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We Wish You A Merry Saturnalia, Part 2

| Working | December 25, 2014

(I have only recently started working at this store while I am on winter break from college. I am on register. To keep things as secular as possible, I don’t tell anyone ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘happy holidays’ unless they say it first. Additionally, I am pagan and celebrate midwinter, or the winter solstice. As I live in an extremely conservative state, I’ve found that it’s best that I don’t mention that. I am chatting with one of my coworkers during a lull.)

Coworker: “So what are you doing for Christmas? Going to any special services?”

Me: “I actually don’t celebrate Christmas.”

Coworker: “What? You’re an atheist?”

Me: “Actually, I practice Dianic Wicca. I celebrate the winter solstice.”

(Immediately, my coworker seems to get angry, and I feel uncomfortable.)

Coworker: “So what do you do? Cast magic spells and dance around reciting chants?”

Me: “Actually, paganism precedes Christianity by several centuries and a lot of Christmas traditions are derived from Yule celebrations. For example, we often have an evergreen tree, which we decorate—”

Coworker: “So basically, you celebrate Christmas, but you’re just trying to sound edgy.”

Me: “Well, no. There’s a lot of history and symbolism behind—”

(I cut myself off as a customer has approached the cash register. Though I feel shaky, I try to put on a smile and give her the best service I can. At the end, the customer wishes me a Merry Christmas, and I say the same to her.)

Coworker: “Oh, don’t bother. She doesn’t celebrate Christmas. She’s a witch.”

Me: “Well, it’s a bit more complex than that.”

Coworker: *sneering* “You’re probably a lesbian too. Right?”

Me: “My sexuality really isn’t your business.”

Coworker: *under his breath* “D***.”

(At this point, the pleasant customer feels the need to interject.)

Customer: “Now hold on just a minute, young man. This young lady has been nothing but kind and friendly to me. She returned my holiday wishes even though it’s not a holiday she celebrates. All you’ve done is stand to the side and make fun of her religion and sexual orientation. I’d like to speak to your manager, please.”

(My coworker, stunned, goes to get the manager, who apologizes for the coworker’s behavior and gives the customer an extra coupon for her next visit. She dismisses my coworker to the back room. I do my best to thank the customer even though I am close to tears. It’s so wonderful to know that even in a conservative state like mine, there are still kind, accepting people. Happy holidays!)