The students were all gathered around, eyes glued on the pictures. I was reading Snowmen at Christmas to a group of third graders per the teacher’s instructions. The illustrator cleverly hid certain items in each picture to find such as a mouse and a santa face, and the kids were on the lookout.
The book tells about what the author would imagine snowmen do after everyone is in bed at Christmas. A little bit of an interruption happened when I got to this passage:
“Such fun snowmen have!
But there’s still one more thing —
With hearts full of joy
They hold hands and they sing.
While the fiddler plays,
And sweet silver bells ring,
They sing songs about snow,
And the birth of a King.”
“What are they talking about?? There’s no king in that picture!” declared one indignant little girl.
I momentarily debated how to answer her question. I decided to be honest. “Well, many people who celebrate Christmas are Christians. The holiday to them is a celebration of the birth of Jesus, and they refer to him as a king. That’s the king they are talking about.”
“WHAT?!?!? she responded in obvious disbelief and confusion.
“Yes. And his mother was Mary, and his father was Joseph, and he was born in a stable…” one of the other little girls continued as girl number one simply looked baffled.
And then at that point I kept reading, because I didn’t really care to lose my very part-time job for bringing too much religion into the classroom.
This is one of the things I love about public school…the diversity of backgrounds and opinions. Why do we sometimes fear people who think differently than we do? At times we act as if it is contagious. We can miss out on rich relationships when we snub those who do not believe just as we do. Maybe I am too guilty of seeing where we have common ground instead of focusing on our differences, but I’ll take that criticism.
I have thought a lot about the idea of “Where is the King?” since that day. I reflected on the hullabaloo over the Starbucks plain red cup and the indignation over the phrase Happy Holidays. One of the things I have concluded is that the King is wherever we choose for him to be. In other words, I feel like it’s up to me to make him visible. It’s up to me to be sure my boys know why we celebrate Christmas. It’s up to me to make sure Christ stays in Christmas. For some it’s a holiday with a tree, presents, and Santa. So be it, but I need to reflect to others why I celebrate.
So whatever holiday you celebrate this time of year, I sincerely hope it’s enjoyable for you. As for me, I hope to focus on keeping the king in the picture.
Watch a video of the book here.