You look at the memo from your boss and feel a knot in your stomach. It's here again.
The office Christmas party.
According a Gallup poll last year, 58 percent of respondents got excited about or at least enjoyed holiday parties, while only seven percent disliked them and four percent dreaded them.
A number of Muslims probably fall into these last two categories, as they debate the pros and cons of this yearly workplace ritual.
One school of thought on the issue of whether or not Muslims should attend the office Christmas party says Muslims must not attend. These Muslim workers argue that this is a Christian event and they are not Christians and the presence of alcohol is one big reasons to avoid the much anticipated event.
For Muslims who choose this option, a leftover vacation day is often used to avoid attending the party. Others try to politely decline in word or writing to their bosses. Others still, boldly assert that the Christmas party is against their beliefs. Period.
The other school of thought on this issue says, yes, go ahead, join your coworkers at the annual celebration - with a couple of caveats.
First, this group suggests, if there is any aspect of the party that involves you worshiping in something which you do not believe in, you should avoid this part of the event.
Second advice by party goers is to be careful what you eat and drink. If alcohol is being served, you know to pass and head to the juice counter. Similarly, if ham's the main course, skip it for a vegetarian side dish.
Finally, steer clear of the mistletoe. The tradition of kissing under this winter sprig isn’t necessary and obviously contrary to Islamic beliefs. Ditto the mixed dancing after dinner.
Regardless of the option you choose, don't forget to be firm about your beliefs, but always be polite. Christmas may not be for you, but it is for most of your coworkers, whether it's on a social or religious level.