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By Stephen Noll
Special to Virtueonline
December 8, 2021

I generally do not like mixing religion and politics at Christmas, but this year I have no choice but to fly the flag!

You see, each year my wife and I enjoy getting together after Thanksgiving and writing up a "News from the Nolls" Christmas letter. We each look back at the milestones of the past year and add a couple book and video recommendations, along with some family photos. Then we mail them out to friends here in the USA and email them to friends overseas.

We have tried to make even the "wrapping" of the newsletters festive, with red or green envelopes, gold address labels and stamps featuring the Old Masters' renditions of the Nativity.

Until this year. No such stamps. At first, we thought the postal service was just, as usual, behind time (perhaps some Old Masters were trapped off the coast of California), but eventually I decided to check out the USPS website. And what to my wondering eyes did appear but the following choices:

• A Visit from St. Nick -- for traditionalists under age 5
• Otters in Snow -- for the Save the Otter constituency, no doubt
• Kwanzaa (2 choices)
• Hanukkah
• Our Lady of Guápulo
• Diwali -- Hindu festival of lights in November
• Eid -- there are two Islamic Eids, in May and July 2022

Of all these stamps, Our Lady of Guápulo is, to be sure, Christian and an Old Master. As explained by USPS,

the stamp features a detail of "Our Lady of Guápulo," an 18th-century oil painting by an unknown artist in Cuzco, Peru, from the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Enrobed in a pyramidal gown speckled with jewels and holding a scepter woven with roses and leaves, a crowned Virgin Mary looks down at a similarly adorned Christ child in her left arm. A red rosary ropes across the center of her dress and down to her right.

I am assuming this stamp was intended to meet the Hispanic and traditionalist Roman Catholic market, but it does not, frankly, represent my vision of the Virgin Mother and the Babe in swaddling clothes lying in a manger, and I suspect the same can be said of the 143 million Protestants in the USA, including at least 20% of the Hispanic population.

So, having surveyed the diversity, equity and inclusion on offer, I stopped by the Post Office and got another roll of U.S. Flag stamps. Thankfully, the flag is still red, white, and blue and not green- or rainbow-striped or upside down.

Come to think of it, maybe I should store up a few more rolls for coming Christmastides.


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