Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, just not in Hillsboro, Ore., schools this Christmas season. As station KATU reports, the school district sent out a memo to staff last Tuesday that reads in part:
You may still decorate your door or office if you like, but we ask that you be respectful and sensitive to the diverse perspectives and beliefs of our community and refrain from using religious-themed decorations or images like Santa Claus.
The district deserves some small credit for distinguishing between Santa Claus and religious-themed decorations: Name notwithstanding, Santa Claus carries no religious connotation whatsover in Western folklore, where is depicted as a jolly old elf who dispenses gifts.
The district loses the credit, however, by having drafted this foolish memo in the first place. Children don’t have to be Christian to love Santa Claus, as I can attest to firsthand. My own children grew up in a Jewish household but looked forward each year to sitting on Santa’s lap. In my own youth, I sang in my high school’s choir, and each Christmas we performed the “Hallelujah Chorus” from “Handel’s Messiah” with the school orchestra. The student body incidentally was 90% Jewish.
The article reports that Beth Graser, communications director for Hillsboro School District, “says she understands the frustration some people may have with regards to holiday decorations, but says, ‘It’s not meant to be that at all. Again, it’s just really a reminder to get people to be sensitive.'”
Oversenstive is the word she is actually looking for.