Growing up, my Muslim family never celebrated Christmas. This year I am not going home, because pandemic, so my roommates are teaching me how to have my first proper Christmas.

I am approaching this with anthropological precision.

Here are a few observations.
Observation 1: Christmas is a part time job that you have from mid-November to the end of December.

From the outside looking in, Christmas always seemed pretty simple. I always thought you put up a tree and then gave gifts to family. This is a lie.
Do you want to sleep in on a Saturday? Too bad. Go put up some lights inside the house.

Oh you want to sleep in on Sunday? Too bad. Go put up some lights outside the house.

Next weekend? Nope. Every free moment you have will be spent agonizing over the gifts you must buy.
Observation 2: People have very strong feelings about their Christmas traditions.

If someone is insisting that *certain food* is what you have to eat Christmas morning, because that's their family tradition, DO NOT SUGGEST ALTERNATIVES. They will stab you in the neck.
Observation 3: You can buy yourself a gift but you can't stuff your own stocking.

I don't understand this one but I told my roommate I bought stuff for my stocking and they said that's not a thing.

I don't care. I bought myself mint chapstick and I will fake surprise.
Observation 4: Your gift budget does not matter.

You can set this budget as high as you want but the perfect gift will always be $10 too expensive. There is no winning. Just give up.
Observation 5: There are two streams of Christmas ornaments. The "fillers" and the "keepers".

The fillers are the generic ones. The keepers are meant to be more special and unique. This second stream is stored in your family's reliquary to be one day passed on to the children.
My roommates encouraged me to buy my own keeper ornament. They told me to find something that made me smile and that was special to me. I bought this one and I am very happy. It is an everything bagel.

That cost me $15.99. That's more than three everything bagels. I am furious. For what it cost, you best believe that I am insisting that it be passed on to my great grandchildren. If they break it I will haunt them.
Observation 7: The religious aspect of Christmas is optional.

I really like this one. If I was to suggest having a secular Ramadan to my mother she would have a heart attack. I will however be trying to get my family to do a Secret Santa for Eid. The name's being workshopped.
Observation 8: You need a "menu".

Yeah... This one is where they lost me. Last Christmas my family ordered Popeyes and watched a movie. My roommate has an entire menu with wine pairings and desserts planned.
To wrap things up I want to applaud longtime Christmas celebrators. This is a lot of work and very tiring.

I will say I am having a very pleasant time. I am learning that I enjoy Christmas music and gift purchasing. I am also learning that I do not enjoy peppermint.
Update: Well this has blown up! Thank you all for the kind messages. Many families are having to deal with a very different holiday season. Please consider supporting these charities:

Milton Halal Food Bank:…

Parkdale Food Centre:
I gave $50! If you are in a position to donate and you did, share a screenshot! 🎄✨

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