What does one do, when they don’t celebrate Christmas? As a first-generation Canadian, my answer is: you somewhat celebrate Christmas! Growing up, my parents raised us under the expectation that Christmas is not our holiday. They reminded us that we celebrate Eid twice a year (the Christian equivalent to Christmas and Easter). Yet, my parents always made it a point to take part in the holiday spirit. This can be such a sticky subject amongst others from my community – and I can understand why.
Every year, my mother sent “holiday” gifts to the teachers at school, and my father distributed log cakes to our neighbours. We did not decorate our house, or put up a tree, but we still recognized that it was the holiday season. We never hesitated to wish those around us a Merry Christmas, or a Happy Holiday. After all, in the gloominess of winter, the holiday season is a great way to keep cheerful. In fact, one of the highlights of my childhood was when my father would gather the family and drive around Ottawa, just so we could admire all the decorated houses.
As for myself, I was always the first to suggest we do “Secret Santa” at school or work, and I have all the Christmas songs memorized. Every year, I buy gifts for my neighbours and watch re-runs of all the Christmas movies with my family. Still, now that I am a mother of young children, I find myself in a slight dilemma. My daughters get excited when they see lights on the houses, Christmas trees across the city or Santa at the mall. I never know how stringently I should be reminding them that we celebrate Eid. There is always that fear that they will be so immersed in the hype of Christmas that they will lose interest in their own faith.
If you were in my shoes, what would you do? Would you approach celebrating the holidays differently, if your faith did not partake in Christmas?