Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Holiday Spirit

This is a hard one.

I have only been at my current job for almost six months, so I wasn't here last year for the holidays. As a state agency, the holiday parties are low budget (especially since we had our budget cut 5% last week for the current fiscal year) which is fine with me. Good spirits, good food is all I need to make me happy. And supposedly the finance department does their own party with white elephant gifts, team building games, food and decorations.

And now we can't do it. There is a new employee in the department who is a Jehovah's Witness, and their belief is that all celebrations such as birthdays and Christmas have pagan roots, and they don't celebrate them.

So our holiday party is now a meeting where we can't have decorations, can't do any "holiday" related games or have holiday related foods. We can't mention the word Christmas or even call it a celebration.

Yea, this should be a blast. In the past, the team building included building a Christmas house out of marshmallows, or wrapping a fake present with one hand. Who knows what we will do this time.

I am not blasting the Jehovah Witness faith. More power to you for believing strongly in a faith, but COME ON. So the rest of the department, the other 13 of us have to suffer?

And I know this has nothing to do with faith, but at our Halloween party at work (which this employee just did not attend, why can't he do the same with the holiday party I don't know) there were things that offended me, but I kept my mouth shut because they didn't offend everyone. One of the employees dressed up at the president of Iran to make a political statement and another dressed up as Joe the Plumber and made gestures offending my political beliefs. So what, it was funny to others (and sometimes to me as well) and there were yummy empanadas to eat, so I got over it.

I am so going to wear the most obnoxious holiday sweater I can find (Mom, can I borrow one of yours?) for our meeting that isn't a holiday celebration but it is in December and is meant to be a holiday party but can't be and everyone will be thinking it in the back of their minds.


giants fan said...

that is ridiculous!!! you should be allowed to have your party and just make attendence optional!!!

can y'all have a party off-site at a restaurant or something? there can't be a rule against that!!

Lori said...

that is a hard line to follow. what about doing a winter theme? snowmen and snowflakes and such... take the holiday out but not the fun??

Brandi said...

UGH! I agree with Lori. Maybe make it a winter theme. I understand what you mean about everyone having to suffer for one person. If it were a holiday that Christians did not believe in we still have to grin and bear it. So why is that in America, the land of the free, we are no longer allowed to be free with our beliefs but have to bend to what everyone else believes? shouldn't we be celebrating what this country was founded on? A belief in God?

Laura said...

Politically correct taken way too far! Ridiculous!

Though in my old office we had the same issue and we did a winter ball theme - and we did it in the new year - not associated with a holiday persay.

Good luck....

Sabrina said...

I don't like how the many have to suffer the consquences of the few. I organized a teachers appreciation last year and it was an ice cream party. One of the mom's implored me not to serve ice cream because her child was deathly allergic. So we went with pops. We made all of these accommodations for her, exchanged multiple emails and you know what? She didn't even have the courtesy to show up.

Amy, ask your manager if your company can just give that guy the day off and then you guys can at least have a celebration without him and he gets something out of it.

Kellie said...

Ugh. Tough. I respect everyone's belief, but this person clearly isn't respecting your's (and mine). He doesn't have to attend. He can be given the day off. Something. It shouldn't ruin the fun for the rest of you.

Julie said...

I can't believe you all have to cancel your fun for one person. Maybe you should tell them it's against your beliefs to NOT celebrate!

common mom said...

Dude I SOOOOO agree with you!!! It must be nice to be able to make everyone else NOT celebrate or feel good because YOU don't want to. Gee . . . if only we could all get our way.

Get over it! Move along! Basically what he/she is saying is that you can't have any fun EVER . . . cuz if you're having fun, it must be a celebration.

We have a beer cart one Friday afternoon a month in the office . . . I mean, FREE BEER!!! In the office!!! Those that don't believe in drinking don't go running or crying foul. They just say No Thank You.

We had a Christmas Tree Decorating contest last year . . . nobody cried foul - hell, Santa even showed up! And we're doing it again this year.

What-EVER! Believe what you want - I'll believe what I want - and we'll both live and be better for it. But when you start pushing your beliefs on me, that's when the gloves come off. I don't do what I don't want to and you don't do what you don't want to.

Pamela said...

We had a J/W in our office, too.
We went ahead with birthday and holiday celebrations.

She just didn't participate.

Terry said...

One year when I was a supv, I had a fellow supervisor who was J/W would not do a holiday celebration for his clerks so I invited them to the one I had for my employees. The clerks were so thankful because this guy never did anything for them (no secretary's day, no holiday anything, no birthday cards for them). They felt so unappreciated so often I would do things for them because it wasn't right. If this guy doesn't want to come to the celebration then he doesn't come.

ChrisB said...

Sorry but that is so wrong. I am all for respecting the views of others but this should be a two-way process. So the party should continue and the person concerned should have the choice on whether or not they attend.

I wonder if anyone has consulted with the person because (s)he may feel uncomfortable about the new arrangements and prefer that the party went ahead.

Bethany said...

What ever happened to majority rules? It worked when we were kids.

That Chick Over There said...

Ooh. This is a tough one.

Is this person reasonable? I used to work with a JW. She was our secretary and people would wish her a Merry Christmas and she would just look at them and not say a word. People started complaining on her and saying she was rude. She couldn't understand why. I asked her why she didn't respond to people and she said, "I don't celebrate Christmas so I'm not going to respond to that".

I said, "Can't you just say Thank you?" That way she wasn't "celebrating" she was just acknowledging.

Would it be worth talking to your co-worker?

She finally started doing that and things improved. We only had a three person office so we never had parties and we were always respectful of her beliefs, as she was of ours.

"J" said...

That freaking SUCKS A**!!!! He whoever he is just needs to leave the party!!!! That is BS to make all 13 other people NOT be able to celebrate their beliefs so 1 freaking person can deal with his faith!!! Whatever...I'm sorry that is a freaking JOKE!!!!!

Please go buy 25 days worth of Christmas t-shirts, sweaters or whatever it is and WEAR it!!!! I think I need to send you a Christmas tree pin!!! You know the CHEAP ones at Wal-Mart...just so you can wear it at work!!! Oh and I'm thinking a poinsettia...yeah...all of us blog girls need to pitch in and buy you a small Christmas tree DECORATED from FTD Flowers or 1-800 Flowers!!!! HA HA HA!!!! Even if it's their for the day and then you have to take it would soooooooooooooooooooooo BE worth it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That just pisses me off!!!!

You need a jingle bell bracelet too!!!
Or maybe a Christmas tree necklace and matching ear rings!!!!! lol

Can you tell that just pisses me off!!! It's a good thing I don't work!!!! I wouldn't have a job because I would walk around the office and sing jingle bells and Silent Night!!!! lol

Catherine said...

Maybe it wasn't the new co-worker that asked for the special accommodation? Sometimes managers go over the top because they do not know what to do. Rather than risk being sued someone might have decided to protect the organization.

On the other hand - if you all are being asked to leave your religion at the door, then he should too.

Mel @ A Box of Chocolates said...

Every year I pray that I don't have any students who can't participate in Christmas because it is my absolute favorite holiday. I understand that people have differing holiday beliefs, but do I have to contain my beliefs for other people. It seems like we are always looking at the minority rather than the majority. They are the people who end up having their rights infringed upon. If I had beliefs that were different than others I would just not show up. It's not that hard! So sorry your Christmas party is ruined.

CPA Mom said...

I have to agree with Catherine - perhaps it was the management who is doing this and not the J/W at all. In that case, being obnoxious about Christmas like some of the other comments isn't a terribly nice thing to do to your co-worker. Can you find out why this is happening - who instigated it?

Rachel said...

How in the hell does celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ have pagen roots?????

They should not have a "meeting" around what one person believes. They should have taken a vote and then made a decision.

SJ said...

I totally agree, what a tough situation.

How'd the party go anyway? Since I'm reading this and commenting about it way late - I was just curious if you did in fact have fun?