Holiday time. It always gets me nostalgic. For what exactly, I’m never quite sure. For that Normal Rockwell Christmas that no one I know ever really had? Perhaps that’s part of it. But I think for me, the nostalgia is rooted in a simpler time. When the shiny, wrapped presents and the promise of once-a-year sweets beckoned. When finding joy from simple things wasn’t something I had to work at or think about. That joy was there naturally, without question.
Though I no longer celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday, as a secular holiday, I do participate, with varying degrees of enthusiasm from year to year. Frankly, some years I’d rather skip it. But I never do. And yes, I get it. It’s the birth of Christ, and I’m respectful of that.
As a kid growing up in America, my parents felt obligated, in retrospect I’m sure of this, to allow me to celebrate Christmas, even though ours was a interfaith household. So celebrate we did. With a plastic tree, lots of ornaments, presents, and cornbread for Santa Claus.
Yes, cornbread. It was Texas, after all, and Santa Claus was tired of cookies by the time he flew down to us, I was told. 😉
I appreciate the way my family adapted. One Christmas we happened to be in Iran. Over there, being that the majority of the population is Muslim, hardly anyone celebrates Christmas. Understandable. Except that year, my extended family did celebrate Christmas. They went to great lengths to get a tree, some gifts, and to decorate. I’m still not quite sure how they pulled it off. Amazing! This was years ago, and the country was at war. I’m quite sure there could have been repercussions had word gotten back to some authorities that a Muslim family was celebrating a Christian holiday. So my family took a risk.
Each year, I reflect back on that memory, and am more and more touched by what creating a Christmas for us meant for my family, not only in terms of the risks they took, but in the warm-heartedness it shows. It showed so much love, so much openness, and such incredible kindness. To me, that’s what the holidays are all about: kindness, compassion, and appreciating what we have and making the most of it.
Merry Christmas, everyone!