Atheists or others who just don’t do holidays – this is why I’m specifically focusing on Children’s programming/decor because if you’re gonna be all-inclusive, there must be a discussion about how Santa isn’t real, and that’s more of an Adult thing that I could write another entire blog post on). These are holidays that could cause controversy because they’re not warm ‘n fuzzy, or not celebrated by as many people in the US.
In the comments section of another site’s pandering post about holiday celebrations in the library (I’m choosing not to link to it), a librarian joked that finding a picture book on Satanic holidays wasn’t going to happen.
My immediate thought?
So, I’m putting other posts on hold for now until 2017 (including this year’s awesome non-holiday Decemberley theme that has warm fuzzies out the wazoo). Until then I will be putting together alternative holiday programs for youth service librarians. The posts will have sign templates, imagery that can be used in displays, passive program ideas, etc.
All of this said, I am in no way an expert in any of these celebrations, so if you celebrate any of them that I cover, then I’d truly appreciate your thoughts and reactions to what I’ve created. I want to get it right. Though, I truly do believe that libraries should not do holidays. If you want to help the sad children who won’t have a Christmas without the library’s intervention? Then please help those children by volunteering your time and talents to local organizations – that would be awesome and way more appropriate.
Finally, I have two thank yous to share:
I’d like to thank the youth service librarian who gave me the idea for this series. She very seriously wrote to me that she would absolutely love to see a Krampusnacht display at her public library since it’s one of her favorite holidays and Christmas is super-de-dooper represented with their decor. You know who you are – and you’re gonna be thrilled with the kick-off post for this series.
And to the librarian who joked about Satanic picture books: I appreciate the shove that you gave me to make a difference in this world. I think it’s gonna be great.
Here’s links to the various celebrations as they are posted: