So I was in the Disneyland LEGO store last week purchasing a much-coveted LEGO train set that we promised our son for Diwali (under condition that he build it entirely by himself – though to date he’s only put together 1 car – but that’s another story).  At checkout, this store lady says to me, “For spending so much today, you get a free gift.”

It was a little LEGO Christmas Tree Set.  At first I thought it was cute – the kids could at least use the parts or we could give it to one of their friends.  But then I got annoyed with LEGO – do they just assume that everyone in the world (country) celebrates Christmas?  Were they trying to push Christmas on everyone?

Granted, many regard Christmas trees as secular.  But we don’t put one up in our house.  And if they offered the Christmas tree set to a Jewish or a Muslim person – would they be offended?

Maybe I’m making too big of a deal about this – but it’s the principle/mentality/assumption that everyone assimilates and celebrates Christmas that irks me.

I politely refused.  What would you have done?


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14 Responses to “Would You Refuse This Gift From LEGO?”

  1. J. Iyer Says:

    I think at that point you take the gift and drop it in the Toys for Tots box. Even if you don’t celebrate the holiday may as well help and underprivileged child who does.

    I live in a neighborhood with a strong Jewish population and I don’t think I would be offended at all if we were offered a dradle or something like that at a store. I would simply find a place to donate it to someone who would appreciate it.

  2. deepal Says:

    I completely agree with you, and you’re not making a big deal out of it. It’s not a matter of offense for me as it is the principal of making others aware that pushing Christmas, Easter, and other religious holidays on the whole population marginalizes the millions of people who have other religious/spiritual beliefs. I do not want my daughter growing up thinking that Janmashtami, for example, is not as important as Christmas. I would definitely decline the free offer!

  3. deepal Says:

    Oops…principle :)

  4. deepal Says:

    @J. Iyer
    It is a thoughtful idea to donate the free gift to someone who would appreciate it, and yes, I would hate to decline something that could make a deserving child very happy. However, I would also feel conflicted because taking the Lego set sends the message that a free Christmas gift is perfectly acceptable to give to the whole population (even though there are millions who do not celebrate the holiday). So even though it would be a shame to waste the free toy, for me, the principle is more important. I want to teach my daughter by example that when something is not fair, she has a voice and should use it responsibly. I am curious to read how others feel about this!

  5. Aruna Says:

    I did that too (principle) – thanks for catching that :)
    Interesting point about the donation – but in that moment, I just couldn’t take that toy – I suppose I could have asked the salesperson to donate it for me.

  6. J. Iyer Says:

    Lots of interesting points. I think people presume it is an acceptable gift because Christmas is a national holiday. If Diwali or religious holidays from other cultures became national holidays you would see give-a-ways themed in this manner too.

    I actually think it is good that she offered it to you. It would be a lot worse if the cashier presumed that you did not celebrate and didn’t offer it to you in the first place. Imagine if you say a sign upon exiting that read “Free Lego set with $xxx purchase” and she hadn’t offered it to you.

  7. madhavi Says:

    I’d be offended and might have been tempted to return the gift saying something like, “You know what? we don’t celebrate christmas’ or something abrupt like that. But thanks to this discussion, I’m more likely to ask the sales person to donate it instead. And I’ll remember to be polite about it because she is only the ‘face’ of the larger corporate tactic involved here (as in most other things American !!)

  8. deepal Says:

    I sent a quick email to Lego about this, and below is their response. I replied once more stating that perhaps a winter-themed promotion (like a snowman) would be more appreciated by customers than a Christmas-themed one:

    “Dear LEGO Customer,

    Thanks for getting in touch with us. Firstly I’d like to apologise on behalf of the LEGO company if you felt at all offended by our recent promotion within our LEGO store. It is never our intention to make our customers feel left out, segregated or offended by anything we do.

    The promotion that you saw mentioned on the blog was not one specific to the United States. It was available in our LEGO Stores and on our LEGO Shop at Home website for all purchases made over a certain amount of money, to all the countries that we ship to. All over the world, Christmas is a huge holiday with many companies and stores bringing out specialist products and promotions for this period. These days, most of these images are about snow, reindeer, presents, and Santa Claus and many people do not really relate this to Christianity or the real reason that Christmas was originally celebrated, however I do understand that Christmas is supposed to be a religious holiday.

    When faced with the decision between not creating a promotion at all, or having a promotion, with Christmas widely celebrated throughout the world we felt that although not everyone would agree with the type of free gift, a large amount of our customers would appreciate this. Sadly it would not be a possibility for us to create a free promotion for every religious holiday celebrated each year.

    LEGO Systems, Inc. places a high value on consumer opinion, thus, your remarks are appreciated. In our ongoing efforts to produce and market products that are valued by children and adults alike, consumer comments, such as yours, are a resource that we welcome and value.

    Thank you again for contacting us. If you have any further questions, please feel free to reply to this email or call one of our friendly Customer Care Advisors at 1-800-835-4386 (from within the US or Canada) or 1-860-749-0706 (from outside the US or Canada). We are available Monday through Friday from 8AM – 10PM EST and Saturday through Sunday from 10AM to 6PM EST.

    LEGO Direct”

  9. Aruna Says:

    Wow – Seriously, this was the response? The way I read it is – ya, we care about our large customer base that celebrates Christmas – but not about anybody else. So too bad for you. This may have flown in the 70’s but this is 2011.

  10. Rina Says:

    Sorry but I don’t see what the problem is. Its a Christmas specified promotion – so the product would be Christmas related. If it was a Halloween promotion and you got a free jack-o-lantern, would you be offended? If it was a Hannakuh promotion and you got a free dredal, would you be offended?

    When Holi is played on the streets of India, do the Muslim and Christian kids sit on the sidelines, because they take offense? No.

    If you don’t want it, great. Return it. But there shouldn’t be any offense.

  11. Meera Says:

    I will accept the gift. I think accepting it goes to demonstrate (and more so to our children) that we are embracing and tolerant of other cultures and religions besides our own. I might not come home and put it up on my altar but I will have it around – if not for anything, for the sake of exposure and awareness of other religions and cultures that coexist. In fact, going a bit further, mentioning the fact that I do not celebrate Christmas but will still accept it, might send out a message to the check out person / child / other shoppers around – and I believe that is the first step towards spreading the spirit of any religion or culture around the world – human to human. Besides, its simply not practical to be picky – will we go into a random store in India that gives away a Ganesha as a free gift and tell the storekeeper to check if the receiver is a Hindu or Muslim or Christian or Sikh? My choice would be to let go and let things flow and exchange in a way secularism and tolerance are nurtured rather than look at it as being offensive or segregating.

    Let me add here- however, I do not like corporate mentality and do not endorse Lego’s reply.

    And all of this is just my personal view. Thanks.

  12. Pooja Says:

    You should have taken it and donated to a holiday toy drive!

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