By now you might be wondering what the alternatives are to the current, and
less than successful, approaches to holidays that I have mentioned. You may
even be thinking that the problems with holidays are too complex to solve in
your program.

The answer lies in the choices you make as an early childhood teacher or
administrator. Below you’ll find my choices and those of the program I admin-
ister. I offer them to you not as a template but as how one administrator, one
staff, and one group of families have chosen to bring celebrations into young
children’s classrooms.

We include all families
Leaving holidays out of children’s classroom experiences can have negative
consequences, especially for those children whose holidays are not typically
reflected in the dominant culture. If you are a child (or adult) whose holidays
are not typically reflected in stores, in television programming, on holiday
cards, in decorations, and so on, knowing that your holiday is also omitted by
your early childhood program can be very painful (Sharon Cronin, interview
with author, April 1992). Excluding holidays from your program leaves out
important parts of many families’ lives.

We teach that different beliefs enrich all of our lives and
community It is extremely beneficial for children to hear the important adults in their lives
talk about the ways that people are alike and different from one another. This
is one of the basic tenets of the anti-bias approach to education and an impor-
tant foundation for children to acquire before they enter elementary school and
the increasingly diverse world beyond it.

One of the biggest gifts we can give children is learning to find joy in human
differences as well as to see connections between themselves and others.

Discussions about holidays in our community provide another opportunity to
do just that. Children can learn that many of us celebrate and that many of us
celebrate the same holidays in different ways. They can also learn that their
classmates may not celebrate what they do, but they can come to understand
that other people’s celebrations are just as important, just as worthy as their
own. When teachers model genuine interest in and respect for families’ home
practices, children learn the value of different practices and beliefs in enrich-
ing community.

In my program, families are invited to come in at any time of the year and
share a recipe, a story, a photo, a song, or an activity about a holiday that
is important in their home. During fall and winter holiday time, we might
have one family coming in each week to share with us. One week we might