Merry Muslim Christmas

It’s Christmas Eve here in Bangladesh, but if it weren’t for my calendar and my Internet connection, I would have no idea. Makes me laugh about the post I shared last year from Korea titled “Christmas Without Christmas.” Wow. If that was Christmas without Christmas, I don’t know what to call my experience this year.

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Unlike last year, I have avoided listening to Christmas music because I was afraid it would just make me sad. This year, in addition to missing all the lights and decorations and festivities that are synonymous with the holiday season back home, I’m really missing the childlike anticipation I always felt—even as an adult—about waking up Christmas morning and seeing the tree and enjoying a special day with my family.

Luckily, I was able to change my teaching schedule so I’ll be available to Skype with my loved ones on their Christmas, which is really when Christmas is happening for me, anyway.

And, if I do start feeling depressed, I remind myself that I’m relieved I don’t have to deal with all the commercialism associated with the holidays and all the pressure people put on themselves to bake the perfect cookie or give the perfect gift or host the perfect party.

I imagine my students sitting with my family on Christmas morning and seeing all the presents and all the food. Heck, just seeing the house itself would blow their minds!

As I write this, I realize that I have spent so much of my time here feeling lonely and isolated that I have forgotten to be thankful. This Christmas, again, I remind myself that generosity, goodwill and gratitude are the most important aspects of this season to me, and that here in Bangladesh, I have so many opportunities to practice all three.

So on that note, I’m going to listen to The Nutcracker Suite by Duke Ellington and play with the five puppies we have in the house … because nothing says Christmas like The Nutcracker and puppies … at least not in Bangladesh!



UPDATE: After I posted this, we drove around Jessore in search of some holiday lights. The first stop at the Catholic church yielded only a small nativity scene. There was, however, a field full of fireflies next to the church, which made me really happy. (God’s Christmas lights perhaps?) Our second and final stop at the Baptist church delivered a pretty good attempt (see below). Incidentally, when Bangladeshi couples get married, they cover their homes with lights–which put this Christmas display to shame.Christmas Lights Bangladesh

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18 thoughts on “Merry Muslim Christmas

  1. Merry Christmas! Your post recalls the song, “I’ll be home for Christmas” Maybe the author was in Bangladesh when he/she wrote it. You are in our thoughts and hearts as we prepare to celebrate here.

  2. ‘Twas the night before Christmas
    And all through the house
    There was nothing but puppies
    Cuter than a mouse
    We knew they were there
    ‘Cause they yipped loud and clear
    Not to mention the “gifts” that they dropped everywhere!
    From the looks in their eyes
    And their squirms in surprise
    They return the love
    Given them Christmaswise.
    Thus we send it to you
    Our love through and through
    Today on Christmas
    And all the year too.

  3. Miss you so much sweetie!!!! I’m thankful to be your friend…know I’m thinking of you during the holidays oh so far away!

    XOXO dina

  4. The only thing that made me feel a little more cheerful about being in China for Christmas was that it didn’t really feel like Christmas since no one else was celebrating. Weird but true! I think my family had a more difficult time than me.

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