Thursday afternoon I am giving a powerpoint presentation to my 10th grade class about Christmas Art, Music and Drama (it's a Fine Arts appreciation class so I can get away with it)
So I've been doing quite a bit of thinking, gathering of information on Google and pondering on what exactly I say.
Have you ever tried to explain your culture to someone? It requires really understanding what exactly one's culture truly is. I have new empathy for all those foreign exchange students who gave slide shows to eager Rotarians wondering "what your culture is like"? And how UNFAIR it is to put the weight on one person to give answers for all peoples.
I could tell them about my family traditions of hiding gifts (started by Grandma Maxine) or of eating a different thing for supper. Everyone gets their favorite thing which, in my family means Steak for David, Oyster Stew for Ben and I and Butter Noodles for Anna. I could also tell that we used to have Lutefisk for supper when my parents were living and the Christmas after my dad died, my brother said "No more stinkin' lutefisk". Dad was German-Mom was norwegian but the man did love a good bowl of the stuff.
I am trying to show representational pictures but even that gets complicated: Christmas trees, Santa (have you ever thought about how WEIRD it is to tell the tale of a fat guy landing on the roof with reindeer and jumping down a chimney?) and of course the tale of Jesus born in a manger after Mary rode the donkey through the area. Hey I've ridden a donkey here in the Middle East, and it's no easy task!
But these people don't acknowledge Jesus as a Chosen Son of God. (they believe Mohammed was their Man)
Although I did hear a student reference Jesus the other day
"Hey Abdullah, your momma is so old, she sat by Jesus in the 3rd grade"
It made me laugh.
Christmas is recognized here in the shopping way. A former student came into my office yesterday (she is on break from university) and said "I LOVE Christmas... I know I am Muslim but I really get into the whole shopping and celebrating thing". She's probably do very well shopping on Black Friday at Target.
Christmas Eve this year will find us in Granada Spain. Anna asked if we are planning on attending church. I said of course and she replied that it wasn't on her list of things to do.
"A Catholic Service in Spanish mom...c'mon".
I told her that her father and I attended a Catholic Service held in Latin and German in Austria so we've got to uphold the tradition.
We've also been to the site where Silent Night was written and yes we did sing the song.
I've placed my humble little "charlie brown Christmas tree" (made by my longtime friend DG "Ugly") and a few Kuwaiti-purchased decorations up around the tree. The Christmas camel is my personal new favorite. Along with these "new" decorations are the ones I brought from home: Aunti LuEtta's homemade wedding gifts to us, a couple things Ben and Anna made when they were in Elementary and a few others.
I guess what I have come to understand is that even though everyone has different traditions and ways to celebrate, the important thing is to keep in mind what it means to you and to honor that in whatever way is meaningful for you.
So, somewhere in Spain, I'll be lighting a candle and thinking of all of you.
Freuliche Weinaughten (that was horrible German spelling, sorry)
and God (Allah) Bless us Everyone!