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What Christmas means to me

Ralphie on slideI can’t help but be happy this time of year. The holiday season is a time I look forward to once summer ends because it makes me think about my childhood. The holiday season means I spend time with my family, eat great food, reflect on the year and set goals for the next year.

I grew up in a Muslim household and we didn’t have a Christmas tree to decorate or gifts to open Dec. 25. But that never stopped me from enjoying the season. Christmas Day was my kickoff to a week of almost nonstop holiday events with my family.

Every Christmas morning started with the viewing of my favorite Christmas movie, “A Christmas Story.” Then, we would load up the minivan and visit different relatives’ homes for hors d’oeuvres, dinner and dessert. After dessert, all of the cousins would head off to the movies.

Then, a couple days after Christmas, we would go to my aunt and uncle’s house for a Kwanzaa celebration. Their house was always packed but more people would come eacy. We would discuss the seven principles of Kwanzaa in detail, remember our ancestors and eat more food. Then my cousins would leave me with my parents (since I am much younger than them) and go out dancing.

After Kwanzaa, the next big holiday event was a New Year’s Day brunch at my aunt’s house. My aunt would start serving food shortly after the ball dropped and we would eat all day. We would end the day by discussing the last principal of Kwanzaa, Imani, which means “faith.” Everyone had an opportunity to share what faith meant to them for the New Year. It was the perfect way to end the holiday season.

Even though I was raised as a Muslim, I am grateful my parents gave me the opportunity to share the holidays with my extended family. Although a lot our family’s Christmas traditions have changed over the years, I will always have my wonderful memories. One thing that hasn’t change, however, is we still have our big Christmas Day dinner. I’m already hungry just thinking about it.