December came along and sucker punched me.
We’re all taking turns getting sick. Some of us are not waiting their turn and now of all of us are sick at the same time. Add to this a sniffly whining preschooler asking about a Christmas tree 45 times a day, every single day and I am just about done with this year.
I also got peer pressured into volunteering at the preschool for the Holiday’s Around the World presentation. I was asked to present Ramadan and Eid. Trust me, I’m just as shocked as you are that I was the best candidate they found to speak about anything Islam. I got paired with another Muslim mom who five minutes before we were to go on turned to me and whispered,
“What does As-Salamu Alaykum mean?”
We were so screwed.
“It means peace be unto you” I replied.
The purpose of the presentation was to show the kids that people of all faiths are more similar than different. We all celebrate our traditional holidays with family and food. A common theme in a lot of celebrations is light. Think of Christmas and the Star of Bethlehem. Channukah and the candlelight of the Menorah, Diwali is the festival of light celebrated with candles and lanterns. Ramadan and Eid begin upon the sighting of the light of the new moon.
I admit I actually learned a few things sitting there listening to the other parent’s talking about how they celebrate their holidays. I think all the parents did.
These preschoolers play with each other. They all look different and it doesn’t bother them the slightest bit. I love that my son is being exposed to other faiths early so that he may grow up to be tolerant of all differences. So he may be aware of the differences in how people worship, eat, dress, celebrate and speak and know that essentially we are all the same. I want to teach him tolerance. If he comes across someone that does things unlike anything he’s seen before, I don’t want him to be fearful. There is variation in humanity and just as he is now, I want him to stay curious and accepting.
On the way home I called a friend.
“Where do I buy a Christmas Tree?”
I confess – I had no idea where to buy them. Or what I needed to decorate them. Did you know you need hooks? And a tree skirt? And that two hundred string lights is nowhere close to enough for wrapping around a seven and a half foot tree?
Thank Goodness for friends that meet you during your last minute crisis and help you throw half the store into your shopping cart.
And thank Goodness for my mom who surprisingly knew how to unbox a fake Christmas tree and set it up with lights and ornaments. Hi, immigrant Bengali mom who never had a Christmas tree in her house where did you learn this?
So now I have a Christmas tree, stockings hanging up on the mantle and a wreath on the front door. It’s beautiful and I love it. Just because we’re not attending Christmas Mass doesn’t mean we can’t have a tree up in our house. And just because we have a Christmas tree up doesn’t take way from us practicing our own religion. We’re all celebrating the same thing.
Peace on Earth.
The preschooler started jumping with excitement when he saw the tree. There is magic in this season and I see it in his eyes. He looked up at me and asked,
“When are we going to put lights up outside our house?”
I’m so done with this year.