We are a two-faith family. I was raised in Sanatan Dharma (eternal dharma, the natural way to live, also called Hinduism), and my husband was raised in the Catholic faith. My sense or understanding of Being is deeply rooted in Sanatan Dharma, passed down to me by my parents, my family, my ancestors and my community.
As immigrants, my parents celebrated Christmas with a decorated tree, leaving cookies and milk for Santa Claus and going to bed early for his grand arrival. My brother and I woke up early in the morning, running to the tree to see what Santa had left us, jumping up and down with glee because we had found Santa’s gift. That feeling of joy and the laughter and giggles that came with it still resides in my heart. I remember opening up these little gifts, slippers, clothing and maybe a small toy. It was simple. The feeling of love and joy was magical and priceless.
Years later, I asked my parents why we celebrated this Christian holiday. With a spark in his eye, my father would say, “we love the story of Christmas, baby Jesus who came to earth to show and teach us forgiveness and love.” To add to this, my father would say, “why not celebrate a holiday that brings happiness and love to my children?” I thought this was very fitting for our family as it complemented our way of living.
Today, with my family, we love to celebrate and observe all interfaith holidays and festivals. Name it, we will be there to celebrate and, of course, to eat and enjoy the delicious food.
After a year of love, death, transformations and a December trip to India, we returned home on Dec 22nd. We had made no Christmas preparations. With her grandmother visiting, there was no time for holiday baking, so we bought cookies and sweets from local bakeries. We created a simple holiday menu and spent the last three days madly rushed in the blistering cold as a winter storm swept in.
The morning of Christmas eve, amid our frantic planning, our 10-year-old daughter came to us and shared that she needed to go to the mall and buy us Christmas gifts. The night before, she had created a questionnaire to find out what we wished for. Even though it was extremely last minute, I decided to listen to her and help her with her wish. I was not about to break her little compassionate heart.
We all struck a deal. Her papa and I would finish with Christmas errands, and she and her grandmother would hit the mall for a two-hour shopping spree. My daughter, using her grandmama’s cell phone, would call me up asking for pant sizes or other alternatives because, based on her questionnaire, she couldn’t find all the items. I have to admit, I was proud of us as parents. I observed a little being working on creating a happy Christmas; her intentions and energy were pure love. I suggested she create coupons as a gift in case she couldn’t find the right presents. We would love to have an experience with her, which is the ultimate gift.
Back at home with our last min shopping, the next thing was to put up the Christmas tree. Our first Christmas in our new home, and we are still settling in, which means not everything is accessible. Cue dramatic music.
We found the tree but not the ornaments. Oh well, we all agreed the tree was going up regardless. There stood our bare, pre-lit Christmas tree. Looking at one another, we said, “let’s create our decorations.” Our daughter gathered paper and scissors to make snowflakes. I had a couple of Christmas-like ornaments, a soft fuzzy bird and angel wind chimes, placed on the tree. My husband discovered a bag of Mardi Gras beaded necklaces while searching for Christmas ornaments. Our tree looked beautiful, bringing us love, joy, and Christmas spirit.
All this came together beautifully, with our Beings creating this experience rather than lamenting what we didn’t have. We found and experienced love and joy. We beautifully met our goal to be together, celebrating our first Christmas in our new home.