Monday, December 28, 2009

What does Christmas really mean?

The older babygirl gets, the more I have to ponder this question.

My husband and I are the only Muslims in our families.

We strive to live our lives as examples of our practice of Islam and very rarely talk "against" the practices our families have chosen to adopt. What I try to get them to do, however, is think about what they are doing and why.

For about three years my husband has tried to beat my family and his over the head with Jeremiah 10:2-5. He asks them what is means and most say it is a general reference to idolotry. We believe it is a condemnation of the people who decorate and worship the tree and it warns us not to do the same. So if you think you can have a tree up and not worship it, I guess you can do it. But are you really sure you are NOT worshipping the tree and the gifts? How can you be sure? Those are the real questions.

This year we are in LasVegas for the holidays. Two weeks here to be exact.

On Christmas Eve my sister in law and her family were still putting ornaments on the tree and I asked my daughter not to join them. She was cool, the fam was cool. End of Round 1.

Her husband is a minister, so I asked what I could expect on Christmas day. Prayer? Devotion? Any religious practice? He said, No. Hmmm? Muslims are taught to stop 5 times each day for the rememberence of Allah and on this one day, we have no time set aside? My sister is a minister as well and there is no family devotion on Christmas day there either. Though I am quick to remind people that Christmas is not the equivalent of Ramadan, I still have an expectation. I wonder why that is?

On Christmas Day, I awoke and my sister in law was cooking. Gifts sat under the tree, people lazily awakened and about 3 hours after stirring my brother in law asks the family to gather (we're in his home). He said he had an empty feeling and he knew what it was, he wanted to lead us in prayer and said that it was prompted by my question, "How do you worship on Christmas?" Before opening gifts, he said he honestly wondered how this was going to work with our new family dynamic. He is a Christian minister, we are Muslims and my other sister-in-law recently married so here come a whole lot of traditions and customs and no one took the lead.

We decided that we have to create our own tradition for this day we call Christmas. We decided on fewer gifts, more devotion and more love for our family. (2 days later the children still have unopened gifts under the tree. Can you say toy overload?) End of Round 2.

We can't stop our family from doing the tree and wrapping paper thing, but we did get them to stop and spend some time honoring the Creator and teaching our children why we gather on this day. Partly we do because most are off work during this time. Another reason is that my husbands mother, the matriarch, wants it this way. She even bought our plane tickets to get us here. We can't boycott, even though we want to at times, because we are taught to respect our elders. I don't think that anyone thinks that Jesus was born on December 25. But we should tell our children why we think he is important enough to celebrate his birthday (if we believe this). Otherwise, lets just call it a family reunion and skip the decorations (my idea :o)....So we find ways to satisfy the requirements and desires of our faith while being good guests and physical reminders to our family. End of Round 3.

No comments: