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Op-ed

A Holiday Time Guide for Non-Christians

As the 18 year old daughter of two Turkish immigrants, I often found myself left out during the holidays as my friends talked about all of their family traditions and all the presents they received. Of course, it was a bit selfish of me to be sad just because I didn’t get presents, but as a younger kid, especially when I was still in elementary school, it was a big deal for me. Similarly, my English teacher recently told me that her daughter (an elementary school English teacher) had a young Turkish girl in her second grade class and that when they were doing holiday activities she started to cry because she felt left out. I’m not suggesting we should change the way that school holidays are, but here are some suggestions for making them better of those who might not celebrate Christmas:

Start exchanging presents with your friends and family on New Years day
New Years is a non-religious holiday which celebrates a fresh start and the perfect time to give people gifts (big or small) in appreciation for them and in hopes that you’ll have a happy year together. This is what my family does and it works really well. Little kids would especially love this one.

If someone wishes you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, Happy Holidays, etc. wish them one back even if you don’t celebrate that holiday
This seems like a really obvious one but sometimes people forget. As someone with lighter skin, people often assume that I am Christian so I get a lot of “god bless you” and whatnot, but remember 99.9% of the time these greetings are said with good intentions. Saying it back is simply courteous and makes people happy.

Throw a “holiday” or “winter” party rather than a “Christmas” party
Any excuse is a great excuse to get together with friends and eat or spend time

If you have a younger child in your family, see if their teacher might be willing to let you come in and read a book about whatever holiday you celebrate
For the little girl I mentioned at the beginning, her mom came in and read her class It’s Ramadan Curious George. I didn’t even know that book existed, but it was a really happy reminder to me that, as much as we don’t see it sometimes, we are diversifying.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but they are things that I’ve found to make my life easier and happier. All of these are my own opinions and if you don’t agree or have other tips please share your insight with me. Also, I’ve only experienced this specifically from a white muslim’s perspective, so I know that there are things I can’t possibly give good advice on.

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