I wonder what Jesus would put under the Christmas tree. Dates from his native Palestine would do it for me, and perhaps also a beatific scarf or sweater! For others, a newspaper, a book, or a map coded toward self-realization and compassion. Alas, maybe my sweater wouldn’t make the cut after all. 

If he were buying for someone in Morocco, he’d have to translate the card from his native Aramaic into Moroccan Darija, a mix of Arabic, Amazight, and French. To decorate the tree, he’d have to take a taxi to the big box stores on the edge of the city where the capitalist ritual of Christmas appears most clearly: how many people here are really going to buy all those garish decorations? The workers wearing red hats with a limp white pompom on top stare at their phones. 

For dinner, Jesus might sit down to eat a kefta tagine of beef, tomatoes, eggs and cumin, sparing the Christmas ham for believers in other corners. Above all, he’d have to explain why, on this most ordinary of Wednesday’s in December, there was an uprooted tree with gifts underneath it in the middle of a house. And someone else would have to explain to him what some old man with a beard, a red onesie, and a sleigh of reindeer has to do with his birth in a manger. Even us Americans over here would be hard pressed on that charge. 

Blvd Mohammed V in Rabat
Blvd Mohammed V in Rabat

In spite of the 70-degree weather and the absence of Bing Crosby and Mariah Carey, I managed to remind myself throughout the day to be extra generous, kind, and hopeful. And I always feel how an act of generosity momentarily erases the ego, for you see the truth that the happiness of another is intimately bound up with your own, that in fact, they were never separate to begin with. Maybe this is how I would explain our Christmas to Jesus.

Dates and chocolates to Mohammed the grocer and Rachid the parking attendant; a short sitar serenade for my friends and a 40% tip for a plate of beans; they aren’t much, but they’ve helped to make this day sacred.

Alhamdullilah, may we always recall abundance! 

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