Respecting Our Differences (YEG)

We’re only a few days here before most people take off on vacation for the holidays. I find it to be an interesting time of the year. My family does not celebrate Christmas, so to me, the holidays were always a 2 week vacation from school. You see, my parents are from South Africa, so the whole idea of Christmas was new to them. But my parents embraced it. Just because our beliefs didn’t align, we were still able to take part in all of the other elements of the holidays. My mom would bake cookies for all of my teachers (yes, I was brown-nosing at an early age) and sign them Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas. As I look back on this, I realize that this was an early lesson for me, that people’s beliefs may be different, but that does not mean they are not good people. 

As I got older, it was just like any other day, except everything was closed, there was nothing on TV and all of my friends were busy. If you’re about to tell me that the theatres are open on Christmas Day, thank you. I’d try and keep myself busy, but in the age before smartphones, it was one of the most boring days of the year. I did not even reach out to any of my friends because I did not want to disturb any of their family traditions or take away from any of their family time. It seemed disrespectful to me. 

Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to see the holidays differently. I’ve had families welcome me in to join in on their traditions. I always assumed that family traditions and family time were precious moments and I wanted no part in taking that away. Sure, it has been awkward to be part of another family’s traditions, but that awkwardness pales in comparison to the overwhelming warmth and welcoming I experience. And even if those traditions/beliefs are not be the same as mine, I can get a better understanding of these families, who they are, and what is important to them. 

One of the things I’ve learned, is that the holidays are different for everyone. It’s usually some combination of time with family and religious beliefs. And while I may not have the same beliefs or be related to everyone, it does not mean I cannot partake. In fact, I would encourage everyone to learn and understand other people, beliefs, traditions, etc. I can say that my assumption that it was disrespectful if I took part in another family’s tradition, was wrong. Everyone is different and all too often we make our own assumptions about so many things. We’d be better off if we spent a little more time understanding others. I’m not saying you have to change your beliefs or be in agreement with any of it. But we can all show respect for others and their differences. 

An in that light, Jen, Andrew and I have a huge gift for all of you on Friday. We’ll even let you unwrap it a few days before Christmas!

Find the Good,
Nadim

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