I hurt a friend today.
Well, yesterday really, but I didn't read my email and find out until today.
She had innocently sent out a mass email about a local school's project selling wreaths and evergreen swags, telling people that if they wanted to place an order but didn't have a child in the school system, that they could put her son down on the form and then pick up their order at her home.
I don't know what it is about Christmas that makes me cranky. I'm Jewish, and it's not that I resent Christians their holiday. It's just the way Christmas is so pervasive anywhere I go in public (other than synagogue), and it starts earlier every year.
So, without thinking, I emailed back to my friend a little rant about how I felt that public schools should not be promoting Christmas items as a fundraiser, and that if I had a child in the school system, I would seriously be considering sending a letter to the school board in protest.
I guess I didn't really read her email very closely because I didn't notice that the program doing the sale was the community transition program in the school district. The program is for kids with disabilities who are 18-21, and it tries to simulate and create work opportunities through the greenhouse. And it's certainly true that greenhouses trying to succeed as a business are going to sell things like wreaths and evergreen swags at Christmas time.
I just thought it was a fundraiser for the school district. And I feel strongly that even though there are many people who claim Christmas is a secular holiday in this country, it really isn't, and part of the separation of church and state in the Constitution means the celebration of Christmas doesn't belong in public schools.
Yes, the pagans had winter solstice festivals during what's now the Christmas season long before Jesus was born, but the widespread celebration of the holiday is based in the Christian religion.
Anyway, I thought my friend would understand that it was just my usual anti-Christmas rant, and I made a little joke about just calling me the Grinch, and thought that was that.
But this is a program that her son and his peers participate in, something I would have realized if I'd read her email closer instead of just wondering what the CTC on the flyer referred to. And those kids deserve any support they can get.
I wasn't serious about my threat to write a letter to the school board. I didn't even realize it was a threat. But my friend knows how little support her son and his peers get from the school system, and she saw it as a threat that would cut funding from one of the few programs that her son and his peers really benefit from.
I've already told her, in email and in voicemail, how sorry I am. She has already apologized for the angry email she sent yesterday immediately after reading my response to the wreath order form.
But as a wise man I saw on Oprah said that it wasn't enough to admit a mistake and apologize for it. To really show you want to overcome the hurt you inflicted on a person, you need to ask how you can make it right, and do what the hurt person requests. I hope my friend will give me the opportunity to make things right.
And it's a good lesson for me about learning tolerance and not being so quick to condemn programs like this one when I don't know the details.
Although I grew up in a very Jewish area where our public schools closed for Jewish holidays like Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, I now live in a city with far fewer Jews. And I'm in an interfaith marriage, trying to raise our little girl with Jewish traditions. I've got a lot to learn.
I'm not sure how I'm going to make things right to my friend, but I hope she is willing to help me find a way.
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