29 December 2009

Christmas is for everyone

Yesterday, I read an article "Christmas is for everyone" by Rusdi Mustapha in Malay Mail. It helps me to recall how I spent Chrismas with my children when they were young little kids.

First of all, my children and I are not Christians, but my Filipino maid is a Catholic. Initially, my maid and I will decorate the tree while my children happily helping with the decorative items. As my kids grow older, they help their "sister" decorate the tree; the "sister" has been with us for 12 years.

I have Christmas tree in my house for 3 reasons: 1st To let my maid feel at home and teach my kids to respect other's religion, 2nd The twinkle lights on Christmas tree help to create festival mood in the family, 3rd Decorating Christmas tree is a project lead by the maid and assist by the kids. The maid is a part of the family.

A comment posted to the article "Christmas is for everyone" : ....It reminds me of a story I heard 2weeks ago in Manado. My guide told me a story that the Indonesian PM visited a mosque there and an official made a request for a full grown pine tree, within the mosque to be chopped down, on the account that it is a christian tree! The PM asked when did the old pine tree convert to christianity?

The comment tickle me but also make me ponder : Why must oneself be so narrow minded? Why can't we respect each other? I have a WISH: Let's 2010 be a GOOD year for everyone.

(Article from Malay Mail)
SERI MENANTI: Christmas is for everyone!

Rusdi Mustapha
Monday, December 28th, 2009 11:05:00

ONCE upon a time, almost in the age of enlightenment in this country in the early 90s, I wrote in a newspaper column about roasting turkey for Christmas for friends.

The following week, I received a letter from a Pas Youth leader asking me to repent for I had deviated from the true path of Islam or so he had surmised just from what appeared to be my derring-do attitude for making a roast turkey dinner!

He said as roasting turkey has always been associated with the Christian religion, I, as a Muslim, should stick to “our own” traditional culinary delights (lemang, rendang?).

And that I had succumbed to Christian ideology which he claimed was so, so subtle, like roasting turkeys, and that Muslims would be easily influenced.

I sighed and laughed it off as being one of those quirks in life! This guy from Kelantan had probably never tasted roast turkey with cranberry sauce in his life, and yet he condemned the turkey as being heretic!

Like any other year, this year is no different when it comes to Dec 25; the world, and Malaysians included, celebrate Christmas. Like any other festival, it is celebrated in the true spirit of friendship, brotherhood, love and giving and most of all forgiving! And lots of turkey dinners, yum! And egg-nog, Christmas pudding and sweet potatoes!

Personally for me and my family, Christmas has always been a festival of happiness and a celebration of light.

From those days when we were in Canada and until now in Malaysia, except for this year, we have always had a small pine tree, namely a Douglas fir, in our living room that my wife and I, and our daughter when she was around, decorated.

Christmas in Canada was also fun. I had a lot of good memories, plus the snow AND the brutal wind-chill factor outside, and there will be a lot of presents under the tree for all of us.

Forget the religious connotations being associated with Christmas, this joyous celebration must be celebrated not only by Christians, but by Malaysians of all creed, colour and religion.

During my wandering days around the world, I had spent many Christmases with many groups, such as the most memorable one with a group of gypsies of Thessaloniki in Greece.

Here is the thing, gypsies are not even Christians and yet they find a reason to have fun. In their campsite they will make stew and they will be drinking a peculiar Greek drink called retsina, a type of wine that tastes like pine resin.

It tastes awful but after a while they forget the taste and start to spin and dance.

Come to think of it, I have celebrated Christmas with Ukrainians, Kurdish, Turkish, Indians, Albanians, Croatians, Chinese, Bosnians, Germans, Indonesians, Dutch, Slovaks and many, many more unique tribes of the world, and they all have one thing in common — they all celebrate Christmas with such joy, gusto and happiness!

It is a universal thing.

Did you know that the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat attended Christmas mass with his wife Seha who is a Catholic? In the Middle East, not all Arabs are Muslims and not all Muslims are also Arabs. They celebrate one another's religious celebration as Arabs. Even the sermon is in the Arabic language.

I have a good friend from Sarawak whose multi-religious family lives under one roof. As I know it, Evelyn and her sister Joyce are Christians, and the other three siblings are Muslims; they love one another and no religion can separate them. They live under the true concept of 1Family, no matter what their religion is.

I know I am rambling, but it takes a lot of energy writing this column, knowing three of my most important persons — my wife, my daughter and my grand-daughter — are celebrating Christmas with friends and relatives over in Canada.

For the record, my only granddaughter, she is 10 months old, celebrated her first Christmas on this Planet Water, in Canada with her grandma-uwan, her mummy and her daddy, and her daddy’s relatives and I can only imagine how joyous it must be, and sadly I am not there.

So here goes, Merry Christmas and may God or Allah, bless us all! Especially to my “keepers” and those I dearly love!

Enjoy reading !!


1 comment:

  1. Those narrow-minded religious bigots are everywhere and of course, notwithstanding of that particular one mentioned here.

    What they are at best is to merely express their born-loser trait to demean others as evil and only they are the chosen few to know what is right or wrong.

    Have we NOT the right to choose to be wrong (even) and that we can fumble and tumble in this perpetual learning curve to know what is "right" then?

    Must we tell them their fervent imposition of (their) "right" over (our) "wrong" will eventually makes us more recalcitrant and steadfastly embracing our "right" to their "wrong"? Then again, would we NOT be right to in turn admonish their right as wrong?

    Piss off with those fanatics!!