Saturday, December 11, 2004

Religious holiday cards

I have never been a very religious person. For most of my adult life, I have been an unchurched-Agnostic. That being said, I have never skipped celebrating "Christmas". But, for me, the holiday has never been about celebrating the birth of anyone. I won't lie about it. Until very recently, the holiday has been, mostly, a celebration of capitalistic materialism. In recent years, however, it has become more about celebrating the year that has gone before, and showing those I care about that they are ever in my heart and mind.

I do not begrudge anyone the way they celebrate the end of year holidays, whatever version of them is part of their own personal traditions. When sending out holiday cards, I look for as generic a card as possible usually along the lines of "Seasons Greetings", "Happy Holidays", or my favorite, but hard find, "Happy New Year". I like cards that represent my own areligious feelings about the holiday season, but will also not directly offend the recipient(s) of the card.

I wish that everyone behaved with this in mind. If you are a religious person, and you have friends who are not religious, you probably wouldn't send them a religious holiday card. If you did send your non-religious friends cards that made them uncomfortable, over time, the friendship would suffer from such acts.

The most awkward situation arises in business-to-business card giving. Most businesses send the generic holiday cards that I've always leaned towards. Good businessmen (and women), do not want to alienate clients, partners, or vendors. However, if your business is closely aligned with religion, you may be inclined to send a religious holiday card. To send a generic card may seem an affront to the very ideals your mission statement represents.

My company does business with a Christian organization. That organization values my contribution to their business. So, each year they send me a VERY religious holiday card. I shouldn't let it get to me. But, it does. I feel like either they are assuming that the world is Christian, or it should be. Both ideas inspire some very un-Christian emotional responses from me. I eventually calm down and remind myself to "forgive them, for they know not what they do".

How do others feel about this topic?


briwei said...

Gee. I wonder who the customer could be. You already know my feelings on the topic. It's arrogant to force your world view on others. They must not be compassionate conservatives. :)

Anonymous said...

Although I'm very definitely agnostic and tend to view the extremely religious with (depending on their attitude) either pity or scorn, I'm certainly not offended by positive religious sentiments...of any religion. Their faith is important to them, and I take their sentiments in the spirit in which they're intended...with the caveat that they don't expect me to believe the same things.

I was having trouble with a particular issue last year, and a Christian acquaintance told me that she'd pray for my success. I thought that was sweet. I in no way believe that the eventual positive outcome had anything to do with her prayers, but it was nice that she did what *she* thought would help influence the result. Similarly, my sister is a Wiccan, and she occasionally puts in a good word for me with her deities of choice. I don't believe in her religion, but I'll never begrudge a blessing.

As long as the religious holiday card doesn't say, "Bless you, unless you don't believe the same way we do, you heathen," what's to be offended about?


Kitten Herder said...

I try to appreciate the sentiment, but this year's card is not just troublesome to my beliefs, but it is encouraging me to be a missionary for theirs. The card contained several very Christian Bible quotations, and said:

"The cards below may be used to plant seeds in the lives around you. Use them as a gift tag, an ornament, a bookmark, or however you'd loke to share The Good News"

Anonymous said...

I recommend taking the Xmas card for what it is - a happy greeting, and, says the libertarian in me, free speech. We all express gratitude and kindness differently. And it sure beats having sappy, preppily-dressed people with pamphlets and vapid smiles knocking at your door. Too many more pressing things in this world to be offended about other than illustrated pieces of stock paper that demand nothing from you (except, some say, retaliation in kind). If you really don't want to get those cards anymore, perhaps you could send your clients a Hannukah card in return next year. Would they get the hint? Or would that just inspire greater missionary zeal :)?


briwei said...

True. It IS free speech, but it is inconsiderate and unprofessional to use a business relationship as an opportunity to proselytize. Especially when the recipient is not in a role in the relationship where they can say something.