Did you shield your child on that fateful day in September?

This past week, a school in Tennessee removed the graphic novel MAUS from its library due to inappropriate curse words and a depiction of a naked character. Keep in mind that this book uses illustrated mice and cats to tell the story of THE HOLOCAUST. That’s right, the parents in this school district are less concerned about the murder of 6 million Jewish people than the possibility that little Timmy might learn a new swear word that I’m sure he’s never heard before in the car.

Whether it’s MAUS or TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, another book that has seen its share of censorship, it’s nothing new that parents are so afraid that their children might feel some discomfort while learning about a world beyond their gaggle of friends on social media.    

Reading can and should challenge us. It’s OK to occasionally feel uncomfortable with a story that stretches our belief or an opinion we don’t share or understand. It’s called LEARNING. Fortunately, because of the news coverage on the book banning, MAUS is now reaching more readers than the author ever dreamed of.

MAUS reminds us that we can’t forget to teach our children of the horrific ramifications of racism and hate. On September 11, 2001, my children witnessed on news reports what I told them would be a defining moment in their lives. That evening, as a family, we watched the tragedy unfold in real-time on TV. While some parents shielded their young children from the horrors of that day, I believe my boys needed to see what humans are capable of doing to one another.

A documentary aired soon after on CBS, produced by filmmakers who just happened to be following firefighters on that fateful day. CBS made the right decision to air the special without editing out the gruesome scenes and the natural cursing by the firefighters. My husband and I could have decided that this special was too violent for young children and would make our kids uncomfortable. But isn’t that the point?    

Thank you, Tennessee parent, for opening our eyes to the importance of MAUS and all those other books that make our children think.

Heidi McCrary is a writer and Author. Her novel, CHASING NORTH STAR is available at Kazoo Books, This is a Bookstore, and online wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor

Is Thanksgiving Canceled?

The note below recently followed students home in their backpacks from an elementary school…

Dear Parent / Caregiver,

In respect to all of our students, please note that we will no longer be celebrating the holidays of Halloween and Valentine’s Day at school. Thank you for keeping your child’s Halloween costume at home.  

In recognition of the individual cultures and lifestyles of their students, many schools are rethinking how and if they should be acknowledging holidays and events that were a given in the era of their student’s parents and caregivers. Gone, are the days of children parading through the hallways in Batman and witches’ costumes. And to help alleviate children from feeling excluded, mailboxes made from decorating shoeboxes to hold Valentine’s Day cards are now a distant memory.    

It’s the next step in what is sometimes unjustly being labeled as Cancel Culture. It wasn’t that long ago when schools acknowledged that Christopher Columbus didn’t really discover America, since the country was already inhabited by Indigenous People wrongly labeled by white Europeans as Indians.

Which brings us to the topic of Thanksgiving. What was once a day to celebrate the coming-together of Pilgrims and Indians, is now a holiday in question, as we learn and recognize that this story is for the most part fictitious, overriding the truth in what was more likely the hostile arrival of people invading the land of Native Americans.

But acknowledging that Thanksgiving is currently a flawed holiday should not stop us from celebrating a day centered around “putting down our weapons” and gathering around the kitchen table for great food and conversation. We need to absolutely recognize and celebrate the true first inhabitants of our country and we should welcome the true meaning of Thanksgiving. Unlike with Christmas, another holiday that embraces family gatherings, Thanksgiving comes without the commercial trappings of artificial Christmas trees and the need to power-shop on Amazon for the latest tech gadgets and toys.

After all, Halloween is just a silly holiday that has morphed from children going door-to-door in search of Snickers bars to grownups throwing elaborate costume parties and front lawns lit up like Christmas. And Valentine’s Day is nothing more than a faux holiday powered by Hallmark, florists, and department stores, encouraging us to buy jewelry and grossly overpriced roses. Perhaps, it’s time we take a step forward and take Thanksgiving in its literal context. A time for Thanks.

Thanksgiving is a holiday that can and should survive the Cancel Culture movement. As schoolbooks are rewritten to tell the true story of Indigenous People, let us celebrate our true first inhabitants of America. And let Thanksgiving continue to be a time when we gather with our family – without the wrapped gifts and without inflatable reindeer on the front lawn. Just turkey legs, stuffing, and love. And football.

Now, if we can just get rid of Black Friday…

Heidi McCrary is a writer and a regular contributor to Moxie Magazine. Her novel, Chasing North Star is available at Kazoo Books, This is a Bookstore, and online wherever books are sold. Follow Heidi at heidimccrary.net and facebook.com/HeidiMcCraryAuthor