2019 Dec Newsletter



This month we have two articles that are appropriate for this time of year. The first is a reminder to all of us to be mindful of the various religious and non-religious holidays or traditions that fall in or near December. The second article provides some useful self-care tips and reminders during this time of year. Thank you to our two parent contributors - Maya Resnikoff and Laura Ford. 

Being Mindful of Various Traditions by Maya Resnikoff

Holiday Self-Care by Laura Ford

Please remember that the ideas presented here represent the views of our individual contributors and should not be construed as representative of the entire Parent Association.

We seek to create a respectful atmosphere that allows space for a multitude of perspectives and so we welcome contributions from our parent community. If you would like to share your perspective, please contact the Diversity Committee <ps24diversity@gmail.com> or the Wellness Committee <ps24wellness@gmail.com>. 

We hope everyone has a good winter break. See you in 2020!




Although there are many holidays that fall around December, we should be mindful that not everyone is celebrating something at the same time, and some people do not celebrate anything during this time. This article provides an overview of some of the holidays that fall during or near December, and urges us all to be mindful of our neighbors' traditions as well as our own. 


Throughout American society we often hear December called “The Holiday Season.” Most religions have a holiday at this time of year, and there’s a “spirit of the season.” However, when you look closely, not only do we not all share in having a holiday at this time of year, but the holidays that do occur do not all share an underlying theme.

Outside of Christmas, people often cite the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah as a “December holiday.” Hanukkah celebrates a military victory of Jewish guerilla warriors over the Greek occupiers and their Hellenized Jewish allies, and a miraculous rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem afterward. But on the spectrum of Jewish holidays, it is a minor one -- far from a “Jewish Christmas.” Hanukkah gets its popular acknowledgment because it falls around Christmas — more significant Jewish holidays occur in the fall and spring. This year, it will be celebrated from December 22nd until December 30th, but can be as early as late November or early January.

Kwanzaa is a cultural holiday, rather than a religious one, created in 1966-1967. It lasts from December 26th to January 1st. It celebrates African-American culture, communal unity, and interdependence. It is celebrated with the lighting of a special candelabra, called a kinara, in which each candle stands for a particular value of the African-American community. Other observances include the performance of African arts and a feast.

Yule is a celebration of the Winter Solstice.  This celebration takes place on the longest night of the year and celebrates the return of the sun.  It is a time to honor the cycle of life, death, and rebirth and to reflect that one must never lose sight of hope.  This is the time to remind ourselves that even in darkness, light will return.

Bodhi Day, on December 18th this year, is a holiday celebrated by many Buddhist communities, celebrating the day that the historical Buddha achieved enlightenment. Main observances include meditation, acts of kindness, and the study and chanting of Buddhist texts. Some Buddhists also have a ceremonial meal of tea and cake.

And some of us don’t celebrate anything at all this time of year. Either we are secular or follow a religion without a holiday in December. For many Christians, the notion that December is the holiday season is a welcoming one, meant to include friends and acquaintances in the joys of a special and beloved holiday. But for those of us who celebrate very different holidays, or no holidays at all, “the holiday spirit” can feel inauthentic or forced.

If Christmas is a part of your life, you can make it a comfortable season for your non-Christian neighbors by keeping their own observances and calendars in mind, and give them your wishes on their own schedule, rather than on yours. Otherwise, a cheerful "How are you?" or "Wow, it's cold out" can be a welcome break from living on someone else's holiday calendar.



The holidays can be both a stressful and joyful time of year. It can be wonderful watching our children get wrapped up in all the activities—at school, with family and friends—but for parents the planning and extra duties on top of normal life can be exhausting. It may be helpful to take the days leading up to the holidays you celebrate to reflect on what keeps you sane and peaceful during a time which can be anything but.

Here are some self-care tips for your winter break:

  • Keep some semblance of a schedule. Not everyone’s kids can stay up until midnight with the cousins and not turn into monsters the next day. If you need to stay overnight apart from family members with different schedules, or enforce their bedtimes, that’s okay. You’re doing what’s best for your family.
  • Ease up on meals, if you can. Your kids won’t die from straight sugar and carbs for a week. Feeding some protein to them alongside the cookies and making sure they eat regularly throughout the day can help with mood crashes.
  • Take time for yourself. Being with family non-stop can be trying. Try to steal away for a walk, a movie, a yoga class … anything that grounds you and gives you sustenance during this time.
  • Limit social media, if necessary. Nobody’s holiday is as perfect or beautiful as it appears on Instagram. If you are sliding into a downward spiral of social media envy, take a break from it.
  • Simplify. Is your extended family willing to do a Yankee Swap or Secret Santa gift exchange instead of individual gifts? Small changes in traditions can make things easier.
  • Say no to the events or practices that feel more like obligations than holiday pleasures. It’s okay to not hit every party if it helps your family maintain sanity.