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A Christmas Guide for Mixed Families

Is this your first Christmas as a mixed couple or family? Keep reading for our three tips to perfectly navigate a "mixed" Christmas.

A Christmas Guide for Mixed Families

In my Christian-Muslim family Christmas is BIG! Lots of people, lots of laughter and lots of food. Occasionally, some family drama linked to dietary requirements and prayer duties. Keep reading for our three tips to perfectly navigate Christmas if you are in a mixed relationship/ family!

1. Christmas Service/Mass: to go or not to go?

For non-Christian members of the family going to mass might feel uncomfortable. The first thing to do, especially if this is your first year celebrating a mixed Christmas, is to ask rather than assuming that going to mass will be fine or not. In my family for example, mass feels fine for everyone (to Christians, non-Christians and Atheists). Having an open and honest dialogue is the most important thing because it helps defining the boundaries of what everyone feels comfortable doing or not doing. My mum and I have recently watched a movie on Netflix about a mixed couple; aside from the quite cheap underlying racism, the majority of the “clashes” could have been avoided by talking, asking and checking in! (but more on this movie and on mis-representation will come soon, so stay tuned on MMH).

2. Dietary Requirements (DR)

Make sure that all dietary requirements are met for Christmas lunch/dinner. As for the above, the key advice is to ask, in case you have any doubt (this is true for any kind of DR really, not just for religious ones). Be a little flexible. While I understand that some dishes are typically Christmasy in certain countries, remember that they are only dishes and there is no need to become bitter over choosing what to cook. If it becomes too difficult, you can always opt for a potluck style celebration where everyone brings something they cooked. Lastly, be creative and play with the different rules for a deliciously unorthodox Christmas party.

3. Be ready to see some "eye-rolling"

This is perhaps the most important tip. It doesn’t matter how open-minded a family is, do expect some eye-rolling, lifted eyebrows or some disappointed *coughing*, especially from the older generations. Everyone has their own idea of what Christmas should look like and what should be prioritised; when things are slightly different from the(ir) “norm”, it can be unsettling. For us in mixed relationship/ families this idea of a fixed norm does not make much sense because we are masters in flexibility, in-betweenness and ambiguity, but your extended family is not! So don’t get upset if your grandparents ask “why don’t you eat pork?” for the 20th year in a row or if your aunties on the phone from Egypt remark that you still cannot speak Arabic properly. Instead, race your sibling in who will be able to give the most diplomatic answer and remember that negotiation ability is an important and transferrable skill. Alternatively, you can faint, like Dante.

If this is not your first mixed Christmas, these tips might seem trivial but I hope that reading them has sparked a smile and made you feel less awkward and better represented. Please share with us in the forum any other tip you can give to newly formed mixed couples/ families.

To all the mixed couples/families/people out there, have a beautiful Christmas and always be proud of your mixedness.

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