Don’t Even Front

December 14, 2007

xmastree.jpgSome of you miss Christmas.  Admit it.  The livingroom tree decked out in lights and tinsel, baking and decorating cookies, coming down in the morning for your presents.  Main street joined in the festivities.  Sparkling lights and evergreen garlands, red ribbon and pinecones everywhere.  It’s ok.  Breathe. It doesn’t mean anything.

 I always enjoyed Christmas growing up, and I grew up muslim.  We didn’t do trees or garlands or lights.  For me it just meant a nice break from school.   I’d spend my days curled up with books and playing with my siblings.  We might enjoy watching a “Charlie Brown Christmas” or some other cartoon, but we didn’t really give alot of thought to Christmas otherwise.

A few years back I went shopping with a friend of mine and her toddler.  As we came into the department store, we saw a nice display of greenery, gold ribbons and glistening ornaments.  I remarked, in passing, that it was pretty.  She disagreed, and then when on to add a few more comments.  I was like, “Uh, yeah. Riiiight.”  I imagine she was trying to prevent her child from seeing anything at all beautiful or positive about Christmas.  I suppose the goal is to make her less likely to want to change religions when she gets older.

No muslim wants their child to grow up and leave the religion.   But I don’t think that false bravado and lying is going to help with that.  We can acknowledge that the decorations are beautiful, it doesn’t mean that we want to celebrate the holiday.   You can admit that you miss caroling with your family.  It doesn’t mean that you want to leave islam. I think she was extra defensive because she grew up Christian, and so the Christmas season and all that comes with it tugged at her heart.  The sight of all that evergreen, and the sound of “jingle bells” coming through the speakers, I suspect, triggered fond memories of Christmas morning, presents, letters to Santa or whatever else she used to do.  The fond memories then set off alarms, and her outburst was the result.

When my kids and I go to the mall around Christmas, they like to look at the pretty wreaths and trees.  They pass by Santa at the “North Pole” display, knowing he’s some guy in a suit, and that there is another guy in a similar suit the next town over, and all over the country.  My daughter wonders aloud why the parents are lying to their children about who he is.  I shrug.   I don’t see how a lack of Santa myth would hurt anything, but then again, I’m just passively enjoying the sparkle.


10 Responses to “Don’t Even Front”

  1. LH Says:

    Well said, indeed. And refreshingly honest.


  2. y Says:

    I grew up Muslim and I kinda like Christmas time too. I see most of my extended family this time of year. And my parents, as much as they hate to admit it they like Silent Night by the Temptations. I need to write some Eid songs! And my grandmother STILL buys us gifts and has our collard greens with turkey at Christmas dinner. We would not dare tell her we are not coming over on Christmas. And as for decorations, I will not hesitate to tell someone if their Christmas decorations are ugly! We should respect the holiday the way we want respect on Eid.

  3. TVDinner Says:

    You know, I’m an atheist, and I freakin’ LOVE Christmas! Growing up, I went through a phase where I felt guilty for celebrating it. What’s the point of celebrating Jesus’ birth if I don’t believe Jesus was the son of God, or that any God even exists?

    I think I should interject something here and say that, often, atheists are understood to be hateful people who hate God and everyone who worships God. I absolutely respect the right of religious people to practice their religion in a way that doesn’t infringe on my right NOT to practice one, and I certainly don’t hate or look down upon people of faith.

    Ok, so that out of the way, here’s how I got over my Christmas guilt: Christmas, as we celebrate it here in the US, has almost nothing to do with the birth of Christ. Most scholars believe Christ was born sometime in the spring, and his birth sure as heck had nothing to do with trees. The trees come from an old, pagan religion (dunno which one and too lazy to look it up), and the date was superimposed over an old Roman holiday that celebrated Roman gods and the winter solstice.

    If some folks wanna celebrate the day as the birth of Christ, their savior, so much the better. But most of the symbolism associated with Christmas and the day we celebrate it have almost nothing to do with Christianity itself.

    So I don’t feel guilty anymore. To me, it’s a celebration of the solstice, of having survived the shortest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere), and an excuse to eat cookies and have my parents over. To me it’s no more than a cultural event.

  4. tanyetta Says:

    I grew up Seventh Day Adventist. It wasn’t until I became older that i sought out my own REAL reason for the season. Great post 🙂

  5. Chickpea Says:

    Great post! As a young woman who was raised Muslim but has since left Islam, I think you bring up very good points.

    Although in my family Christmas was a no-no, I always loved the holiday season – the smells, the sights, the good cheer from people. I do have fond memories of watching “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” almost every year with my family, with my dad singing “You’re a Mean One..” in his deep voice, although Christmas day was just a normal day to us.

    I have to agree with TVDinner, now that I’m older, I loooove the holidays, and have no problem admitting it. My boyfriend (who is Atheist) and I went out and bought a tree this year, and it’s beautiful. People ask how a former Muslim and an Atheist Jew can have a Christmas tree, and I ask “Why not?” Just as TVDinner says, I don’t feel guilty anymore. It’s definitely an excuse to have family and friends over, and at least in America, it seems to have turned into a cultural event for most.

    This is not to say that all Muslims should through their lots in with everyone else and go buy trees and wreaths. But the false bravado won’t achieve much in the long run.

  6. Chickpea Says:

    That’s a nice tree btw. I wish my could look as nice!

  7. Salaam Alaikum,

    If there was a Brass Crescent award for blog with most common sense, this one would win it, hands down. 🙂

  8. Anisah Says:

    I grew up SDA too Tanyetta, then was Muslim for about 14 years. I didn’t put up a tree or celebrate christmas while I was Muslim.

    Last year was our first Christmas. To us it’s just a fun holiday, and I want to teach my kids the joys of giving to others. I don’t think a lot of little things are important, such as what hand you eat with or what you say before you eat, or having a prayer schedule. What’s most important is how you treat others, being the best person you can be, and accepting them for what they are and what they believe.



  9. Anisah Says:

    I just read your archives, and wanted to add that I really enjoy your blog.


  10. nevemiriam Says:

    Hi Forever,

    luckily, all the way in the middle east I hardly see any indication of christmas. But I do wonder how i’d treat it were I in the USA.

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