Monday, December 19, 2011
Just wanted to say, it is Easter, not Christmas, that is central to Christianity, the way I was brought up. Christ's birth may have been a miracle, but it was his resurrection that became the foundation of the faith. In the same way as Passover is more important than Chanukah. Providentially, Easter has not yet been over-commercialized.
Also: "scholarships for deserving students." Who are the deserving? Those whose parents scrimped and saved for a college fund, so they have access to some assets, or those whose parents spent every last dime and so have no savings? Or those who are doing really well academically, either through hard work or native talent? Just looking for some transparency.
Particularly in this day and age of supporting parents as well as children or extended family or helping out a friend who may be having financial troubles, I think this is awful. You never know and never make an assumption about someone's financial ability to give nor how they've planned their charitable giving for the year.
Myself, I brought small treats back from my last long vacation for each of the people in my immediate department. No one is getting a Christmas gift and I've not received any either. And we all seem to be okay with that. My last job we did exchange in my department and while it was fun, it was a lot of extra stress at the end of the year.
On the decorations front: wreaths and the like are not Christian. Even Christmas trees and Santa are not Christian. A nativity set is. Trees and wreaths and Rudolph are secular. At my previous employer, we had a Menorah, the Kwanza equivalent of a menorah (whatever the candle thing is) and a wreath. When questioned about it, we were told that the wreath was for the Christians. A nativity set got put up the next day and all was well with the world. This was at a formerly catholic, now private non-affli SLAC. High density Jewish population. So much so that we got off on Yom Kippur and a couple other holy days.
At my public U, there are many beautiful trees and wreaths at the main campus. We have a rather Charlie brown-esque tree that we brought in on our own. Just some red ornaments. And neither staff nor students have complained. And our students complain at the drop of a hat.
That's for damned sure. It doesn't seem that long ago that people greeted each other during the holidays as they saw fit and no one pitched a fit about it. Now we have self-involved and overly aggrieved "defenders" of Christmas who snap at people who bid them a cheery "Happy Holidays." And I think it's getting worse: At the pre-final review session I wished my class good luck on the final exam and expressed a hope that they would catch up on their sleep during "the semester break." One of my students actually scowled at me and muttered "Christmas break." Yeah. Good way to spread the "reason for the season." Bah, humbug!
Here we've done trips to the mall to buy something for the Salvation Army tree. I bite my tongue with my objections to SA & to being in ToysRUs in December, and try to see the goodheartedness in it.
I suppose I'm lucky that although I'm not a believer, I love Christmas on an asthetic level.
That way there is a sort-of gift exchange, with a bit of fun as everyone has something to open, but we donate it all instead of giving each other things no one needs/wants.
It seems to work well for everyone, for people of all backgrounds.
I am but half a step up from administrative assistant.
I don't feel comfortable with the tree (I'm part of a religious minority) but I feel even less comfortable saying that aloud. I would never, never, never let it be known to the Christmas Tree Defender, a person several light years beyond me in rank, that I disagree with his choice. I need my work environment to be tolerable now and I need him to serve as a reference for future jobs. As far as he is concerned, I am the most cooperative person on Earth. I'm not going to risk that over a Christmas tree.
But I find it appalling that we have it in a public space in a state school (I work in an office that serves students). I greatly miss our old chief, who left a few months back, and never went for this sort of thing.
Please don't assume staff aren't complaining because they don't care.
Over here on the other side of the Atlantic, things are rather simpler (my theory is that because all western European countries are largely irreligious, no-one really thinks of Christmas a religious event, and instead thinks of it as a very welcome festival of food and socialising in the depths of winter). I've never worked anywhere that exchanges gifts, and it would be regarded as a weird idea for all the reasons outlined by DD - when I was Head of Department, I bought token gifts for our department admin assistants, but they were very token indeed, just a gesture of thanks for seeing me through the year more or less sane. Some of us exchange cards, but rather patchily, given that each year some of us were too disorganised to send them, and no-one ever cared or took that personally. We have a tree (always lopsided and put up at the last minute), but again, this wouldn't be regarded as Christian, just festive. And we go for departmental drinks in the last week of teaching, but very informally and again, if people can't make it because of childcare/other social engagements, no-one thinks anything of it.
I now feel very grateful for all the above, having read these comments. Less religion, more sociability, would seem to be the answer, but that's clearly a wider societal issue.
Our CC puts up a Christmas tree right in the middle of the lobby of one of our busiest buildings (and the one I work in). I despise the tree but, as someone else noted, it is deemed necessary by the President of the CC so I am not going to bitch aloud.
We also have a wonderful poster board right next to the tree touting the music CDs for sale that are recordings of the President playing holiday and gospel music.
Did I mention that our CC has no religious affiliations? What a joke. If you aren't Christian then you are going to feel out of place, particularly at this time of year.
Unfortunately, all of the religious backlashing that is taking place is only going to be made worse by our offenses and tactics (and that goes for both sides). A college is a place for learning, and sometimes that means that we learn how to enjoy each other's practices (majority and minority included). Who cares what we call it... the learning comes from observing what this season means to each person and appreciating the beauty of that. We must lay down our offenses, and that's all there is to it.
On a final note, the previous post about Christmas symbols being secular is true; although, I would say they are more "pagan." If you look into the history of the Christmas tree, for instance, you will find that this tradition stems from the goddess of fertility. You will never take offense again! :)
Some years I mind more than others and of course to say anything is to be a jerk and buzzkill.