What Easter and Other Holidays Mean to a Family of Immigrants

Today my father sent me this picture captioned, “Winner.”

 

Every Easter Sunday, my parents hide colorful, empty plastic eggs around the house, and my siblings and I collect them. For some of us, it’s a tradition for nostalgia (and because my baby brother demands it), but for my baby brother, it’s a tradition in the making. After we finish collecting, count our eggs, and inevitably donate good portions of them to the youngest child, my mom gives us candy and trinkets from CVS. We eat, mess around, and that’s where it ends.

I’ve never known an Easter Sunday in church or around the table with family. I’ve seen glimpses of that in my neighbors’ homes, in the green soundlessness of Georgia, where everyone I ever knew would tell me to go to church. I’ve known being told I was going to go to hell because I didn’t.

I’ve also known being scared – to not fit in and be left out – because other kids made their holidays sound so fun. I’ve known my parents trying to adapt, spending their first Halloween in America bombarded by children, and so panicked that my mom started giving out dollar bills. And while we are spiritual, my parents have moved from Hinduism, to something in the middle of it, and to nothing. And while I was a child, my lamentations of not attending church were dismissed by my parents.

I’m glad they were. It was a form of laziness on my parents’ part, but also a form of rebellion. Why conform? Why conform, even now? We are not religious, but with the Christianity and whiteness shoved down our throats, we’ve adapted to adopt Easter and Christmas into our agendas. We’ve adapted to appreciate both, appreciating the meaning of them, but not conforming.

We celebrate Christmas, trying to please my baby brother, with a tree, ornaments, decorations, and tons and tons of gifts.

 

 

And while everything shuts down on Christmas morning, our own Hindu holidays are ignored, despite there having been over three million Indians in the U.S. in 2012. The number has grown. Other non-Christian religious groups face the same issues, being allowed to excuse themselves for certain holidays, but never being considered important enough to be recognized.

We celebrate Christmas because we are used to it and because we enjoy it, and sadly also because we don’t necessarily have the privilege to celebrate our own holidays. But, that’s an article for another day.

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