How do we honor other religions? How do we honor holidays we don’t celebrate? And for that matter, how do we treat others when they embarrass us?
I have shared this story recently, yet due to the holiday of Christmas tomorrow, I find it so apropo to share it now, and to share the additional thoughts it brings up for me.
The mother of the future editor of the Detroit Free Press was an immigrant who worked as the housekeeper for a prominent Jewish family whose home was right in the middle of the Jewish community. The family went away during December and was coming back on the 25th, and in her desire to surprise her boss and share her appreciation, she decorated the entire house and the outside of the house with Christmas decorations.
Upon the family’s return, I can only imagine their shock and sense of fear as to what the neighbors would think. The homeowner would have had every right to be upset, yet he took the exact opposite approach– he thanked the housekeeper profusely, gave her a $100 tip, and explained that as Jews, they don’t celebrate Christmas and if it was okay, they would take down the decorations in a respectable and kind manner. This simple gesture is why today, the Editor of the Detroit Free Press is a dear friend of the Jewish people.
The spirit today should be one of empathy and kindness, and not about the ‘me’. Look at the intent– look at what someone else is going through and be kind. I’m not suggesting to let yourself be harmed or run over, yet we should always treat other people as we would want to be treated; we should not let our negative story become theirs.
This leads me back to the first question I posed: there is no need to share that you don’t celebrate a certain holiday unless asked. Rather, we should support others in their holiday cheer just as we would want them to support us. I’m not suggesting to celebrate someone else’s holiday or not– that is irrelevant– what is relevant is how you make someone else feel.
Every action has a reaction, and sometimes simple acts of kindness can have everlasting consequences both positive and negative.
Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love
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