I have just got back from attending my daughter’s Winter concert. The concert was lovely. The songs were carefully picked and performed well by all of the children.
What stood out was the diversity in all of the classes. There were children singing from different ethnicities and different abilities. This was all about inclusion and the school did it brilliantly.
This is what I love about Canada. For the most part, people are prepared to accept diversity and differences. Probably because the country is built upon immigrants. That is not to say there is no racism or bigotry, for sure there is, but it is not so profound as what we are seeing in the USA and Europe.
Kids learn from a very young age that there are differences in their communities and that this makes us stronger. My daughter’s school has kids attending from all different backgrounds, not just Canadian. This is beautiful.
The Canadian Spirit
Before the Winter concerts (they are not called Christmas in some schools) I attended a halaqa where we wondered how do we approach this time of year? Our kids, like any kids, are attracted to the lights, the decorations and the talk of Santa. Most of us in the halaqa admitted that we actually like the lights and decorations ourselves. So, how do we explain to our children that it is not something we celebrate?
Living in Canada makes it easier than elsewhere I believe. The school concerts are not religious. There are no Christmas carols. Rather, there are songs about snow, snowmen, Santa and Rudolph. Therefore, no message about Jesus (PBUH) being born at this time, is given. This makes everything a lot easier because there is no confusion. Besides, my group of friends and myself, have all taught our kids that we love Jesus (PBUH) in Islam but he is not the son of God.
What about Santa?
So what about Santa? This is a little harder to explain, but I have found, being truthful is the best way to deal with this situation. I have explained to my daughter the story of Santa from long ago. She knows he is not real and will not bring her presents.
I believe honesty is the best policy for dealing with that. What if the kids at school talk about Santa? I have told my daughter not to talk about it. This is for their parents to deal with. If they want to tell their kids, Santa exists, and many in the West do, that it is their business. We are not going to ruin it!
It was surprising for me to realize that quite a lot of Canadians don’t celebrate Christmas anyway. And like many in the UK or USA, they see this as a cultural holiday more than a religious one.
Of course, you do have people celebrating the religious festival, but these numbers are dwindling. For many people today, Christmas holiday is a time for family gatherings and socialization. Even us Muslims are looking forward to the break. It’s a really good chance to enjoy family time as schools finish and husbands will have some days off. Christmas in Canada is really nothing to worry about, thanks to the wide diversity in the Canadian culture.