(Ed. note: The first part of this two-part series, written by the author’s wife, a Christmas-celebrating American, is here: “The Modern Hortons”.)
I came from religious Muslim family, as I grew older, my parents did the pilgrimage to Mecca, fasted and prayed . I remember my father going to the Masjid to pray and my mother praying too. I guess what I am trying to say is my family was quite religious .
In Egypt, most of my Christian friends were Coptic and Christmas celebration is January 7th. My parents respected the “Christian” holidays and observed Christmas by fasting that day and celebrated with our neighbors. I learned from my parents to respect other religions and the people who practice them. My Dad used to tell us stories and assert how very close the holy books are as they came from the same God.
My friend at elementary school was Christian and we had to go to different classrooms during religious studies. When we got together we would talk about the prophets’ stories in the Bible and the Quran, we found that they are almost identical.
Fast forward to about 15 years ago, I met “the one”. We were going on our first date, where I went to her grandmother’s house to pick her up on the famous cookie weekend. When I was asked to get a Christmas tree for my almost bare bachelor’s apartment, I thought of it as a good start and just natural. I got to know about the Bronners’ Super Christmas store. Looking back now, we were starting to build our life together.
Every year we add more ornaments and have great fun in decorating the tree and the house. I love being able to be carried away with lights and the decorations. Shopping for the kids and my wife is a lot of fun. We all look forward to cookie weekend at our house now, opening the presents Christmas morning, but most of all we all look forward to Mommy’s home made cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning. Every year at this time it always hits me that we are very blessed to be able to spend another holiday together and celebrate it the way we want. There is always a point during the season where I feel calm and peaceful, remembering back to my childhood and start feeling what Christmas is all about.
A few years ago, our little ladies came home from school and dropped the bomb on Mommy that Christmas should not be observed by “Muslims”. I kind of knew that some Muslims thought that way about Christmas, despite the fact that Jesus is mentioned at least 25 honorable times in the Quran. That, I think was an eye opener for me as I am usually busy with work. I try to be proactive in the children’s perception and recognition of religion. I hope to teach them what my parents taught me, moderation and respect for all religions is essential to be a better person in life.
Khaled ElSayed, married father of three, loves holidays. You can put ‘holiday’ after any day of the year and he will find a way to celebrate it.