Why I Celebrate This Season

Recently a fellow Lipstick and Politics blogger Katrina Markel wrote about the “War on Christmas” and mentioned the reasons why so many cultures celebrate in this holiday season. My sister-in-law also sent me an email showing me pictures of the various holiday and Christmas celebrations around the world and it was very interesting, and inspiring, to see how the world embraces the season. Even though my family and I are not Christian, we do celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We set up a tree, put up lights, exchange gifts and have family dinners. So I’ve been reflecting on the reasons why I find Christmas and the season surrounding it to be one of my favorite times of the year.

Image courtesy of HikingArtist.com

It could be argued by some in my life that the contributing factor to my love of Christmas is the carols. I love them! They are simultaneously serenely enchanting and joyously festive, and they only come around during this season. And the message behind the music is optimistic and uplifting. But it’s not just the musical accompaniment to the holiday that makes me appreciate and look forward to this time of the year. As a second generation Canadian whose parents hail from India (and more specifically Punjab) I remember that as young children we used to celebrate Christmas and basically all Canadian holidays as a means to fit in. We would drag our begrudging and confused parents through all the traditions that were taught to us by our teachers, friends, and TV. What child wouldn’t want to celebrate an excuse to give and receive gifts, make feasts filled with all kinds of different foods, and practice the carols we would perform in the Christmas pageants at school? Thinking back, it was kind of hilarious how quickly my eternally practical parents clarified to us that there would not, in fact, be a fat stranger sneaking into our house in the middle of the night to leave us presents.

Photo courtesy of Infomatique

As we grew up, this desire to celebrate in order to fit in slowly evolved into a conscious choice to spend time and build memories with our friends, family and significant others. As Katrina pointed out in her blog, there are many coinciding holidays and festivals spread out through the various religions and cultures that make this time of year significant for most. However, these other holidays don’t have the widespread recognition either in the media or in our calendars that Christmas does. For example, while I always invite my Indian and non-Indian friends alike to come to my house to celebrate Diwali and enjoy an East Indian feast every year, it’s not always as convenient or recognizable as Christmas because Diwali is not the break from work and routine that December 25th is. All those years of making homemade Christmas decorations and having hybrid feasts that included both turkey and daal (Indian lentil soup) as young children have now become treasured memories and traditions that we get to laugh about as adults. I’m the kind of person who believes that any reason to celebrate is a good reason, especially with all of the things that can go wrong in a person’s day. So if Christmas is the time of year when my family and friends collectively have some time off, and we can come together to share the spirit of giving and love that is nearly palpable in the air right now, then that’s got to be my favorite time of year. It would be wonderful if Christmas came more than once a year; wonderful if the world would share a collective sense of peace, joy, renewal, family and traditions more often. Perhaps as the world continues to grow smaller and closer we will someday all celebrate the spirit and messages of peace and goodwill associated with other global holidays, like Vaisakhi or Ramadan.

Photo courtesy of Noel Weathers

I now realize that, despite the separation of my own religious upbringing from the history and religious significance behind Christmas, this holiday has other, non-religious significance for me and is connected to traditions that span more than two decades. I have been blessed to be raised in a multicultural family, where I get to enjoy and partake in rich festivities for both Indian and Canadian cultural events. I get great joy from sharing this diversity with my friends and partaking in the history and happiness of many different holidays together. Going forward I plan on someday raising my own children to acknowledge and celebrate Christmas, not only out of respect and love for their Christian friends, but also out of an appreciation for their own family’s traditions and the many meanings that this time of year holds for so many people.

For all of the reasons you celebrate, I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy Holiday Season.