I used it when I wrote this article for IslamOnline.
The main gist of the article was about the grief process and the loneliness experienced by some reverts to Islam around the non-Muslim holidays such as Christmas. And how, for various reasons, our new brothers and sisters in Islam somehow do not replace the family and warmth many of us have lost by abandoning our faiths to become Muslims.
In the article, I stated:
"The single most difficult part of the grief process was, and continues to be, non-Muslim holidays. Not only the Christian and Jewish holidays, but also the secular ones: New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving, anniversaries, birthdays, and my favorite of them all, April Fool's Day!"
I have crossed over a threshold since that article was written. I no longer miss the non-Muslim holidays. Alhamdulillah!
I'm not sure exactly when it happened. But it came together for me tonight while I was reading a blog post by a Jewish blogger friend of mine named Bar Kochba. He has a few blogs but the post that caught my eye tonight was at his The Truth About Moshiach blog. The post title is Not Afraid to Be Unique.
Bar Kochba references an article in the online edition of The Jerusalem Post by Matthew Wagner titled, "Santa Claus and Judah Macabee Join Forces in TA 'End of Year' Fair." There is an interesting observation noted in Wagner's article by the owner of the Israeli Marzipan Museum:
Tamir Peled, the owner of the Marzipan Museum, whose products are under the kashrut supervision of the Lower Galilee Rabbinate, said that this Christmas there has been a sharp rise in demand from Jewish Israelis for marzipan in Christmas shapes, such as Santa Claus.
"In the past all our requests were for Jewish symbols like Magen David, shofars, apples in honey and the tablets of the Ten Commandments," said Peled. "But recently Israelis who have lived abroad or who are influenced by American TV want to celebrate Christmas."
"So far we have not gotten any orders to make marzipan crosses. But maybe that will happen, too."
Peled said that Israelis want to celebrate Christmas because they do not want to feel culturally isolated from the rest of the world.
"Celebrating only Hanukka set us apart, makes us different. People don't want to feel that way. They want to be part of world," she said.
Somehow, this all reminded me of my childhood. My mother was Catholic and my father was Jewish. We celebrated the religious traditions of both faiths in our household. I guess my parents thought that they could maintain an interfaith home.
For my Jewish grandmother, it was different. I remember asking her why she didn't have a tree in her house at Christmas. She told me it was because she was Jewish and that Christmas trees were for Christians. "That's what they do," she told me. "We're different." It was that simple. Religiously, my grandmother didn't want to be "part of the world." She didn't want to fit in. She wanted only to be Jewish. She was unique.
Unfortunately, I didn't experience that personal acceptance at that time in my life. I truly feel it was due to being raised in a home where there was no true religious commitment to one faith. Maybe adults can get with the concept of tolerance and an interfaith atmosphere, but I believe that children need an identity. Children need to know who they are. As a child, I KNEW that my mother was Catholic. And I KNEW that my father was Jewish. But I didn't know who I was. Once my father started to take me to the synagogue, it got a little better. I started to identify as being Jewish. But there was always the "other side" of my family. Us and Them.
My parents divorced when I was 11 years old. We moved to another state where my mother's people lived. I was separated from my father and my Jewish family. My mother put me in a Catholic school and I was raised as a Catholic until I was an older teenager and of the age where I could embrace Judaism again. But when I was old enough to marry, I didn't marry Jewish man. Looking back, I always practiced my religion alone. Yes, with others in the synagogues and temples, but still alone. Everyone else had Jewish family. Except me.
I found Islam in 1998 and I am now a Muslim. I identify as being Jewish in ethnicity only. Like I said, I don't know exactly when it happened, but I feel that I have resolved my grief process. I feel fully Muslim! I have no desire to religiously or culturally be part of the non-Muslim world.
I am unique. Like my grandmother was.
I have a Muslim husband, Alhamdulillah, and am not alone in my faith.
I don't miss Christmas or any other non-Muslim holiday anymore. I now look forward to the Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha holidays.
I know that new Muslims and even some not-so-new reverts to Islam still experience problems in this area. I say dua that they too will cross the treshhold as I have and become totally integrated into the Muslim ummah/Ameen!