Merry Christ - Chanukah-Kwanzaa - mas
When what you believe comes between you and the one you love...
You love the way they look, act, walk, talk and dream. They love all the things that the kids use to tease you about in grade school. His friends are your friends and your friends are her friends and your families couldn't have ordered a better partner from any catalog. So, why is it that around the holidays "you just can't be together"?
Happy...whatever you celebrate to you!!! Is it just me or does anyone else out there miss the good ole' days when people said Merry Christmas? Happy Holidays just doesn't cut it for me. I know, I know, not everyone celebrates Christmas. There are those that celebrate Chanukah or Kwanzaa and those that don't celebrate anything at all. What happens when you and your mate celebrate differently? Well, you know me; I like to step out on a limb every now and again, so with that I'd like to guess that the biggest conflict comes from the "other" members of the family right?
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It would be a lot easier if we were all one universal color, one religion, and one big bore. I fell asleep just thinking about this one. Of course this is not how we think or feel and the reality is that even if everyone in the entire universe were to date interracially, we would still never be all the same anything. So, how do you get through the holidays, that are suppose to be about love, sharing and family, when the in-laws or the "other family" (cause it's never us right?), is hating, being selfish and only thinking about themselves?
Education and inclusion is my solution. It's been my experience that a lot of fear and rejection of people and their faith stem from lack of understanding. First, we must understand the difference in what our partner's beliefs are. Then we alone, attempt to have a discussion with our family to explain how important it is that we make our mate feel welcome and included in family traditions and celebrations. This is not an easy thing to do nor is it one that will be pulled off at 100% the first time around. It requires research, patience and lots of effort on all sides.
It helps if you can rotate family visits. I realize that this becomes difficult when friends and families living miles and some times even time zones apart. As with anything, proper planning goes a long way in a successful get-together. It's really you and your mate's responsibility to make each other feel a part of the extended family. Then there is always the choice to create your own gathering that reflects what you as a couple believe and cherish.
I'd like to think that there are many other families out there, besides my own that would love the opportunity to learn something new about different cultures, traditions and beliefs. It doesn't mean that you're trying to convert your family or even yourself. It simply means that you love someone else completely and enough to try to understand where their beliefs and faith come from.
The best part of having a relationship is the getting to know and growing stage. No matter if you're the same race or religion we all come to the table with differences that need to be understood (not necessarily agreed with), in order to go to the next step in that relationship. How many of us have totally different opinions than our parents? We still love and respect them. I think that is all anyone really wants.
So, what do you think, this year how about putting up seven candles for Kwanzaa over the fireplace, a Chanukah menorah by the window and the nativity scene on the front lawn? Don't forget that including someone else doesn't exclude you. There is something to love in everyone, if you are willing and open to find it.
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