December 16, 2018 4 min read 2 Comments
Ten years ago, my sister-in-law to be invited me to her home for Christmas. “It’s a big deal that you’re invited, and it means they’re accepting you. You have to come,” Nick said. I shopped the clearance racks for each of his six nieces, his two sisters, and his mom, tossed the gifts into cute gift bags, and joined his family for my first ever Christmas celebration.
What I learned that year was just how festive Christmas was. The girls opened presents for a full half hour. It was like a scene from the movies -- bags being opened, paper being tossed about, one gift, next gift, next gift!! By the time they had finished, the floor was littered with gift wrap and boxes. I was amazed, it was even more spectacular than I had ever imagined, and I couldn’t believe I didn’t grow up with this! I learned two really important lessons that day.
First, I now fully understood why my American peers growing up were so enthusiastic about Christmas. If we celebrated Eid with half the zeal as Christmas was celebrated, I’d be tickled pink, too. The gifts given aren’t even that elaborate, but the lights, time with family, opening tons of presents -- it’s all meant to make children more merry. I filed these celebrations away for when we had our own daughter in 2016 so I knew how to make Eid just as festive.
Here’s the thing. Even if your family isn’t multi-faith, we are raising Muslim-American (or wherever you are!) children. These children will be communicating with their friends about Christmas in school and being asked what they want for Christmas. They’ll have gift exchanges at school, holiday parties, write letters to Santa, and decorate cookies. The season is very much around us. Then, they’ll go to work with colleagues who put trees up in their offices and participate in white elephant gift exchanges. We simply cannot ignore the holiday, and nor did my family growing up.
How does your family celebrate, or not celebrate, the holidays? Read on to see how I celebrate, how I grew up celebrating with my very Muslim family and tips on how I answered the question, “YOU DON’T CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS??” growing up.
It's important to balance the Islamic deen with our current environment. I believe fully that Christmas can be used as a dawa opportunity. Show our community how kind we can be, borrow from their generous spirits and use those ideas for our own Muslim holidays.
Here's how I balance Christmas, and have balanced it growing up:
What do you think? I'm fully open to your feedback and thoughts on all of this!
HAPPY HOLIDAYS :)