It’s Christmas.  I’m not a Christian.  So of course, when word gets out, I become the Official Spokesperson for Minority Religions on the Incredibly Important Question:

Is it offensive for me to give you a Christmas card?

There are variants, of course.  Can I wish you a Merry Christmas, or does it have to be Happy Holidays?  (Nobody bothers asking me whether Baha’is celebrate any holidays in December.  We don’t.)  Can I get you a gift?  Offer cookies? Do you mind if I hang up ornaments in our shared space?

Sometimes it’s cute.  One parent of a student handed me a card, saying quickly in one flustered breath, “I know you’re not Catholic or anything, but I got you a Christmas card.  I couldn’t remember if you were Jewish or Muslim, I know it’s one or the other; I don’t mean it to be offensive or anything but here’s a card for you.”  So awkward and adorable.  And so unnecessary.

Here’s the thing: I don’t care.

It doesn’t bother me that you were thinking of me during your holiday season.  Why on earth would it?  I have no objection to having my next week being happy, merry, joyful, blessed, or any other adjective of your choice.

Please don’t expect me to display your card on my door, because I won’t.  It will probably get donated or cut up for collage materials.  And please don’t expect me to return the favor and get a Christmas card for you, because that is unreasonable in this diverse world.  In return, I promise not to care that you don’t bake me Ayyam-i-Ha cookies in February, even though I’ll make them for you.  Don’t worry about remembering the date of Naw-Ruz, because I’ll have a happy one whether you tell me to or not.  Really!  It’s okay.

Holidays are such a tiny part of what it means to have a religion.  The other 360 days of the year, you don’t worry about offending me by not understanding my habits of prayer, meditation, study, or service.  Why start now?  Please consider that for a moment.  Why does this matter so much to you?  How much is about your faith, and how much is about advertising?

To let you in on a secret, I adore caroling.  All those old songs about the birth of Christ make me happy.  I’m so hardcore that I can sing “O Come, All Ye Faithful” in Latin. No kidding.  I love singing alto with a group, I love taking evening walks with people, and I love sharing music with others.  I love being around people who decide to pick up their religion and paint the world beautiful.  If this is what your Christmas is about, why on earth would I be offended?  A little beauty?  A little hope?  A little peace?

For me, I’ll take the day off work and gladly spend the time eating with my half-Jewish, half-Christian, sprinkled liberally with “other”, family.  Happily.  Merrily, even.

Have a lovely weekend, whether you’re celebrating miracles or marmalade.  I’ll try to do the same.

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