I first wrote this article on December 25, 2019. I want to republish it again this year to wish happy holidays to my beloved friend who I mention in the article, and a happy holidays to everyone around the world. God Bless.
I grew up in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, which is a society of multiple cultures. We have many tribes, races, and ethnicities. You can find both Muslims and Christians around you. Your neighbor could be black or brown, liberal or conservative. Schools also have a diversity of colors. Despite all these differences, we all speak the same language, which is Arabic—just with slightly different accents.
I remember my close friend in elementary school was from the southern part of the country, and for illogical reasons, there had been an awful war between the north and the south. That war forced tens of thousands of people to move from the south to the north in search of a better life and refuge. This long war was so violent it damaged the land in the south so that it wasn’t even safe to live on.
After the two parties entered into a peace agreement, the beloved south separated from the north and became a new country. People from the south chose to separate from the north because of politics. We can’t blame them; we have to respect their choices, but still, blood can’t be water.
Siblings in the same household can fight, quarrel, and argue, but after everything, they are still siblings. You can go to the court to change your name, but you cannot change your roots.
My friend and I used to spend a lot of time together both at school and after school. Today on Christmas eve, I am missing her more than ever.
I come from a traditional Muslim family. By the way, most of the people from the north were Muslim, whereas most of the people from the south were Christian. My friend by contrast was Christian. Her family used to celebrate Christmas with so much zeal. They had special traditions on Christmas. Making special delicious foods and singing beautiful songs were a part of the celebration. The thing about Christmas she was most excited about was receiving a gift from her dad.
When I came to the United States, I was introduced to a whole new side of Christmas. Receiving gifts from Santa Claus—this was very exciting for me. This inspired me to write my first ever story, “The Night Maryam Met Santa Claus – Part 1 – True News,” which is about the experience of receiving gifts from Santa Claus.
So many years have passed since I last saw my friend, but I still think about her every Christmas Eve. I wonder if she has returned to the south. If so, is she okay because the news says life there is not good and people are still suffering?
All of the people from the south and north face difficulties. I left my country a long time ago. And after staying in another country, I have finally settled down in America. Yet, despite the separation and the long distance, I still cannot erase the memories we have. Whether we live in the country or not, those of us from Sudan still reminisce about that time because our memories are stronger than us. We can’t simply say “I won’t remember this or that” because memories stick in our minds, and there is no way to delete them.
Christmas was a wonderful time for all of the people in my country. Although most people in the north were Muslim, we would go to concerts, celebrate, enjoy, and have fun during the Christmas holiday. It wasn’t just a holiday for the Christians; it was a time to enjoy, to reunite with family, and to thank God for all of his blessings. That’s what I loved about their celebrations.
I remember my friend had a huge picture of beloved Mary, the mother of Jesus, in her house. Mother Mary has a unique story. She is a role model for every woman on this earth. She is an example of purity, and every woman should look towards Mary and follow in her footsteps.
I don’t know if my lovely friend can read my words or not, but I would still like to wish her and everyone around the world Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and Happy Hanukkah.