Tis (Not) The Season?
For many people, Christmas means Santa Claus, gift-giving and various other holiday traditions. However, for me and millions of others who don't celebrate, it's just another day.
Before you call me a scrooge or criticize me for not having the "Christmas spirit", it is important to remember that there are millions of Muslims, Jews, Hindus and others ,including some Christians, who simply don't celebrate.
It's pretty difficult not to notice Christmastime, whether you celebrate or not. The moment the last fork is dropped at Thanksgiving, radios startup their holiday playlists and ABC Family (now Freeform) begins their "25 Days of Christmas" marathons. I'm not going to lie, Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas" has been stuck in my head for over a month.
Growing up in a Muslim household, my mother tried her hardest to shield us from Christmas. Now that I'm older, I understand that she just didn't want us to feel like we were missing out. When I was younger I did have moments where I felt that way, but that went away as I grew older and realized that I wasn't actually missing out on anything. I have my own holidays like Eid, and traditions that are special to me.
You may be wondering how non-celebrators spend Christmas: we all have various experiences and traditions. A friend of mine told me that her family always orders Chinese food on Christmas Eve, which is a common tradition amongst American Jews. Many people just enjoy the time off from work and school and catch up with friends and family. My mom usually goes to the mashjid, where they often hold events since many people are home from work. I often go to movie nights, catch up with old friends, or stay home and do nothing.
My advice to others who don't celebrate Christmas and may feel like they're missing out is to embrace it. Whatever your reason for not celebrating, it is apart of your identity and you should never be ashamed of that. I would also suggest asking friends and family who do celebrate to be courteous to your beliefs. During high school, I started to ask that any gift exchanges be nondenominational and not concurrent with Christmas. While I enjoyed the idea of getting together with my friends and getting gifts, I didn't think I should have to compromise my own beliefs.
For those who do celebrate, my advice is to be understanding. Never judge someone because they don't celebrate the same things as you. When someone tells you they don't celebrate Christmas, don't roll your eyes. Instead, use it as an opportunity to learn more about the customs of others.
This year one of my friends will be hosting a game night, and I'm also looking forward to not having to wake up for my 7am shift at work. Whether you celebrate or not, I hope you enjoy your day.