• Susan Pattis

What Does Christmas Holiday Mean to You? (Part III)

Lucy: For me, Christmas Day means chaos, tears, and laughter. I usually start about 5 am because my daughter decides to wake up the whole family. Everyone went straight for the presents under the Christmas tree; and there were happy tears for wanted gifts, and sad faces from those whose gifts were not perfect, soon there were toys, Christmas paper, laughing, babies, and teenagers filling the living room. The family spent days preparing for Christmas Day; we even spent several hours preparing carrots and a bowl of water for the reindeer and mince pies for Santa Claus decorated with glitter, tinsel and served with a glass of milk. I prepared the Christmas lunch with my mom, older sister, and cousin in a tiny kitchen. There were bad jokes, paper hats, beer, ham, and roast chicken, these were all part of my Christmas Day. From when my mom married 58 years ago, she kept a diary of the dishes she served each year for her Christmas memories. My family's Christmas holiday tradition lived on from generation to generation. Despite the chaos, exhausting activities, and a big crowd, I love every Christmas and my family.


Larry: Christmas means the following things to me:

  • Something to captivate the enthusiasm of a young boy.

  • Something to fully embrace the religious significance.

  • A celebration of light and warmth during the long, cold winter weather.

  • A haven of struggle and a confused childhood during my parents' divorce battle.

  • A secular celebration and that I could see my parents' smiling faces besides presents and meals.

  • A relaxing time during which I could play all kinds of games, freely without worrying about work or chores.

  • A long-vacation time in which to see the beauty of my environment whether in the US or another part of the world.

  • A party open to anyone who enjoys putting up lights and a tree for the two Christmas weeks.

Daher: Christmas means nothing special for me because I grew up in a Muslim family. I used to be so sad during the Christmas holiday because the boys and girls in my school got new clothes and toys. My father got mad when I asked him to buy a Christmas tree to decorate when I saw other neighbors putting up their trees. I didn’t enjoy Christmas spirit because my family had no lights around the house and no feast on Christmas Day. Another reason that I didn’t resonate with the Christmas holiday was the argument between my parents, uncles, and relatives related to the rights and wrongs between Islam and Christianity. My family could not accept that there was one God for all humans regardless of religion and spiritual practices.


Fang: I am a math and science tutor for kids between 5 and 10 years old. For me, it is the busiest time of the year for my tutoring job. All the kids have at least ten days off from school without testing or having homework. Most parents pay for tutoring services to help their children learn new skills, enhance existing knowledge, and to catch up with missed classes. I have love-hate feelings towards Christmas. On one side, I could make more money during the Christmas holiday due to the greater demand for my tutoring services, and on another side, I had to work fifteen hours a day during the holiday. During the holiday season, I could see a room full of Jewish, Muslim, Buddha, and Hindu teachers at one tutoring center I worked at, all covering shifts for Christian co-workers. I usually told my students about my Buddha practice and Chinese holiday traditions for multi-cultural experiences.


Peggy: In the Christmas season, red decorations would start popping up from around the end of November and finish after Valentine's Day. In my primary school years, each class member would bring in something to decorate the class, and we usually made decorations out of cardboard, paper, glitter, glue, and tinsel in the Art Room. The highlight was that we sang Christmas songs together from our Songs of Praise booklets whilst making our decorations; they contained almost every Christian song I could remember. For the Christmas Carols, the teachers in charge would put on a nativity play, and then, excited children would scream out lyrics to selected Christmas songs. My Christmas spirit was less exciting in my secondary school years because most of my classmates no longer had enthusiasm for decorating the classroom. We focused on talks of fundraising at every school assembly, which reached a peak on Charity Day. Most of us enjoyed the community car-wash activity because students splashed each other with soapy water and danced and sang songs while we pretended to wash cars. Of course, we were constantly reminded of the most important thing about this time of year: Jesus, the reason for the season.