In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
When I was little, I was Christened, which is quite common for children in England. When I was a teenager I didn't believe in Christianity whatsoever, but still joined in with Christmas. When I was 16 I reverted to Islam, alhamdulilah.
Christmas as a child
It was never a time of religious value. It was more about giving and receiving present's on the 25th December. I think perhaps my Nanna took me to the church at xmas once in my life, I didn't enjoy it at all.
In England we usually have around 2-3 week's off from school called "the xmas holiday's".
Once December hit's, at school we do lots of festive activities, star in nativity play's, and have xmas parties, so after all that we are super excited and were counting down how many sleeps there were before xmas, along with eating a chocolate a day from an advent calaendar.
Christmas morning always used to be so warm when I woke up, either from the fire place warming the house or the central heating, depending on which house we were in. It hadn't snowed "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas", is just only a dream as it rarely snow's on xmas, it is in the middle of winter but for England I think it has snowed once or twice on xmas day. Running downstairs to see the glow of the xmas tree light's, twinkle of ornament's and tinsel (sometimes I took some to wrap around my pony tail/plait for school), foil streamer's across the ceiling which we put up a couple week's before the 25th and of course, seeing lot's of gift's in xmas wrapping paper covering the floor and settee, an area for me and area's for my brother's. Sometimes there'd be a santa's sack for each of us full of chocolate and sweet's too. Our stocking's were usually just for display.
We'd sometimes take it in turn's in opening the gift's to enjoy each other's excitment and happiness, then other times we were that excited we just continued to go through our own pile's one present at a time. Open, play, fiddle with packaging, "Mum, can you open this?", "Mum this needs batteries", then leave it for after when all the present's are open and then continue to open the next. We usually had some sort of xmas music on too, which got changed to the new CD whichever one of us received.
I thanked my Mum (I knew about the whole Santa facade from a very early age!) and played with whatever it was that I received that year. My mum always used to be hot and bothered coming in and out of the kitchen as she was preparing dinner in her nightie (we all stayed in our pyjama's, I mean who gets dressed for xmas morning?!)
We enjoy the xmas tv, usually festive film's like Home Alone or christmas special's of our favourite tv programme's. The Queen's speech usually airs in the afternoon, but we rarely watched that. There's also an annual airing of 'The Snowman'. Now, I don't know if you have it anywhere else in the world but it's quite the tradition here (that and the ugly coca cola advert that people seem to think trigger's the xmas season these day's). They updated 'The Snowman' this year but I have refused to watch it. I can't stand how they have to ruin all the classic's. The original drawing's, story and music were what made it what it is, the advert I saw of the new version just cheapened the whole thing.
At dinner, we have a large roast. Turkey, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, swede, carrots (got to love the British root vegetable's!), peas, yorkshire pudding's and lots and lots of gravy. Before we start we pull cracker's, read the lame joke's, smile and start playing with at the basic toy that comes inside (even though we have hundred's of pound's worth of toy's sitting in the living room!) and put on our paper hat's. I'd tell you about dessert, but there wasn't usually any room for it, although Mum did make trifle and usually defrosted a chocolate gateau.
After that we'd then take our pile of present's upstairs to our room (Michael McIntyre did a sketch about this and it's so funny because it's true!). We'd then play with one of the toy's or gift's we had for a while then i'd go get dressed in a party frock to go to my Dad's, with a little de-tour to my Nana and Grandpa's house first.
There my Nanna would have made a buffet. Her homemade strawberry cheesecake was my favourite and i'm pretty sure that's where my love of strawberries came from! My great Nan and Uncle would be there too. Then we opened our present's - like a second round of xmas. I guess that's one of the few perk's of having divorced parent's as a child. My granddad usually prepared some party games, pass the parcel, musical chairs, musical statues, charades and dingbat's (i've just been racking my brain for that word!) which he had clipped from newspaper's...ahh, fun before the internet!
Then as I got older the dynamic of family changed slightly, but that was what happened most year's. Then one year I was in Orlando, Florida in the middle of Disneyland enjoying the xmas parade. Then another day finishing from Universal studio's we went to see The Grinch in the cinema as it was just released there, meaning I was one of the first Brit's to see that movie. So it all just made it really festive and magical. Now that I look at it, it's just for commercial value, very little people celebrate xmas for it's real meaning and I think that says alot for Christianity, that something is in actual fact wrong with what they believe. I really wish people could be as happy all year round as they are at xmas, you'd think they'd make the joy last a little longer by looking at how much they spend for just one day. I've noticed as i've got older that everyone seems to be happy but as soon as it hits midnight and it's the 26th, everyone resorts to being miserable again.
Christmas as a revert
Who doesn't love twinkling lights, music, gift's, food and theatric's? Everybody does and I reckon that it the reason why it's hard to "get over" xmas as a revert. We spent the majority of our lives (depending on how long you've been Muslim) looking forward to that moment of the year. It was also the same repetitive stuff, taking over our mind's, as I could still sing you plenty of xmas song's "So here it iss Mer-..." perhaps not!
Yes, we know that as Muslim's we do not celebrate it, it is pagan tradition, we have been blessed with the straight path, alhamdulilah. Prophet Jesus/Isa (AS) is not son of God (astagfirlah) these are not the thing's which we miss. Well, personally for me, it isn't and I know for alot of revert's it isn't. It's the warm, festive, happy, gift receiving time that had barely any religious meaning but was fun and something which everyone eagerly looked forward too.
Just looking at the date 25/12 brings back that childish excitement. Nostalgia can have such a powerful effect on me. Also, as the minority there is no way to escape it because it is so commercial these day's. Shopping centre decoration's go up week's before, you go into shop's or even a simple petrol station and they play xmas music. Supermarket isle's are dedicated to xmas stock month's before and tv advert's are full to the brim of "xmas savings" or the thing's you just must have to ensure you have the best day and neighbour's line their house with light's and oversized snowmen. It is literally everywhere. 25th December also happens to be my little brother's birthday. So I do go to my Mum's house on the 25th and have dinner with her and my little bro, however that doesn't have anything to do with Christmas celebration's, she isn't religious either. My birthday is also in December, so it was a fun month for me as a child, and I think it maybe why it held more meaning.
Now as a revert, I make the most of our two Eid's. Go to mosque (where possible), pray, do fun thing's with the family, decorate the house, make lovely food, share gift's, so it isn't like I am missing out. Now there is a proper meaning behind Eid, unlike Christmas which on one hand is commerical fakery with pretend happiness and the other is sheer blasphemy which is also based on pagan tradition's.
I make the most of boxing day sale's and inshaAllah will be going this year with a friend. If I spot any discounted decoration's I will snap them up for Ramadan and Eid celebration's. Therefore I save money by not giving into corporate rate's with buying out of season. I save the tree's by not sending out xmas card's, or will ever force my future child to sit on a stranger's lap (who don't even get screened fyi!) or even wish a "Merry Christmas" as it's simply pointless blasphemy. I will tell them to enjoy their day or holiday, but i'd say that no matter what time of year it is. There is simply no reason to lower your faith just to fit in, I can even use this time for dawah as it's generally when more question's are asked and i'm saying this with having family who are not Muslim's, so for born Muslim's to join in with other faith's festivities is a little odd. You don't find Jew's or Hindu's joining in with Ramadan, we all have our own holiday's and festival's which we keep to, there shouldn't be any need for pick and mix-ing. I please Allah SWT first. I would never give up my faith just so I can go back and enjoy a materialistic celebration again.
I am one person who Allah SWT (the one God) blessed with Islam out of 4/5 of people in the world - 1/5 are Muslim already. I am blessed, I could have very easily been overlooked, Allah is most gracious and kind. Islam has only bettered my life. Xmas is only temporary happiness, whereas a content heart is happiness for life. This is my test in being a revert, and I plan on passing it. I don't wish to make excuses and wriggle out of my duties as a Muslim. I can only hope that my fellow revert's do too as I pray for the best for them, remember that you are strong. Sure, there have been times when my iman has dipped and I have had shaitaan's whispering's and that want to "be included", however I just remind myself that I already have been included into something far far greater; Islam, which will benefit me in the long run and inshaAllah to Jannah, Ameen.
That is how I know I am blessed, Allah SWT loves me, didn't want me to fail so gifted me with the right path in life and that holds a much greater value than whatever could be wrapped and put under a xmas tree.