Whither Family Day

Happy Family Day holiday if you’re from a jurisdiction that celebrates it.

Or is it such a happy day?  It certainly was chosen well in the middle of winter to give an extra day of sunlight for those who go to work in the dark and return in the same.

I was fortunate, as a teacher, to have this as a recognized holiday.  Some school districts also negotiate for a professional day on the Friday to make for a four day stretch of no students in class.  My wife, being employed in an essential service, didn’t always have the day to spend with us.

This morning, I happened on this story What’s open and closed this Family Day outlining openings and closing in Toronto.  And, in Windsor Family Day: What’s open, what’s closed in Windsor.

That sort of shoots down the theory that this is a holiday.  In fact, it’s only a holiday for some.  When you think about it, many of these places will be open and operated by secondary school students and others making goodness knows how little.  On top of that, add the essential services – police, firefighters, nurses, heath care providers, snow plough drivers if it snows, etc.  Then there are the homeless; I don’t think that you’ll find them taking a day to be with family.  In addition, there will be those that have negotiated with their employer for a different day.

What does family mean anymore?  In this day and age, it’s hardly a consistent mother, father, 2.4 children, and a dog.  You know all the various permutations because, as an educator, you see them all enter your classroom daily.

And, they’ll be back on Tuesday.

Just like the return from the winter holidays, it’s important to recognize that not everyone will have had the wonderful “Family Day” that was the original goal of the holiday.  In fact, the return to your classroom may be the best thing to happen to them since last week.

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4 thoughts on “Whither Family Day

  1. Such a great point, Doug! I remember teaching in a school where, for many kids, the return to school was more exciting than being off. Now, I teach in the opposite. For me, a long weekend after Communications of Learning have been written and distributed is kind of nice. I actually read a book for pleasure this weekend. Yay!! But how do we recognize that an extra day might not be happy for everyone? Should the holiday cease to exist, or are there other supports that can be in place instead? What might they be? Is it also about knowing that some kids will return to our classrooms on Tuesday feeling refreshed, and others might feel stressed? Could the same be true for adults? Maybe it’s about preparing for these diverse feelings. I’m very curious to hear what others think.

    Aviva

  2. Thanks, Doug

    I’m just back from a lovely long weekend of this me spent enjoying the trails at our local cross-country ski centre, and sharing some good time with my in-laws. That included shovelling, roof clearing and breaking a channel through icy surfaces for the forecast inundation, as well as checking that we have enough wood in the sugar shack woodshed. Good times, outside together. I appreciated the reminder that family day is kind of a weighted holiday, by its very name, which hadn’t really occurred to me before.

    I have to admit that I was happy that I have 6 step-siblings, as it meant that someone probably either hosted my mom and her husband or visited, which meant I was able to do the above “seasonal maintenance” for my in-laws. I also agree with Aviva that teachers who are just done term 1 reports may actually have some time to engage with their families.

    Maybe the day does need another name. I know it’s Riel day in Manitoba….

  3. I have been in challenging schools in which the behaviour of students before and after the holiday was difficult because they were faced with the prospect of being home with their parents for extra time. Many of our students counted on the routine, consistency and support of being at school. Now I find myself at the other end of the spectrum in a situation in which students are not living in poverty but they are indulged and spoiled in many cases. There are more parallels than you think. So many of these children are onlys and will spend their two week holiday alone with their nannies or drivers. For some if they do see their parents it will be on a lavish vacation where they are treated to all that their heart desires. For these students many of them can not wait to return to school to the love, attention and comfort of their teachers. Teachers often undervalue the impact they have on the daily lives of their students. So many make such a difference in so many small and subtle ways. Today many of them will be a very welcomed smiling face!

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