I know it’s several days too late for a Christmas post, but this delves into deeper waters so I’m going through with it anyway.
Before I recount a moment in which I proudly kept my mouth shut in order to maintain a pair of professional working relationships, I have to lay out some backstory on where I work.
I deliver pizzas for a major, international franchise. My co-workers are a melting pot of college grads, teenagers, people having trouble living up to their potential, and of course some people who are a few nuggets short of a Happy Meal. Needless to say, such diversity lends itself to some grade-A minimum wage banter.
The purpose of this story is not to mock any of my co-workers. On a good day, they’re really fine folks. Even on a bad day, they’re no more screwed up than the rest of the population. I’m just venting some things that would have been impolite to say aloud at work.
On a hectic night, I returned to the store after a delivery. I followed the same routine as always: check back in at the computer, drop cash in the box, check back out at the computer, bag up deliveries and go.
Throughout the process, however, I couldn’t help but overhear a profound debate happening between two of my co-workers as they tidied up the store between in-store duties.
I will paraphrase.
Co-Worker A: It’s a Christian holiday!
Co-Worker B: No, Christmas is based on a pagan seasonal holiday!
Co-Worker A: Pagan?! I don’t even know what that means, but there’s no way that it existed before Christianity!
Co-Worker B: You need to just stop talking right now. You’re embarrassing yourself.
If you are shocked that Co-Worker A was offended by that last part, you probably don’t have very good people skills.
I wanted to lunge into the conversation because I think stuff like this is super awesome, but I already had one foot out the door so I didn’t have enough time to say something that I probably would have regretted.
After work that night, I told my beautiful girlfriend about the exchange and she asked if I knew the right answer on the debate. I think I used to, but it’s long forgotten now. She explained to me that the church shifted Jesus’s Birthday to closely align with pagan holidays celebrating the Winter Solstice so as to “Christianize” something that other religions were already doing. Their thought process: “BOOM! We just tricked you into celebrating the birth of our Messiah!” (My girlfriend didn’t say that part. I just made it up.)
The specifics interested me far less than the general idea of people finding themselves unexpectedly embroiled in a religious debate. Being from a family with more intense religious views than my own, I’ve decided that there are only three times when people change/abandon their faith:
- Over a very long, tumultuous inner-battle of debating the logic and benefit of what they believe.
- When they want to.
Seeing as how there are a lot of people plugged into this internet thing, I’m sure someone out there can cite an example of one pizza store employee changing another’s mind about their religion. That being said, I’m sure that specific incident would still fall under one of the broader categories above. Needless to say, my co-workers didn’t change any hearts or minds that evening.
This brings me to a bigger point: Who cares? We all seem to agree that Christmas is about giving gifts to each other. If someone gives you a present because Baby Jesus, will you throw that present on the ground and spit on it because you are an atheist? If you buy gifts because you support consumerism, will you not bother with the Christians on your shopping list? If you’re celebrating the days getting longer and the nights getting shorter, do you really care what a person handing you a present believes?
It’s a season of giving and tolerance. If you disagree with that, then just celebrate it as a season of being nice to people you don’t like.