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“I don’t celebrate Christmas, Jackass”

No_XMAS!During this joyous holiday season, let’s all try to give each other the benefit of the doubt. Sometimes, we’re not trying to be a jackass, it just happens. Like last week at the office. It started off innocent, got ugly, then turned into the greatest holiday lesson we could hope for.

I spend 11 months out of the year doing my best to be a jerk. But during the weeks leading up to Christmas, I do my best to say ‘happy holidays,’ or nothing at all. When I’ve slipped up and said, “Merry Christmas,” and received the dreaded, “I don’t celebrate Christmas,” I’ve always, always felt like a jerk. They don’t always include the “Jackass” on the end of, “I don’t celebrate Christmas,” but they don’t need to.

We all slip up. This time, it was worth it because I learned so much. It’s my duty to pass along that knowledge. Here’s what happened: word for word.

I was walking through the cube farm when a coworker, with whom I enjoy a friendly, if superficial, relationship, called out to say hello, so I stopped. I’ve never had an unpleasant conversation with this person before. She’s always very upbeat. I’ve never seen her even the least bit annoyed about work, and there’s plenty there about which one may be annoyed. Because of this, she’s one of the few people with whom I enjoy the occasional chat.

I noticed a Christmas tree on her desk and that she was wrapping a present. It went downhill from there.

Worker Drone 1 (Me): Hi. Merry Christmas.

Worker Drone 2 Two (Her): (Smile vanishes and turns to hardcore frown.) I don’t celebrate Christmas.

WD1: But, but, but… you have a Christmas tree on your desk. See, it’s got, y’know, ornaments on it. And it’s a pine tree.

WD2: It’s a “Holiday” tree. (The frown deepens.)

WD1: Oh, Ok.

Looks at tree, then at her, then back at the tree. No clarity is found. THAT IS A CHRISTMAS TREE. Do I ask, “which holiday? No, then I sound even more ignorant than I already am. Ah-ha!

So, when is the holiday?

WD2: December 25th. Duh.

SHE’S giving ME the “Duh?” Really?

WD1: Well, I didn’t mean any offense. I saw the tree and made the wrong assumption, I guess. What’s with the present?

WD2: Oh, it’s for my mom.

WD1: Nice wrapping paper. Uh, I don’t suppose you’re planning on giving that to her on the morning of the 25th?

WD2: Of course.

WD1: So you exchange presents with family and loved ones on the morning of the 25th?

WD2: Well, yeah.

WD1: Under the shadow of a tree that looks kinda like that one? I don’t suppose there’s any singing involved? Reindeer?

WD2: Ha, whatever. I don’t celebrate Christmas. I’m not Christian.

She’s smiling again, but doesn’t mean it. I’m pushing my luck. Get out now! Pretend your phone is ringing and run! But this time, I ignore the voices in my head.

WD1: Ok, but non-Christians celebrate Christmas, too. Christmas is more secular every year.

WD2: Yeah, but for all the wrong reasons.

WD1: Such as…

WD2: (Looking at me like I’m the dumbest dog in the pound.) Commercialism.

WD1: So you fixed that by only celebrating with decorations and presents.

WD2: Well, what do you suggest, throw a birthday party for Jesus?

WD1: Fair enough.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYBODY!

pNoXmasP1

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