Ten weeks into my freshman year at college a few years ago (overseas), I experienced my first 'Christmas'. The commercialism confused me because we had nothing like that during Eid in Oman, but I tried to understand. I spent Christmas day alone reading.
During my second year of college, I was invited to spend Christmas with a Christian family and it completely changed my perspective. They welcomed me into their home with open arms and introduced me to their family traditions during this festive time. Televisions were put away, laptops switched off, and mugs of hot cocoa were made. They isolated themselves from the modern world and settled into a few days of pure family. We baked, we decorated the Christmas tree and wrapped gifts and gave to the poor and played Christmas music. I also went to Mass with them out of curiosity. It was snowing and there was a fireplace in the living room. Every moment from that magical time has remained intact in my memory.
From that moment, I have been working (in my own way) to promote religious tolerance among my friends, family and wider audience. I am proud to be a Muslim but I also deeply respect peaceful people of other faiths. Believing we are superior to others in religion or race or culture will not get us anywhere in this life. What this world needs is more tolerance.
I would like to wish all my Christian readers a blessed Christmas and a blessed Chanukah to members of the Jewish faith (the celebration started on December 20th and will continue until the 28th).
Peace - Nadia