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As many Americans deck the halls, others find their place within a season counter to their culture


The Parthenon

Iram Kingson

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Iram Kingson doesn’t celebrate Christmas. She and her family don’t exchange gifts or decorate a tree. She may gather with family friends on Thanksgiving and reflect on what she is thankful for, but that doesn’t mean she and her family celebrate it in the same way as most Americans. (Her parents believe it’s a Christian holiday, but Kingson is halfway convinced her mom just doesn’t know how to cook turkey.) In her culture, New Year’s isn’t celebrated Jan. 1 because they have a different, lunar based calendar. The holiday season can be an uncomfortable time for her, where she doesn’t quite feel like she fits in. But she doesn’t want anyone to feel bad for her, either. As a Muslim Pakistani-American woman, Kingson’s life is just a little different than those of many other sophomores in college, but she still enjoys holidays and partakes in fun and exciting traditions just the same.

“I guess you do feel kind of left out because everyone is getting together and celebrating,” Kingson said. “Since around this time when everyone is doing Christmas stuff, my family takes it as an opportunity to visit back home in Pakistan. Since we have all those days off it’s a good opportunity, and it just makes us feel more at home because it is a Muslim majority country; they’re not celebrating Christmas there. We don’t feel left out.”

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. That’s a motto Kingson has lived by for a long time. She said she has grown accustomed to American holiday traditions, and she tries her best to fit in, but it can still be awkward. Since she arrived at Marshall University, however, she feels less pressure to pretend to enjoy these holiday customs, but she said she is not immune to the Christmas spirit.

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