Some of my favorite memories from childhood stem from this holiday season. The smell of chestnuts roasting at Macy’s on 34th street, coupled with the bell ringer collecting donations for The Salvation Army always made me feel warm and fuzzy. Let’s not forget the smell of cookies baking for the fat man with the beard who came down the chimney with gifts (we didn’t have a chimney growing up y’all). Serious side eye to my mom! Or the brand spanking new pajamas that my cousin and I got every year for Christmas. New pj’s and slippers was a Christmas tradition in my house growing up.
My grandmother and mother would get us all bundled up, cuz y’all know those cold December days in NY were no joke right, and we’d pile into my Gram’s sky blue 76 Chevy Nova (my flyness runs deep) and mosey on down to the St. Albans Congregational Church for Christmas Eve service. Not my favorite part but it was tradition. I knew that if I could just hold on long enough to make it through that service, I’d get treats and gifts when I got home. We’d open a few gifts and then save the rest for Christmas morning when we woke up.
Oh and the food! Souse made with pig feet. Don’t judge me, because if I wasn’t Muslim, I’d be smashing a plate right now! The salami, cheese, and olive platter, paella, baked ham, mac & cheese, greens, cod fish cakes, fried plantanos, and peas & rice. Man, we used to throw down! My love of good food must have come from the holiday times in my house growing up. It was a good time all around.
I honestly, can’t remember most of my gifts because…I guess that wasn’t the most important part. Well, I do remember one. My aqua blue boom box that my mother got me for Xmas when I was 13. It had a tape deck and everything! I believe she still has it in her house now (makes note to look for it in the kitchen on my next visit).
Life was great back then. In fact it still is. I couldn’t ask to be more blessed. My life has been shaped by all of the experiences I’ve had and memories I have to this day. Some may wonder, how I can speak so freely about Christmas as a Muslim who no longer celebrates it. Well, my answer is simple. Christmas was a major part of my life for the first 28 years of it. I stopped celebrating it a few years before becoming Muslim, however the memories of the good times, love, and warm fuzzy’s will always be a part of me. Why should I not honor those feeling and memories?
This has absolutely nothing to do with honoring the Pagan or Christian tradition. For me it is purely about the memories of the happiness this time of year brought into my life. We don’t put up a Christmas tree, go to church or give gifts anymore. In fact, I don’t wish my family a Merry Christmas either, BUT I do make sure to call them on the day just to hear everyone’s voice and to let them know that even though I have taken a different path in my life, they are still important to me and I will always cherish those memories. Outside of that, Christmas day is just another day around the Thomas household.
With that, I don’t give a hooting toot what anyone has to say… I listen to Christmas music (everyone knows Donny Hathaway’s This Christmas is the joint), drink egg nog, and watch A Christmas Story every year during the holidays! I even enjoy looking at the homes decorated for the season. (y’all better watch out cuz next Eid, my house is going to be LIT!) I’m a Muslim who loves the feeling of Christmas and I’m ok with that. So for my fellow Muslim converts, what are your favorite memories of the Christmas season?