Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas card frustration

My kids have been participating in a project that involves making cards for strangers. The cards are to go into gift bags for shut-ins. Nice project. But it bothers me a little that they were told not to put anything, you know, religious on the Christmas cards they make. They are not making Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Solstice cards. They are called, by the organizers, Christmas cards.

Of course we don't want to offend. We know that not everyone celebrates Christmas as a religious holiday. I understand and am trying to help my kids understand the cultural, secular holiday of Christmas. We know that Santa Claus really is St. Nicholas. I know all about the early Christians co-opting the pagan festivals and all that. I know that Christ was almost certainly not born on December 25.

Still, in the US, in December, an awful lot of people, including nonChristians, celebrate Christmas. Even agnostics I know have Christmas trees and buy Christmas gifts. They even use the word Christmas. They know what Christians are celebrating. They don't believe in it, but they are obviously sharing in it.

So it's hard to understand how a card with a nativity scene drawn by an 8 year old could offend someone. Imagine: here's a group of people who for whatever reason can't get out of the house. They don't have a lot of visitors and depend on a charitable organization to bring them food. They get a special gift bag at this time of year because, um, it's Christmas. Does anyone really think these people are going to be offended if there's a typical Christmas picture and sentiment on the card? Should we really take care to hide the religious aspect of Christmas from them?

Religious freedom doesn't include being sheltered from any signs of religion. Religious freedom shouldn't mean that adherents of one religion have to hide all signs of their belief for fear of offending the unbeliever.

Do you think anyone worries about offending a Christian by sending a "happy holidays" card with a snowman on it?


kerri said...

I'm offended by "happy holidays".

Maybe we should just boil it all down to 'have a nice day.' Think that could bother anyone?


Anonymous said...

This completely baffles me. I feel like asking people if they know what Christmas *IS*, exactly. And yes, I know about all the secular stuff too, but it boils down to a holiday that celebrates the birth of Christ. Why are people that are not Christians bothered by the mention of the actual meaning?