Growing Up Muslim During Christmas

365 days - 12 months - 1 year ago

 I hosted my family's annual Holiday Party.

It's hard to believe it was just a year ago my family was whole. I thought about writing a post on Christmas decor: where I got the centerpiece, cups, and plates from, or colors and aesthetics for the table. I thought about it, because that's what a lifestyle post should sound like. I started writing and I realized, I'm not celebrating this year. I didn't feel this day come and growing up it was a day I always looked forward to. December 24th has always been our family holiday party. Growing up, Christmas time was always the best memories of my childhood. It was a family tradition more than a religious one, since majority of my family is Muslim. To many others outside my family, this was a strange concept. I was often asked how I could be Muslim and celebrate a Christian holiday. 

I grew up with a Muslim father and Catholic mother, although she didn’t like to be labeled. I love them both dearly, but my father didn't always approve or understand my mom's celebration. Raising me and my siblings in America, he held onto religion tightly. He didn't want us to be confused, he wanted us to be more excited for Ramadan - he basically had his own reasons as to why we shouldn’t celebrate Christmas. But I never really understood where my dad was coming from. My mom never taught me to believe in Santa, she never took us to mass; to her it was more important to teach us about love.. about the importance of coming together and about happiness. She was a very spiritual and loving person, so to me Christmas has always been about family. Even as a kid, I’ve always understood my religion is Islam but my family and I just loved to spend time together whenever possible. But this is something I think is hard for others to understand. A tree, exchanging gifts, Christmas lights - it's all just decoration and fun. And that may seem strange to say, especially these days when we have to sound politically correct all the time. But it's the truth, to me Christmas was a time to be with my family, to get together and forget all our problems.