Back in January, I wrote on Leading Tolerance. Leading tolerance is moving beyond the concepts of diversity and multiculturalism and engaging in actions that demonstrate a willingness to coexist with those opinions and behaviors different from one’s own. It does not mean agreement with a differing perspective, but respect for that alternative perspective.
I believe leading tolerance is imperative in today’s world. Librarians are in a unique position not only to spearhead this path, but that the fundamental values of librarianship make this a responsibility. This is why I don’t decorate the library for Christmas.
I am aware that most Americans celebrate the holiday, including those who are not Christian. I am aware that the media and retail industry have tried to make this religious holiday secular, but by definition, it is not. However, I am one of the few who do not celebrate this particular holiday. There have been times when I have celebrated, and now I can admit I did so out of peer pressure. I did so because I felt like the only person in the country who was not celebrating Christmas.
Personally, it felt hypocritical being pressured to engage in a holiday that I felt should be religious, when I was not. Feeling this way, and choosing to celebrate other seasonal traditions, I have become very aware that is it impossible to avoid Christmas. Iconography is present from the grocery store to the television, to driving a mile down almost any roadway.
I do not mind that others celebrate, but I do mind that when I tell people I do not, the response is often harshly critical. I also mind that from October to New Year’s there is almost no place I can go where I am not bombarded with the holiday to the point of being overwhelmed.
Those of us who do not celebrate Christmas may be few and far between, but the irony is during this season of love, peace, and good will, many feel anything but those things. For that reason, I do not decorate the library for Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza. I stick with neutral motifs of snow, snowmen, and the New Year in order to support all patrons. I want my library to be a safe haven for everyone, and in this way, I try to lead tolerance by not decorating the public, secular space of the library for Christmas.