Every year, I face the same problem. I go to my local drustore, stand in the greeting card aisle, and stare at the rows of holiday cards. Some are snarky, with images of drunk reindeer dancing with a red-faced Santa. Others are religious, with symbols of Christmas or Hannukah of Kwanzaa. And then others are scrubbed clean of any meaning with blurred stars or landscape scenery. With all of these choices, I always have the same dilemma:
What card can I choose that will least offend people this holiday season?
A few years ago, I fell in love with Christmas cards that depicted the birth of Christ from a child's persepctive. Ill and dying children from a hospice in Minnesota drew their interrpetation of the Nativity story, and the cards were sold as a fundraiser for the organization. I promptly bought several and sent them out, thinking I was doing something good while expressing my faith. Not so. Shorthly thereafter, I was approached by an acquaintance who told me that, while she understood the intent behind the card, she couldn't agree with it because she was an atheist. Please, she said, stop sending anything with Jesus on it. Within days,I heard similar complaints from several other people for because they either didn't believe in the story or because the religious overtones made them uncomfortable. What had started out as something I thought was sweet and supportive turned into a personal PR nightmare.
The following year, I decided to pick something more nuetral to prevent the landslide of complaints. I picked a card with dancing cand canes with the bland message, "Wishing you the best this holiday season." Nobody, I thought, could be offended by this, and I sent out a few dozen of them. I was wrong. A few weeks later, I heard some rumblings from people who knew of my faith. Why, some wondered, couldn't I have picked something more reflective of my beliefs? One person asked me if I was ashamed of being a Christian. Another accused me of caving into the demands of secular society. I tried arguing that it was meant as a gesture of goodwill during the holiday season towards those who don't necessarily share the same beliefs I do. All I got was a lot of disappointed sighs and head-shaking.
Since then, I've sworn off holiday cards because the complaints are tiresome. Political correctness can only go so far, and it almost goes to the extreme today. It's hard to accomodate every single person and their beliefs without offending somebody else. Have you managed to do it? If so, I'd love to hear your tricks, because I'm still trying. And, I wonder what about my right to express something as simple as a Christmas card. When did society become so sensitive that a holiday card became a personal attack? I've always viewed cards as a little hello from me to you and your family during the holiday season. It was never meant to be a political statement or attack on you or asserting my faith over yours--but sadly that's what people have turned it into. Still, every year I went to the stores and stared wistfully at the aisles of brightly colored cardstock and dreamt of what could be.
This year, however, I got a little braver. For the first time in many years, I am considering buying Christmas cards and braving the fallout. Why? I joined the Orthodox Church this year, and I wanted to send a little bit of joy to those I know. So, I'm looking at some beautifully illustrated cards from a local monastery--St. John Chrysostomos Greek Orthodox Monastery in Kenosha--that show what the season means to me.
And the best part? They're blank inside for personal messages. Who can complain about that?
Q4U: How do you purchase cards for the holiday season? Have you had people respond to the ones you buy?