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Getting to the Christmas that Fits Us


So, before Christmas I wrote about changing up our holiday season.  I bought the workbook, I did the work, I talked with my people and we implemented some changes.  By doing this workbook, I was also able to help a lovely family (comprised of a born Muslim, a Convert and a young child) come to a compromise about celebrating some aspects of the holiday without infringing on their beliefs.

In short, this holiday season was a WIN.

Here’s what happened.

I bought the workbook and plunged in.  I got very honest with myself.  Then at one point in the workbook, it asked me what are the most important things about Christmas to my children.

I couldn’t answer this definitively.  So, I admitted it to myself and a select few that I was really nervous about asking my people…and then I asked them.  I framed in it a question that covered ALL the holidays that we celebrate, so I wasn’t just focusing on Christmas, when in fact, that is what I really needed to know about.  Over a pretty shaky few days (for me), I asked my people what their favorite parts of EVERY Holiday.  Starting with New Years Eve, and ending on Christmas Day.

The first thing they said was, “spending time with our family.”

Every Time, for Every Holiday.

The second thing was something about the special activity we do for each holiday. Sleeping in the same room, special desserts, fireworks, cake, trading plates with the neighbors, the big meals, hanging the cards, inviting people over, eating cookies, trick or treating…

Then it was doing random fun stuff together.

Last it was getting gifts.

For me, Christmas was about seeing my extended family on Christmas Eve (Aunts & Uncles and my Cousins), and how much I missed that tradition.  It was about Cookie Weekend and how much I miss that my extended family wasn’t interested in participating anymore.  It was about sending out 2 times the number of cards I received.  It was about spending a lot of time and money on gifts that were not interesting or were cast aside within minutes.  It was about disappointment.

Then, when I asked my children what was important to them, I changed Christmas.

I focused on Spending Time With Family.

We had cousins spend the night multiple times.  We didn’t get bogged down in the should’ves and took short cuts to do the fun part.  We invited cousins over that we don’t see often, and spent the entire day together.  We invited friends over that don’t even celebrate Christmas and didn’t worry about our tree still being up.  We decorated as much as we could.  We didn’t get everything done, but there were a lot of lights.  I sent out the cards, and then I took pictures of every card that arrived and posted it everywhere because I wanted to share how important those cards are to me.

And then Khaled and I decided that instead of buying a great number of gifts that would be cast aside, we would buy a few things that were at the tops of their lists, and plan a vacation together.  We would focus on what was most meaningful to our children.  Spending Time With Family.

On Christmas Eve, we went to celebrate with Grandma and Papa.  We had the traditional meal for our family of Scalloped Potatoes and Turkey Ham, Salad, Rolls, Relish Tray and Cookies.  We opened gifts and enjoyed each other’s company.

On the way home, we called the local pizza place and ordered pizza.  We weren’t hungry, it was a gift to our family from Khaled and Mr. Fox so we didn’t need to cook on Christmas Day.  (Pizza isn’t an unusual occurrence at our house, we do it a few times a month, but it was new to buy it like this.)

On Christmas Day, we made cinnamon rolls, we opened gifts, we shared our excitement with our family and we stayed home.  Later that day, our good friend came to visit and we celebrated with her.  Grandma and Grandpa stopped over to visit.  At the end of the evening, we didn’t want to go to sleep because we were all still hanging out together, having fun, and no one was disappointed.

On New Years Eve, we celebrated the way we always do, with a sleepover in the same room, special snacks and fancy juice.  We watched a movie together until just before midnight and then we clinked glasses at the stroke of midnight.

A few days later, we left for vacation.

We spent 6 days in a hotel room together, travelling together, eating together and playing together.

We had fun the Entire Time, and no one was disappointed.

So, how does this fit into My Islamic Life?  Well, we talked about how Christmas the holiday that Christians celebrate the Prophet Jesus’ birth.  We attended Jumaa every Friday except when we were travelling.  We received Christmas Cards from Muslim friends.  When we ordered our Christmas pizza we specified that we didn’t want the bacon on our pizza and they explained that they have specific pans they use for Pork-Free pizzas so there isn’t any cross contamination.  On vacation, we visited The Cairo Market and got Halal Takeout.  Every morning, during breakfast at the hotel, Khaled chatted with Hamid and Ahmed our waiters.  Ahmed, coincidentally, grew up in our city and was married at The Big Mosque.  During our time on vacation, we witnessed many people praying in public spaces, and everywhere we went, we met other Muslim families.

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