Holidays Have Meaning

September 6, 2010 by  
Filed under Education, Parenting

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Well, Labor Day is upon us here in the US. Another opportunity to cook out, light sparklers and shoot off fireworks. I love 3 or 4-day weekends; and kids particularly love the days off from school. What I find these days is that holidays are just that—a chance to be out of school or parents home from work. Most kids I see don’t have a clue why they are off; they just know that they are off. What a shame!

Most kids don’t know the significance of our historical holidays, or the difference between Memorial Day, Labor Day and Veterans Day. They don’t give these holidays a second thought. The only significance they hold is a chance to be off and perhaps do special family activities.

Growing up in the North, Labor Day weekend was, for me, the last hoorah before a new year of school began. No one asked about the significance of the day; who knew? The same can be said for Veterans Day, President’s Day, Martin Luther King Day and even Thanksgiving. Each of these days was designated as a holiday for a reason and should hold special meaning. Some holidays are particularly significant for different groups of people. For example, for those who have lost loved ones in a war, Memorial Day touches their hearts. For those who fought and were fortunate to return home, Veterans Day is celebrated by them and their families. For those who experienced the degradation of segregation, Martin Luther King Day is particularly poignant. And yet, these should not be considered special interest group holidays. They ought to be of significance to us all.

Years ago, I was hired by a Catholic School to provide psychological services to their students. I was amazed to see that Good Friday was a scheduled day of classes. Now, my husband who worked for an elevator company had the day off, but I was expected to work—in a Catholic School on one of their most holy days! So, I asked; and was given a very enlightened answer. I was told that if they closed the schools, the students would have a day off without meaning. But keeping them in school provided an opportunity for them to be taught the true spirit and significance of the day. What a novel idea!

So, here’s what I suggest: Whether the holiday has personal meaning or no personal connection whatsoever, I encourage you to teach your kids historical lessons that explain just why school is closed or why parents are off. Let them enjoy their long weekends off, with a better understanding and appreciation for those who have left their indelible mark on this country.

Enjoy your kids!


One Response to “Holidays Have Meaning”
  1. Andrea says:

    I always knew as a child that Memorial Day was the start of summer and Labor day was the end of summer, time to go back to school. Growing up with a father who is a Holocaust survivor and a Korean War Vet I was made well aware of these days off of school! It was either spending the day in Temple praying or going to a war memorial! My best friend, her oldest child is of mixed nationalities and when it’s Martin Luther King Day she is usually marching with him in a parade so that he understands where he comes from!
    I feel every parent should do something like this with their children when these holidays come around. Not for an entire day but maybe a few hours so they truly understand what it means to be an American and to live free in this country and what our men and women of the armed services do for us.