by Ruth Riddle:
President Trump is a contemporary of the Baby Boom generation, of which I am one. Our demographic understands the formative decades of the 50s and 60s, which molded our president and us. We remember the Summer of Love in San Francisco (1967) and the era of fake Christmas trees, with the first manufactured in Chicago in 1958. This year (2017) is the year of Merry Christmas, not Happy Holidays. Yet most Christians, and I used to be one, acknowledge and support those who celebrate the other December holidays. Here are a few:
Ashura. It is the 10th day of the first month on the Islamic calendar. Sunnis, the largest group of Muslims, remember that the Prophet Muhammad fasted in solidarity with Jews who were observing Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. Shiites recall the death of Muhammad’s grandson in battle, an event that led to their differences with the Sunnis.
Bodhi_Day. Buddhists recall that Siddhartha Gautama vowed to sit under a tree in what is now Bodhgaya, India, and not to rise until he was enlightened. The title Buddha means “awakened one.”
The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Observed by Catholics, especially those of Hispanic descent. The story of Guadalupe recounts a 16th-century apparition of Mary to Juan Diego, a poor Indian, on a hillside near what is now Mexico City.
Hanukkah. This Jewish festival begins at sunset and continues for seven more nights. It is a remembrance of an effort to restore the Temple in Jerusalem after a period of desecration. Faithful Jews found only enough oil to light the temple lamp for one day, but the flame burned for eight. Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner celebrate Hanukkah.
Winter Solstice. The shortest day in the Northern Hemisphere. Juul, a pre-Christian festival observed in Scandinavia, featured fires lit to symbolize the heat, light and life-giving properties of the returning sun. Wiccans and other pagan groups celebrate Yule.
Christmas. This holiday has been observed by Christians since the Middle Ages as the birth of Jesus. Some Orthodox Christians follow a different calendar, and Christmas may fall on a different date. President Trump and the majority of Americans celebrate this holiday, along with many others throughout the world.
Kwanzaa. This is a weeklong, modern African-American and pan-African celebration of family, community and culture. For some people who keep Kwanzaa, the festival has spiritual overtones in its emphasis on imani, Swahili for “faith.”
As a child, like our president, I celebrated Christmas. It was magical. Presents, hot chocolate, a big dinner, building snowmen (not snow people) and vacation from school – these are my memories. While in college, I shed my childhood traditions and opted for a secular life, but I am comforted by our current president and his allegiance to America, the country he loves and which allowed him to thrive.
I no longer believe in Santa or a virgin birth, but I believe in our president, capitalism and our republic. I do not have to adhere to any religion or credo. I am able to be me, love our country and celebrate whatever holidays I choose.