What about solstice stamps?

I started this post basically as a shout-out to the post office for doing a pretty good job of covering the range of holiday stamp needs. If you want to honor a major religious or ethnic northern-hemisphere-winter celebration with your stamp choice, the U.S. post office has you pretty well covered.

Jews and African-Americans will find Hanukkah and Kwanzaa stamps.

Christians who want to focus on the religious aspects of the holiday have two choices—manger scene with star, or the slightly more subtle lamb. (Is it the Lamb of God? Is it a reference to flocks watched over by shepherds at night? It’s a stretch, but you could even choose to pretend it’s a secular reference to wool production and the making of cozy sweaters—an option I mention because it’s a real possibility in this household.)

If your winter-holiday celebration has its roots in the Christian tradition, but is a bit less religious-focused, you have several choices. There’s a kid in a snow-suit making a snow-angel, a one-horse-open-sleigh reference, a Santa Claus, and some holiday decorations with Christmas cookies.

There’s even a stamp for Diwali (and the post office always has a stamp for Eid, although I guess this year, since Ramadan was back in the summer, they didn’t see fit to include it with the winter holiday stamps).

But just as I was getting ready to sing the praises of the U.S. Post Office for hitting just about every note, I realized that they’d left me out. There’s no stamp for me to put on my solstice cards. Those bastards!

I shall have to write a strong letter of protest.

You wouldn’t want those

US Postal Service Eid stamp

We stopped at the post office on the way home from taiji to mail off our Christmas gifts, and Jackie wanted to buy some stamps as well. The clerk pointed us toward the display of the currently available stamps, pointing out that the Christmas-themed stamps were in the lower left.

Jackie peered at the stamps, her hand hovering over the ones she was looking at, and when her hand strayed away from the Christmas stamps to a spot over the Eid stamps just to the right, the postal clerk said, “You wouldn’t want those.”

My first impulse was to laugh out loud. Jackie said, “I don’t know. I think they’re kind of pretty.”

I’m sure the clerk was just trying to be helpful. She was no doubt thinking back to a day, perhaps not so long ago, when she would have had no idea what Eid was. She was imagining just how embarrassed she’d have been if she’d thought, “I don’t know, I think they’re kind of pretty,” and had sent off her Christmas cards with Eid stamps.

Jackie, of course, knows perfectly well what she’d be doing. She’s lived places where Eid is as big a holiday as Christmas is here. And nobody that we’d be likely to send a card to would be offended by receiving one with an Eid stamp.

I momentarily considered whether I should be offended at the idea of a US government employee steering people away from stamps on the grounds of religious belief, but it was so funny I couldn’t work up any indignation. It’s not like the clerk was trying to keep us from celebrating Eid. She was trying to help a couple of small-town folks avoid committing the terrible faux pas of unknowingly sending Christmas cards with an Eid stamp. I’m sure if couples wearing headscarves and turbans come in, she sells them Eid stamps without comment. (That mental picture has me laughing again.)

After pointing out that the post office really ought to have solstice stamps, Jackie ended up getting a page of Earthscape stamps.

Bonus extremely lame pun: A while back someone posted a bunch of lame puns in the men’s locker room at the Fitness Center. One was “What’s it called when everybody tries to go into the post office at the same time? A stamp-ede!” Knowing that Jackie would have seen the same puns posted in the women’s locker room, when I met her in the lobby I asked, “What’s it called when everybody tries to go into the post office at the same time on the last day of Ramadan? A stamp-Eid Mubarak!”