In the wake of the ongoing social justice crisis in the United States, Hanzo—like many companies—has been reevaluating its policies and practices around diversity, equity, and inclusion. With the end-of-year holiday season upon us, we’ve been wondering: how can we create a culture that’s inclusive and welcoming to all? How can those of us who celebrate Christmas keep our hearts and minds open to those of us who don’t—or to those for whom the season just isn’t worth celebrating?
This isn’t a debate about whether anyone “can” say “Merry Christmas,” but rather an open discussion about how to make space for different holidays and different traditions. To that end, we asked our employees what the end-of-year holidays mean to them. We were heartened to receive a wide variety of thoughtful responses.
Here’s a sampling of what we learned.
What Our Employees Love About the December Holidays
Nearly every response we received mentioned some form of tradition, whether it was religious, national, or personal. These encompassed both old traditions that have been passed down among families and communities—such as the Mexican tradition of Las Posadas—as well as new traditions that people have consciously built. Many, many of those traditions involve special meals or foods! Other responses mentioned skiing, taking a chinchorreo road trip, going to the movies, reflecting on the past year, and honoring loved ones who’ve been lost.
Some employees noted that they celebrate other holidays, such as the Eids of the Islamic faith, or simply don’t celebrate Christmas. For those, the extra time off is a welcome break and an opportunity to gather with family and take on—or finish—a few projects before the year’s end. Several employees also pointed out that December is, whether for religious or personal reasons, an important time to practice generosity, giving back to those in need.
What’s Not So Great About the “Holiday Season”
A few employees mentioned feeling left out or lonely when they’ve been unable to travel to see family and friends during their time off. They’re not alone; there’s generally an uptick in mental health issues in December. Many people find that they miss their lost loved ones more acutely over the holidays. Others may feel lonely or isolated, especially as the pandemic continues. Some may have been alienated from their families of origin, an unfortunately common outcome among LGBTQ+ individuals who grew up with strong Christmas traditions before being rejected for who they are and whom they love.
Even those who might otherwise enjoy the season can find themselves burned out and exhausted by the demands associated with the expectations of traditional gatherings and celebrations. One employee noted that Christmas feels like a “juggling act” and that it’s a relief simply to get through the day without any drama or catastrophe.
Why We Care About How Our Employees Celebrate the Season
It’s easy, living in a Christian-centric society like the US—not to mention a society where Christmas has become intensely commercialized—to forget that December isn’t a special month or a happy occasion for everyone. We wanted to recognize the many diverse perspectives within our company and hold space for our employees to celebrate, or not celebrate, the season as they see fit.
The bottom line for us is that whatever your traditions, beliefs, and holidays, you’re accepted at Hanzo. We are delighted by the diversity within our (virtual) walls, and we look forward to another year of continuing to learn and grow in our DEI efforts.
We wish all of our employees, customers, and readers peace, traditions that bring you joy, and all the delicious food you can eat. If you’re feeling alone, know that you’re not the only one—and if you’re feeling blessed, share those blessings.
We certainly will.