The ‘melting pot’ that is America is at no time more evident than during the holiday-season. It reaches the crescendo at Christmas, when, whatever your ethno-religious background, you just don’t want to NOT be a part of all the revelry. What does it then mean for non-Christians, especially as you see yourself doing more for Christmas, than for your own festivals?
Shalaka Gole, a budding student of journalism from California High School in San Ramon lays it out rather nicely in an article posted on December 23, 2011 in San Ramon Patch .
An All-American Christmas, the Hindu Way:
There is nothing like the voices of Dean, Bing, Ella, Frank, and Judy to ring in the holiday season. This year, I started listening to Christmas music on Nov. 28. Our family’s old prelit tree stands decked out in the corner as early as Dec. 4th. And I was planning Christmas presents to my friends before Thanksgiving.
This is all pretty standard American stuff, but I did all this disregarding the fact that I was raised as a Hindu in an Indian house.
I wholly subscribe to the American idea of Christmas, along with my immigrant parents and little brother. We do dress up and cook for Diwali, every year. But Christmas presents are also the norm, decorating the tree is a major event and Santa came for my little brother for 10 years. We have been willingly sucked into the commercialism and culture of the season, and I’m not terribly sorry.
I used to feel guilty about liking Christmas and felt like I was trying to fit myself into an idea of Christianity that I don’t believe in. I wasn’t sure of what it meant for me to love Christmas, a holiday that wasn’t really mine to celebrate.
But I’ve started thinking of Christmas as a culturally American time, where different kinds of people can come together for many different reasons. To some it may rightfully mean the celebration of the birth of Jesus, but to others like me, it means the mood and actions of all those around me.
There is something about the feeling of the holidays that makes the cold air less biting and puts everyone in a better mood. People smile more, sing more, count their blessings, and give to others. At school, I see Jews, Christians, Hindus, and religiously confused teenagers alike talk about how much they love the atmosphere. It’s cliché, but I think the cliché stems from truth.
I think Christmas can be said to embody America, commercialism and a profit-driven mentality mixed in with charity and good feeling, shared by those of all ethnic backgrounds. It has become a holiday anyone can celebrate, and include or leave out the pieces they wish.
This year, I’ll spend Christmas weekend eating a home-cooked Jewish meal, opening presents, listening to Sinatra and sharing with my Jewish, Chinese, Indian, Filipino, and Christian friends, making it a truly American holiday.