Like Mohammad Hussain, I never celebrated Christmas with my family growing up because we were raised Muslim and I'm pretty sure my father enjoyed buying all of the discounted Holiday-themed candies on December 26th and onward to have us put up a tree and put gifts underneath it. No, we just starved ourselves for 30 days and then got a bunch of money from family members on Eid.
But after I became a dad and had a family of my own, I decided to break new ground and do something fun for my kids: we'd celebrate Christmas.
This is why it's very easy to identify with Mohammad's Twitter thread about celebrating his first "proper Christmas" with his roommates while under quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic. His observations, as someone who's never celebrated the holiday as a child, is coming entirely from the perspective of a new outsider to the yuletide celebratory phenomenon.
One of the first things he noticed is just how much time is poured into preparing for the holiday. He called the celebration a month-long "part-time job" individuals willingly engage in on their days off in order to uphold their specific traditions. It's a lot more complicated than just putting "up a tree and then [giving] gifts to the family."
He soon realized that there were a lot of sleepless mornings and free days off that were now in possession of jolly Old St. Nic so the holiday can be thoroughly enjoyed.
Putting up lights on weekend mornings, never procrastinating because a tangible deadline hangs over your head at all times - Christmas can be super stressful.
He also noticed that people are also very stringent when it comes to the adherence to their personal Christmas traditions, which is especially important when it comes to specific foods. Substitutes are not allowed and the same thing must be eaten each and every Christmas and they must taste either as good or better as the year before.
There are also very specific gift-buying protocols that must be observed. Sure, buy yourself a gift, but if you think you're going to put it in your own stocking then you've got another thing coming. (Side note: mint chapstick sounds phenomenal right about now.)
He's also learned that gift budget rules are more like guidelines if anything and that the exact gift you want to get someone will always cost a bit more.
He also became privy to the ornament hierarchy and the distinct differences between "filler" ornaments and those that are meant to bedazzle trees for generations to come. After being encouraged to pick his own "long-term" ornament, Mohammed decided upon something that would make him smile: an everything bagel.
Even if he was a bit astonished at the price of the ornament, the fact that it's going to be passed down from generation to generation makes up for it.
One thing that Mohammad did notice is that injecting religion into Christmas is entirely optional, something that seems kind of impossible for Eid.
Personally, I was a five-prayer-a-day Muslim kid growing up and noticed that the mosque was filled with people who only ever went once a year to celebrate the end of Ramadan in a fresh new outfit.
He was a bit flabbergasted about the fact that there was a Christmas menu too, and his biggest takeaway is that the holiday is a ton of work and those who actually check every box off their X-Mas to-do list are a bonafide master of the holidays.