As Christmas is nearing, I am thinking about the myriad of ways that people celebrate or do not celebrate Christmas.
When I lived in my native country, I loved Christmas. There was no talk of Santa Claus, but traditions that included a deep cleaning of the home, sprucing it up with new curtains, pulling out the good China, and sacrificing livestock that had been fattened all year. It was the ritual that we all learned to appreciate with every passing year.
I know that Christmas means so many things to so many people. I thought, what a great way to show the inclusivity of a holiday that has meaning or no meaning to so many families around the world. I interviewed three of my closest friends about what Christmas means to them. Let’s start with my first interview.
Hello Friend #1
What does Christmas mean to you?
Christmas to me represents tradition….Tradition, not in the sort of stuck up rigid sense of the word where you’re talking about passing down, beliefs or rituals from generation to generation. It’s more like the continual practice of a core group of the same people, coming together year after year to be in each others’ presence in a calm, peaceful and loving environment.
For me those people are my family, like my blood relatives the closest ones to me; my parents, my siblings, significant others of my siblings and my nephew. I think the significance of that core group of people is that …they’re your connection to the past, to your childhood…to all of that nostalgia.
I think I’m a very nostalgic person so…I often feel that kind of sense of longing for the past and for simpler times. Those are the people that connect you best to your past.
You’re also forming new memories and having new experiences with them when you come together that you now take with you into the future. So, I think of the last couple of Christmases that we’ve had. Those are new memories that we’ve created as adults with the little one who has been added to the bunch. That kind of connection keeps growing and being solidified with those people in that core group.
There are other things like the gifts and the food and all of that which in a way you say they are secondary, but I also think they are very important…so maybe they’re not secondary. They’re not as important as the people. They help to solidify this practice of people coming together, because I think food and gifts make things meaningful. They are markers that this is a special occasion. My mom for example cooks really well and she loves to cook. She loves to feed us, and I think that is one of the ways that she expresses her love for her kids and her family.
Other things like dressing nicely and cleaning up the house and using the nice crockery and tableware. All of those things further show that we are celebrating. It shows that we’re happy. It has nothing to do with religion or Christ, but it’s really about family, for me and coming together, and creating the space where we can be our best selves and commune with one another and exchange; just be in each others’ presence. It’s really so good for the soul and the psyche.
How do you reconcile your beliefs with your love of Christmas?
I do make a conscious attempt. In the past I would say Merry Christmas, but now I say happy holidays. It’s moreso that there are other religions that don’t celebrate christmas so for them it’s…just time off.
I’m not in any way willing to give up my celebration at this time, just to be politically correct or sensitive to someone who is vehemently denying the legitimacy of my own celebration. At the end of the day, it is legitimate for anyone once you say that it is. I don’t believe in policing people’s celebrations and the way that they commune with their family regardless of the original reason for that celebration.
I employ my own right to celebrate in the way that I choose and not apologize for it. You do your thing, I’ll do mine.
Mic drop! How about that! Celebrate however you wish.
Thank you Makeddah for participating.