Confessions of an Anonymous Coward

Thursday, January 18, 2007

An Incomplete World

I was going to just tack this onto the end of the previous post, but it got long enough I figured I'd give it a post by itself.

While I'm on the topic of bringing up things from earlier posts, I also mentioned in another post that I had spent the holidays at my parents' house while my brother was in town. I'm not going to go into detail about my holidays, but there is one thing I thought might be worth mentioning.

I went with my family to Disneyland, and at one point--okay, actually at two or three points--some of us, at my brother's young sons' request, went on the Small World ride. The Small World ride was refitted for the holidays, and even temporarily renamed "It's a Small World Holiday".

I sat next to my nephews, and pointed out, especially for the oldest of them (six years old, turning seven in a few months), which countries the different scenes were supposed to represent. He asked a lot of questions, and in particular asked several times which country was the one where they celebrate Hanukkah, which he had learned about in school.

I actually wouldn't have noticed it if he hadn't asked, but--you know, there was absolutely no hint of Hanukkah anywhere in the Small World Holiday ride, or for that matter of any other holiday except Christmas. Well, okay, and a bit about the New Year. (Though, in the fireworks display that night, the music did include the dreidel song, so I guess Disney isn't completely ignoring non-Christian holidays.) I'm certainly not one to get up in arms about focusing on Christmas--despite what impression I may have given in this post--, but the omission of acknowledgment of other holidays in the Small World ride seems particularly odd, since the ride is all about multiculturalism. That's the whole theme of the ride. So, while normally it wouldn't seem out of place for a "holiday" retheming to concentrate on Christmas, for a ride that's ostensibly all about celebrating different cultures, it seems...odd.

Ah, well. I really don't think it's all that big a deal--like I said, I don't know that it even would have occurred to me had my nephew not specifically asked about Hanukkah--, and I don't want to seem like I'm blowing it out of proportion. It just struck me as kind of odd, that's all.

As for my nephew, I explained to him that there was no one country where Hanukkah was celebrated; it just depended on what religion you were. Though, conversely, in the last room of the ride--which contained a mélange of figures representing countries all over the world--he said that he thought two particular figures must be Americans, because they were dressed as angels. It took me a second to figure out his course of reasoning--apparently he figured that that they were dressed as angels meant they were celebrating Christmas, and if they were celebrating Christmas they must be Americans (despite all the Christmas paraphrenalia in the previous rooms representing different continents). So I told him, too, that Christmas wasn't only celebrated in America. I think it's interesting, though, that he assumed it was. I wonder if this is a common assumption among American children? (I really can't say I remember whether I thought that when I was my nephew's age or not.)


At 1/23/2007 10:12 AM, Blogger Delta said...

Religion is such a strange phenomenon that it's interesting to see how young children approach it. Children are pretty simple-minded, and religion in all its oddness, must take some time to be "understood" by them.

At 1/23/2007 9:07 PM, Blogger Qalmlea said...

I do have a memory from first grade. We were making star-shaped Christmas ornaments with our pictures on them as gifts for our parents. One of my classmates got a circle-shaped one instead. The explanation given was that his family didn't celebrate Christmas. (Not sure, but I suppose they might have been Jewish)

I remember being puzzled by this. And I think I thought it was sad that he wasn't going to get Christmas presents. And that was it. Just puzzlement, mainly.

At 1/24/2007 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One paragraph made it sound like you were a little reluctant to even write this entry because you didn't want it to seem like you were blowing the issue out of proportion. Just wanted to say, in case you're faced with a similar decision in the future - I think your entry was appropriate, and thanks for writing it. Like you said, the whole point of the ride is multiculturalism. It seems very odd, indeed, that they wouldn't show other religions' winter holidays.

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