For Nora Matty, Christmas normally means two types of celebrations, that stem from both her Danish homeland and Christian Arab parents. But this year, it will mean something completely different to her….
Being born in Denmark by Arabic parents makes Christmas slightly more different than anyone else’s. With Iraqi Christian parents, it is more a party than a meal with family.
This year I have decided to take a different approach to Christmas. I am headed to New York to visit my best friend and to volunteer at either a homeless shelter or as foster carer. As I grew up, I learned that love isn’t necessarily always shared among family members, rather love should be shared with people who rarely feel it. It is about giving back.
Leaving to New York is going to be different. I learned that there are many kids in a big city like New York who don’t have any family members to celebrate with. I actually want to be there not just one time but for them as a contact person in the future. Volunteering is not about working for free, is about inspiring the next generation to become great so humanity can stand together. Any child who has given up deserves to be led into the right direction.
I will miss Christmas in Denmark, the smell of my mother’s food, the laughs that I have with my siblings and the family games that we play. I shall miss the Danish Christmas Eve, where everyone gets to open their presents and enjoy duck or roasted pork with cabbage. They decorate the Christmas tree and sing carols dancing around the tree.
Christian Arabs celebrate Christmas on the actual day. You wake up and head to church as a starter, meet and greet everyone then go home to get ready for a huge Christmas Party, where the whole Christian community attend.
Coming from an Arabic family, Christmas is a lot about decorating and getting presents. Even though we go to church every year, it is more about just spending time with family and expensive presents.
Because I am blessed to have two cultures for the holidays, I wanted to pass on the spirit. Unfortunately, many kids in the city are lost as soon as they turn 18 and leave the foster care. This has got to change. Even if celebrating one Christmas with them might not change, it perhaps will give them an idea of what it could be for them if they focused on what they have rather than what they don’t-
As much as my Mother hates that I won’t be with them for Christmas this year, I am satisfied with the fact that I will do something meaningful to someone who might not have had a nice Christmas for a while.
In my 24 years of living, I have learned that Christmas to me is not about receiving. It’s about giving back.