My 10 year old daughter appeared a little sad the other day. When I asked her what was happening, she responded, "Mama, my friend Aaila is Muslim and she gets very sad when everybody is talking about Christmas and Santa Claus because she doesn't celebrate these holidays like we do. She asked us to not even tell her what we are doing and what gifts we get because it makes her cry. Sarah also doesn't celebrate Christmas because she is Jewish and celebrates Hanukkah. I don't feel as bad for her because you see Hanukkah things in school and in stores and she said she gets 7 days of presents." Although I am very proud of my daughter's empathy and awareness of her friends, I share her concern about our friends and clients who express feeling excluded and ignored during the holiday season.
Developing awareness in yourself, your family and your community that our neighbors, customers, coworkers and friends come from a variety of cultural and racial backgrounds is a good place to start. Acknowledging and educating yourself about the holiday celebrations of others does not lessen the importance of your own, however it increases the cohesiveness and unity in our communities by allowing each member to experience acceptance. Difference is beautiful and learning about others is the first step in understanding and making connections.
During this season, there are multiple holidays occurring- Hanukkah, Winter Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, 3 Kings Day, Chinese New Year and Diwali. Exploring these celebrations with yourself, family and children will create an expansive learning opportunity and could lead to making new friends of different backgrounds. After all, it is harder to hate someone you know than the stranger from across the globe- and isn't that what Christmas is about?
If you would like to learn more about multicultural holiday celebrations, you can check out https://www.mnn.com/family/family-activities/blogs/multicultural-winter-holiday-celebrations