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Tracy Sharpner, the owner of a hardware store in Bedford, Arkansas, has declared that her workplace will forego the tradition of celebrating Christmas and commemorate Festivus during the holidays of 2010. Festivus is a secular holiday created by writer Dan O'Keefe and popularized by his son, Daniel O'Keefe, a screenwriter for the hit TV show, Seinfeld.
Sharpner, who grew up in a Christian household in Darwin, California, moved to Arkansas nearly nine years ago to set up a store that featured products from local suppliers in Arkansas and neighboring states of Mississippi and Tennessee. "It's entirely a coincidence," said Sharpner,"but I happen to have a diverse demographic of religious denominations who are either my employees, my vendors, or my customers. I also have Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, and a few atheists who work here in permanent- or temporary-capacity. We have several global religions under one roof, right here."
As she looked around at other stores in Bedford, Sharpner admits that she was "shocked" to find that most stores observed only Christmas as part of the holiday festivities. "I thought it was very parochial and un-Christian to appropriate the holidays for one faith only,"said Sharpner. "Since I strongly felt that a change was in the air, I started with my workplace and talked to my employees." Sharpner says that she was "simply amazed" to find out that a majority of her staff felt especially alienated during the holidays.
"The holidays are supposed to bring everyone together, not just Christians." said Sharpner, adding that she put up the holiday celebrations at her store up for a vote."The majority of employees voted for Festivus because it was the most secular festival of all." Sharpner admits that she was "especially gratified" that her employees voted for a secular celebration.
"The United States is a secular nation,"noted Sharpner,"and it warms my heart that my employees are aware of our nation's founding principles and believe in sharing the holidays with people of all creeds. And an aluminum pole is the only accoutrement needed for the festivities. Now that's recyclable, green, and earth-friendly."