Sleigh bells ring are you listening, in the lane temptation is glistening . . .
It’s December and Christmas is on steroids. Your friends are posting long articles about keeping Christ in Christmas, there’s a debate in the comments section on why people should say “Happy Holidays,” there’s your group of friends that celebrate Hanukkah, and your parents are wondering if you’re going to wear a red and green hijab for the family Christmas portrait. What’s a recently converted Muslim to do?
Despite being an adult, I’m very much a baby Muslim – so while the seasoned veterans can get through Christmas without batting an eyelash, there are some of us who need a little help. For the last few months, I’ve been mentally preparing myself for the Merry Mayhem and I’m super pumped to put my plan into action. Here are some tips I’ve found most helpful when shielding yourself from the holly jolly juice everyone is sipping.
1. Do NOT decorate the tree!
Like a moth to a flame, we as humans are drawn to tradition. My personal favorite is tree decoration. This is a pine scented trap. Sure maybe it’s just one red ball now but before you have a chance to blink you’re parading around the living room with reindeer antlers and high off the scent of eggnog.
2. Limit your Christmas music intake.
Those songs are just so darn catchy! But you don’t have to play them 24 hours a day throughout December. Take a step back and only play it for 23.5 hours this holiday season.
3. Explain rather than debate.
As much as we hate to admit it, it is not the job of our various family members to do deep theological research into our newly acquired faith. So even if your grandmother asks you five hundred times how you could betray Jesus like this, smile and explain your feelings in the nicest way possible. Remember, Muslims are about manners.
4. Continue making cookies with the youngsters.
Perhaps your family has a certain tradition they do every year. Maybe it’s baking cookies, maybe it’s helping out at the local shelter, maybe it’s an ugly sweater party. Participate in these things. Strengthen the ties with your family as best you can.
5. Frequently remind everyone about the gift situation.
Exchanging gifts is the bread and butter of Christmas time. So once again kindly and frequently remind people who you won’t be giving or receiving anything from Santa this year. There will be one or two people trying to say, “Well what if I get you something anyway because I love you and don’t give it to you on Christmas?” These people mean well so be gentle in your response. My preferred response is to remind them that I do accept any and all gifts on my birthday.
6. When in doubt, pray it out.
God cares about the smallest struggles you feel. Reach out to Him.
Christmas can be a difficult time if you aren’t prepared to deal with the reality that it isn’t your holiday anymore. It’s okay to feel sad about it, it’s okay to stare longingly at the Christmas lights and whisper Silent Night to yourself. Just don’t forget about the decision you made. Santa may see you when you’re sleeping, but remember: it’s God that stands beside you everyday.