Growing up, my family celebrated a few holidays. We were never very religious, but celebrated the main Muslim holidays by eating a lot and visiting relatives. The time before the end of the year was special, though, because we got to put up our New Year´s tree. My siblings and I were always excited to get new decorations for our tree and decide which one goes where. Since we didn´t speak English, we had no idea what the "Merry Christmas" writing on those decorations meant.
Times changed and I found myself wanting to celebrate Christmas with others. I converted to Christianity as a teenager, without my family´s approval. At the time I was living with them, and it was difficult for me to be part of any church activities. I wanted to know more about Christmas and why it was celebrated. At that time, Christmas was just a holiday to me where people got presents and ate a lot of food. This picture of Christmas of course came from medias portrayal of it.
I was in search for the true meaning of Christmas. When I learned what Christmas was about, that Jesus is at the centre of it, I realised that this 'TV Christmas' was a secular version of real Christmas - just like our Muslims holidays, which were celebrated without any mention of God. I finally understood why we say: Merry Christmas. Once I understood it, I found it very strange that we were using decorations with those words, even though we considered ourselves Muslim.
After I moved away to go to university I could celebrate Christmas freely. I was free to go to church services and to be with others who shared my belief. I'm now back in my home country celebrating Christmas this year. Here Christmas is a church family holiday. Many of us are the only ones in our families who believe in Jesus as our saviour, so to celebrate His birth we gather together. As a church we try to include everyone in this celebration. Many of us try to invite our families so they can get to know the saviour of the world and the basis of our belief.
I pray that this Christmas will bring many closer to the one who should be celebrated during this time. I pray that people around the world in these unsettled times will come to know Jesus as their Lord. I pray that we as the body of Christ will do our best where we are to tell people around us about the true meaning of Christmas.