On our way home from school this afternoon, DS1 mentioned that a girl in his class told him ‘there is no such thing as Santa Claus.’ Glancing in my rear view mirror I could see DD nod her head knowingly. ‘Yep’, she added. ‘My friend told me that too.’
The school my kids attend, like most in Dubai, has 40+ nationalities. They are exposed to a wonderfully, colourful array of celebrations from many different cultures, as well as having the opportunity to share theirs with their friends and classmates. Whilst I love the fact that the kids are immersed in such a diverse society, I have anticipated that their belief in Santa might not last as long as it might otherwise have done if they were growing up where many more children believe in Santa, and celebrate Christmas. This saddens me a little. I had hoped for one more Christmas of all 3 of them believing in Santa and making the morning of the 25th December as magical as those in years gone by.
Don’t get me wrong. From what I can tell, the school has effortlessly achieved an enviable balance of respecting Christmas without injecting it with any form of religious subtext. Every December, the children showcase a fantastic Christmas production which has every parent well up with pride. A far cry from a nativity play (think kids boogying on down to the most popular songs in the year gone by), but it works; Christmas is marked but in an inclusive way (and without direction from meddling politicians – just had to get that in!). Behind the scenes, in the classrooms, Christmas cards and gifts are exchanged. Parties are held and the festive season is celebrated with as much gusto as other religions’ holidays.
Back to my car chat.
Me: Well, not everyone celebrates Christmas.
DS1: Muslims don’t.
DD (going on her experience): Some Muslims do.
DS2: R is Muslim and he doesn’t celebrate Christmas!
DS1 (who happens to be R’s best friend!): R is NOT Muslim. He is Hindoooooo (his emphasis, not mine!).
DD: (attempting to bring calm to the conversation) NOT all religions celebrate Christmas.
DS2: Yeah, and then there’s the Canadians!
Thank you DS2 for the distraction! (says Mummy proud of the fact that my trio are learning about different cultures).
PS – I relayed this conversation to a Canadian colleague who commended the brilliance of my 5 year old to recognise ‘Canadian’ as a religion! Probably an automatic qualification for citizenship!! Yay!!