Christmas from a Non-Celebrator’s Perspective

The Lance 12 Days of Christmas: Day One

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Christmas from a Non-Celebrator’s Perspective

The Lance's writers celebrate their favorite parts of the holiday season.

The Lance's writers celebrate their favorite parts of the holiday season.

Siena Griffin

The Lance's writers celebrate their favorite parts of the holiday season.

Siena Griffin

Siena Griffin

The Lance's writers celebrate their favorite parts of the holiday season.

Christmas. The sound of ripping apart the wrapping paper Mom covered your new Airpods in. Your family gathering around a tree weighed down with ornaments you made in kindergarten. Elf playing in the background as you are all getting ready for your annual Christmas family dinner. This scene is what most people envision when it comes to Christmas, but for the non-celebrators, it sometimes feels like any other ordinary day. 

Growing up, before preschool and kindergarten, I never really understood what Christmas was. I was a child of two immigrant parents who also grew up without the big tree, glistening ornaments, and perfectly wrapped gifts. So naturally, I had the same thought about Christmas–that it was just any other ordinary day. That was until I entered school. 

When I entered Norwood Public School in kindergarten, the students were always encouraged to do something special for the holidays. The first day I witnessed these festivities, I was incredibly confused as to why kids were going around caroling and giving out candy canes. My curiosity was piqued, so I asked my peers why this was happening, and their answers were: “Christmas time!” and “It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”

That afternoon, I came home to my parents and asked them what Christmas was. They told me it was a special holiday that some people celebrated. I mean, my dad’s store was always decorated for this holiday out of respect for the Christmas celebrators, but I never had questioned why it was decorated, until I was enlightened as to what Christmas was. A problem remained: I still didn’t understand the full point of the holiday.

“So, what do you guys do?” I asked Isaac, my Christmas-obsessed table mate. 

“We just get presents and watch movies together,” he replied.

 “But what is Christmas all about?” I continued to question him. 

“I don’t know…getting presents and stuff,” Isaac said. 

“Okay.”

Then, I went to my dad’s store, Dairy & Deli, saw him clean up the front of his neighbors’ stores on Christmas Eve and Day, and give everybody a little gift. I didn’t have to ask Isaac what Christmas meant to him again. This simple act of kindness showed me what it was really about– giving and generosity.

Christmas. Sure, for the people who celebrate it, it may be the holiday where they get that new present that was on the top of their wish list. But, this is really a time of the year where people of all religious or nonreligious backgrounds bond through the spirit of giving.

This spirit of giving is a strong force that Christmas unleashes upon all of us, not just the celebrators. Take, for example, my mom, Rasha, who decided to take part in these Christmas traditions by making pastries for our neighbors, NVOT and Norwood Public School, and other town residents. 

Rasha Areiqat’s hummus

“My relatives aren’t here, so when I share my pastries with them, I love to see the smiles on their faces that remind me of how it was back when I was living in Jordan,” she said. “As a Muslim, seeing everybody get together and help each other this time of the year shows me what this holiday is all about: Family.” That annual tradition started back in 2011 and has not stopped to this day.

Rasha Areiqat’s baklava

Now, ten years later, I like to continue the tradition my mom started with our neighbors. My own little tradition is making cookies for my classes around the holiday time because I always want to spread that joyous feeling that I’ve seen others affected by. Sometimes, seeing the smiles on the people I come to school with every day brings me back to when I was five years old, in Kindergarten, questioning the purpose of this admired holiday.