Last year, friends and family of Whitney Roberts Logan received a Christmas card that said “Merry.”
This year, though, she’s not feeling so merry. Sending out a greeting of good cheer felt insincere.
Not after a political season that left the country split from stem to stern. Not after seeing stories of hate crimes escalating after the election.
Not as she watches the citizens of Aleppo, Syria, flee to safer corners of the world, creating a refugee crisis of dire proportions that has yet to be solved.
So Logan created something a little different this year. She sent out a photo of her family with a greeting that tweaks the anti-refugee rhetoric that’s been swirling for months.
“This Christmas season we would like to remind everyone that Jesus was a Middle Eastern refugee.”
She showed it first to family and friends, all whom liked the message.
Then she shared it with Pantsuit Nation — the “secret” Facebook page for Hillary Clinton supporters — and the card instantly went viral, blowing up with nearly 180,000 responses.
It’s also whipped up more than 4,000 comments on Logan’s message, including this addendum from one commenter: “And (Jesus) was Jewish.”
She posted it to her public Facebook page, too, where one woman left this message: “I hope you don’t mind me (a stranger) sharing a picture with your children on it. With everything going on in Aleppo right now and Syria for the past few years I really wanted to show how your family chose to say ‘Merry Christmas!’ ”
She’s fielding nonstop requests from lots of people who want to use the card as their own. An old friend from high school, now working in Dubai, told her it’s being shared around there, too.
Logan is stumped about why the card has gone viral. “I don’t know, but I hope it’s gone viral because people care about people,” she said.
She meant for it to be more than just a meme and it’s become much more than that. It also reflects what Logan, a psychotherapist, has been hearing and seeing after the election: unsettling stories of shaken faith and fear about what comes next after such a divisive presidential election.
“In my professional life and in my personal life I’m exposed to a lot of stories of fear and anxiety and suffering in light of the current political climate,” said Logan, 33.
She’s also been “very wrapped up reading the news about what’s happening in Aleppo, and I’ve just felt sort of helpless, like there’s a little bit you can do, you can donate to relief organizations on the ground there, and we’ve done that.”
Logan, who grew up Presbyterian, majored in religion at Baylor University. She writes a blog called “Healing My Religion” where she went silent for months as she became “completely swallowed up” by the election.
Now, with Christmas around the corner, wouldn’t it be nice, she thought, “for Christians especially” to remember Jesus Christ’s refugee experience.
“And wouldn’t it be great to start a conversation about tolerance and soften those harsh ideas of fear and remember that the main message in the Gospels is that of standing with and taking care of the marginalized and oppressed.”
For the most part, response to the card has been positive, with one exception.
She sent the cards electronically to family and friends “to be environmentally thoughtful,” but now so many people have requested one she might have to put together a mailing list.