Originally published in Flare.
My family didn’t celebrate Christmas. But I still remember wrapping an object I found in my parents’ bedroom with shoddy paper and re-gifting it to my mother when I was five years old. I wanted to celebrate so badly; I wanted to belong. As a Muslim, I know it may sound surprising at first to hear how deeply I love Christmas. But I’ve always felt there was something special about this time, and as someone who grew up outside these traditions, I know I’m not entirely alone in feeling this way. So I wanted to talk to women from across different faiths and ask them about their experiences navigating their own traditions with rituals outside their beliefs. Here are their stories.
Loving my family as they are
“I grew up super Catholic, so Christmas was very church-centric until I was a teen and stopped subscribing to Catholicism. But I owe credit to my mum and dad and the rest of my family: everybody’s very relaxed about religious and spiritual beliefs, so the focus has shifted from The Birth of Our Lord (TM) to hanging out and eating food and respecting whether someone wants to go to church after dinner or would rather fall asleep in front of Die Hard. So for me, Christmas as a grown-ass woman has been the result of years of unlearning religious-based traditions and prioritizing time with my family instead. Which hasn’t been difficult, actually, since the older I’ve gotten, the more I realize I actually really like them as people. Bless us, everyone.” —Anne T. Donahue