As a Muslim, I’ve never celebrated Christmas or Hannukah. But I find this time of year to be beautiful. I remember my younger self in school days and how we would have holiday parties and bring gifts for our teachers and friends, and driving around the cool crisp nights and seeing everyone’s holiday lights, ranking who did the best and who didn’t even try. Then there’s curling up with a mug of hot chocolate and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas and Harry Potter marathons. To this day, I still watch Arthur’s Perfect Christmas, a PBS Kids classic around Christmas time.
My family sometimes gave food to our non-Muslim neighbors during Ramadhan as a form of celebration, and during Christmans and New Year’s, my mom would sometimes buy gifts and make me and my brother go around the block to give them to all the families. I was taught at an early age by my mother about community and interfaith outreach through giving during this season.
While I sometimes find the holiday season increasingly commercialized with minimal spirituality, I’ve found that people around me make sure I am included in their celebrations. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) once said, "One who is not grateful to mankind is not grateful to God." I personally feel this really hits home for me.
Recently, my office had a small Christmas party. Although my co-workers know I do not celebrate, they included me in their gift giving: one gave the office cute gift bag filled with office essentials like lip balm, a pen, tissues, and chocolates while another gave a poinsettia which I eagerly brought home and put in my living room.
Some may find it strange for a Muslim to join in celebration with their non-Muslim neighbors. Some Muslims may even be against the idea. However, the Qur’an actually talks about being good to all people stating, "And do not forget to do good to one another," (2:238). I feel that I have been truly blessed this holiday season by being able to experience this goodness from others.
Here’s hoping you all have an amazing New Year, and an equally amazing lifetime of good spirit!