A resident in a Utica apartment building was shocked to find a memo warning residents against putting up certain holiday decorations. Specifically, any decor based on religious beliefs is being discouraged.

The letter from property management went out to all residents and read,

Dear Residents,

As the holiday season approaches, so do the decorations and festivities. While it is a time of celebration, it is also a time to be mindful and respectful of the rich and diverse cultures and religions of our neighbors. Common area holiday decorations and community celebrations should be respectful and inclusive. It is advised to avoid and postings or decor in common areas which could be construed as religious in nature, national origin, or which could be perceived as concerning to other residents.

The letter then goes on to direct residents to two lists. The lists are labeled "Acceptable" and "Avoid." Under the "Acceptable" category are the following decorations:

  • Snowmen
  • Fake Snow
  • Snowflakes
  • Evergreen & Evergreen Garland
  • Pinecones
  • Mittens
  • Tinsel
  • String Lights
  • "Happy Holidays" signage
  • Wreaths (secular)
  • Pointsettias
  • Reindeer
  • Acorns
  • Leaves
  • Turkeys

Now, if you live in this particular housing complex you are being asked to avoid putting up the following decorations:

  • Christmas Trees
  • Angels
  • Santa Claus
  • Elves
  • Stockings
  • Menorahs
  • Nativity Scenes
  • Advent Candles
  • Native Americans & Pilgrims (Thanksgiving)
  • "Merry Christmas" signage

While I understand the desire to avoid offending someone or being exclusive when it comes to holiday decorations, the recommendations seem a little contradictory. The letter sent to residents claims they want to celebrate the "rich and diverse cultures and religions" of their neighbors, but they're preventing those people from celebrating those cultures or religions. Also, how is it that reindeer are allowed, but not Santa? Why are lights okay, but not stockings? What's so offensive about stockings?

The recipient of this letter was annoyed by the letter and I am sure he's not the only one. There are several ways people celebrate during this time of year and by allowing people to put up the decorations that reflect their beliefs and identities, I believe, would be the best way to celebrate diversity.

[Editorial Note: WIBX spoke with several people close to the issue who did not want to be identified publicly.  The letter was sent from corporate ownership, not the property management.  This post has been corrected to reflect that.  It is no reflection on the quality of the building and life there, as many residents have told WIBX that they are appreciative of the property manager.  They say that the living conditions there  continually improve.]

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