Sharing the celebration of differing holidays [Letter]

My answer to David M. Shea (“There are some who don’t celebrate Christmas,” Dec. 7 Letters):

I highly doubt this paper or any other will undertake the investigative report you are suggesting. Instead, as a non-Christian, I thought I would give you my thoughts on the Christmas holiday season.

While current immigration policies are changing the demographics of this country, we are still for the most part considered a Judeo-Christian society. The neighborhood I grew up reflected this demographic. Our parents had a great idea they wanted us all learn to respect the other religions and traditions by celebrating with each other.

For Christmas, we would trim Christmas trees. I would trim the Christmas tree with my friend next door. His father would exclaim each year how much we had grown by comparing this year’s ornament placements to pictures of the previous year’s decorations.

For Hanukkah, we all took part in lighting a menorah and we received the traditional gifts of candy with the dreidel; the same thing with Easter and Passover and the Jewish High Holy Days.

Schools may have been closed, though in our neighborhood, for most of us, it was still a learning experience.

Since Christmas is not my holiday, when I was in the Air Force, and we stood down for the holidays, I would not put in for leave over Christmas. Instead, I put in for leave over New Year’s. This gave someone else in my shop the opportunity to have Christmas at home.

Up until retirement, I covered the fire station as a volunteer firefighter, once again allowing one of the other volunteers whose holiday it is to take the day. We ran calls and we cooked a holiday dinner for ourselves. In return, if our duty day was New Year’s Eve they stood in for us.

When you sign up for a position in emergency service, it goes with the territory you are going to be on call or on duty on certain holidays.

You adjust your celebration with family around your shift schedule because the job you do is more important than the holiday. Emergencies have no respect for holidays.

Religion is a very private matter to most people. If you want answers to your questions regarding how the Jews, Koreans or Muslims feel during the Christmas holidays. I suggest you visit a temple, a Korean church and mosque. I’m sure the people in those places will be more than happy to answer your questions. In my family, we chose to celebrate along with our Christian friends. It was the way I was raised, and I see no reason to stop.

Fred Klonin

Columbia

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