I get that this was done with the best of intentions, but it was ridiculous anyway.
The program I studied in college was a very specific one, and thus I didn’t have too many classmates. We all knew each other, and at the very least had some sort of acquaintanceship. The overall atmosphere was much closer to a work environment than a school, so imagine the dynamics of the office. It should also be noted that while I wasn’t the only non-christian there, I was the only one of my particular religious affiliation. You wouldn’t know it to look at or even spend some time with me as I’m pretty casual about it, but that has never stopped certain folks from making assumptions once they find out.
So holiday season roles around and things start to get pretty festive. Despite it not being “my” holiday and the lack of tree in my home, I enjoy this time of year. There are greetings of “merry Christmas!”, “happy Hannukah!”, “Eid mubarak!” and of course “happy holidays!”.. and basically whatever someone wishes me is what I wish back. It’s all good. Everyone should be able to celebrate their holiday as they see fit. Shortly before my class is meant to go on our holiday break posters go up informing us of the upcoming departments’ Christmas party. It was open to everyone, so no rsvp was required.. all we had to do was show up and enjoy. When I checked the actual date of the party, I realized I wouldn’t be able to attend. Boo, but I had other plans so what could I do?
About a week before the party one classmate asked me if I would be attending. I said I wouldn’t be able to, but that I hoped everyone would have a great time. They asked me if I actually celebrated Christmas and I said no, it’s not a part of my faith, but I love this time of year. The conversation petered out and I didn’t think anything of it. A few days later I noticed that the vibe towards me from a couple of other students seemed a little bit different. Not hostile or terribly off-putting, just different. Eventually the student who was in charge of the party came up and told me that he was sorry if I was offended, and that he hoped I’d come to the party now. I asked him why I would be offended and this is what he said to me:
“Well we knew you felt excluded because it’s a Christmas party and that’s why you’re not coming. We’ve changed the name and theme to a “holiday” party, so we really hope you’ll join us now!”
Basically the chatter was that I don’t actively celebrate this holiday and thus wasn’t going to attend this party as part of my tiny, passive-aggressive war on Christmas. Not only that, but they’d changed the whole thing to accommodate me! It certainly explained why I was getting weird vibes from some students. Even after I pointed out that it had nothing to do with my beliefs, but rather that I had obligations elsewhere, I continued to get some attitude. And they never changed it back to a “Christmas” party.
The saddest part is that, despite my “victory”, I still wasn’t going to attend. I already had a friends’ Christmas party to go to. 0608-11