Here is a very interesting and supportive message from Solace.
XMAS AND NEW YEAR SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR REVERTS!
on Saturday, 15 December 2012. Posted in New Muslims
This time is a very difficult time for reverts regardless of whether they have been Muslim for 1 week or 15 years! SOLACE acknowledges and understands that it is at this time of the year that many sisters feel lonely and a deep sense of possibly family loss. SOLACE has sought the advice of a few revert sisters and we would like to share some tips for surviving the Xmas and New Year season.
PLEASE FORWARD THIS EMAIL TO AS MANY REVERTS THAT YOU KNOW.
* Remember you have been on a spiritual journey which they haven't shared. Therefore changes which come from the heart for the revert, such as no longer celebrating non Muslim festivals, are shocking to a family who usually just see the do's and don'ts of Islam, and not the spiritual side. It's important to be sensitive to the family and as open as possible. Share with them your reasons for the changes in your approach, and perhaps warn them before these changes happen.
* Give gifts to your relatives at both Eids, just as they want to give your family gifts at both birthdays and Christmas. In this way all the family, especially the children, don't miss out and everyone can learn from each other. You can always save the gifts for Eid if you prefer, just as they may save your gifts for Christmas! Alternatively, ask them to buy the children winter presents at the beginning or middle of December but not near the day itself.
* Remember to call them on the days around Christmas - they'll be missing you, and by spending time asking them about their day, you are showing an interest in their lives, just as you want them to show an interest in yours. Be open to chatting about their preparations and plans so they don't feel you've changed beyond all recognition, but just be gentle and firm in your own beliefs. At the end of the day, you can't just pretend its not happening.
* If you don't want to be with family over Christmas, try to visit them at some point earlier or later on in December. If you want to visit on the day, don't participate in the Christmas lunch and giving of presents, but make it in the evening after everything is over. This may keep both yourselves and your family happy, whilst standing clear of the ritual Christmas activities. And during the time you do spend with them inside the house, try to look good! They need to see that although their daughter covers herself fully, she can still take pride in her appearance. Take pretty clothes when you go to visit, wear a coloured scarf if you normally wear black, etc. It can really make a difference to them.
* If you're struggling yourself with feelings of emptiness, being apart on the day when all the family used to be together, make alternative plans. Keep busy during these times. Utilise the events that often go on in the mosques such as special talks at this time of year. Have a day out, as the roads are generally clear, and parking is free. Just make sure that parks etc are open, otherwise the children may end up disappointed. Visit a large mosque in a city some distance away that you wouldn't usually get to visit, or go natural - beaches and forests are always open!
* If you decide to stay at home, have a family Halaqa or invite other sisters round, especially the revert sisters you know - and take time together to study about Prophet Isa (a.s) in detail, developing a love and renewed understanding of his life as a Prophet. Go back to the Qur'an and Sunnah, and teach the children that Islam stands out as the One true religion, and is something to be proud of. Finally, spend more time on your prayer mat, praying for your non-Muslim family to come to Islam.
* If you're still a part of their family time in some small way, without celebrating Christmas itself, then maybe your family will feel more interested in joining you on one of your Eid days, thereby opening up Islam in a new way to them. So without overstepping the boundaries of Islam, aim to see your gentle and generous approach at their time of year as a means of Daw'ah.