The December holiday season can be overwhelming for those of us not of the Christian faith. The heavy commercialization of Christmas results in an assault of the senses of all things Christmas - from décor to music. 😩 Makes me feel quite grinchy.
Not only are there OTHER December holidays, such as Chanukah/Hankkah and Kwanzaa, there are plenty of people who don't have ANY cultural holidays in December and it's just a month like any others.
I love learning about other holidays and cultures and the festivities of this time of year. I just wish, as always, for as many people as possible to feel seen and validated during this time. All traditions are important.
Progress is happening though! In small ways. We can all have impact if we speak up and take action. I've seen a lot more Hanukkah decoration in stores and during Ramadan last year, I was able to find Eid decorations at my local party city.
* * *
This Month's Tuma's Books Reading Challenge is to read a book that is about or set during a holiday you do not typically celebration in your culture.
Here are 3 diverse holiday books for you to check out:
Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voices, edited by S. K. Ali and Aisha Saeed (Eid | Muslim)
Eid! The short, single syllable word conjures up a variety of feelings and memories for Muslims. Maybe it's waking up to the sound of frying samosas or the comfort of bean pie, maybe it's the pleasure of putting on a new outfit for Eid prayers, or maybe it's the gift giving and the holiday parties, or carnival rides to come that day. Whatever it may be, for those who cherish this day of celebration, the emotional responses may be summed up in another short and sweet word: joy.
A Holly Jolly Diwali by Sonya Lalli (Diwali | Indian/Hindu)
Twenty-nine-year-old Niki Randhawa has always made practical decisions. Despite her love for music and art, she became an analyst for the stability. She's always stuck close to home, in case her family needed her. And she's always dated guys that seem good on paper, rather than the ones who give her butterflies. When she's laid off, Niki realizes that practical hasn't exactly paid off for her. So for the first time ever, she throws caution to the wind and books a last-minute flight for her friend Diya's wedding.
Niki arrives in India just in time to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights, where she meets London musician Sameer Mukherji. Maybe it's the splendor of Mumbai or the magic of the holiday season, but Niki is immediately drawn to Sam. At the wedding, the champagne flows and their flirtatious banter makes it clear that the attraction is mutual.
When Niki and Sam join Diya, her husband and their friends on a group honeymoon, their connection grows deeper. Free-spirited Sam helps Niki get in touch with her passionate and creative side, and with her Indian roots. When she gets a new job offer back home, Niki must decide what she wants out of the next chapter of her life--to cling to the straight and narrow like always, or to take a leap of faith and live the kind of bold life the old Niki never would have dreamed of.
The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer (Hanukkah | Jewish)
Rachel Rubenstein-Goldblatt is a nice Jewish girl with a shameful secret: she loves Christmas. For a decade she's hidden her career as a Christmas romance novelist from her family. Her talent has made her a bestseller even as her chronic illness has always kept the kind of love she writes about out of reach.
But when her diversity-conscious publisher insists she write a Hanukkah romance, her well of inspiration suddenly runs dry. Hanukkah's not magical. It's not merry. It's not Christmas. Desperate not to lose her contract, Rachel's determined to find her muse at the Matzah Ball, a Jewish music celebration on the last night of Hanukkah, even if it means working with her summer camp archenemy--Jacob Greenberg.
Though Rachel and Jacob haven't seen each other since they were kids, their grudge still glows brighter than a menorah. But as they spend more time together, Rachel finds herself drawn to Hanukkah--and Jacob--in a way she never expected. Maybe this holiday of lights will be the spark she needed to set her heart ablaze.
Kwanzaa Angel by Shirley Hailstock (Kwanzaa | African American)
Erin Scott withstood the humiliation of being abandoned at a high school prom by the man of her dreams. Channeling her personal feelings into work, Erin opened a department store which now flourishes and is about to expand. Just as her family gathers for the Kwanzaa celebration, her nemesis returns to town, opening old wounds and throwing her life in to passionate chaos.
Raimi Price regretted his decision almost as soon as he made it, but he couldn’t undo it. Now sixteen years later he’s back, hoping to stay, but reconciling with Erin Scott is a major priority. When he discovers they are both bidding on the same piece of property his romantic plans stall. Then history threatens to repeat itself complicating matters more.
Can these two bridge the gap and find a lasting love?
Mangos and Mistletoes by Adriana Herrera (Christmas | LatinX | Queer)
One is grumpy. One is sunshine. There is only one bed.
Kiskeya Burgos left the tropical beaches of the Dominican Republic with a lot to prove. As a pastry chef on the come up, when she arrives in Scotland, she has one goal in mind: win the Holiday Baking Challenge. Winning would prove to her family, her former boss, and most importantly to herself, that she can make it in the culinary world. Kiskeya will stop at nothing to win, that is if she can keep her eyes on the prize and off her infuriating teammate's perfect lips.
Sully Morales, home cooking hustler, and self-proclaimed baking brujita lands in Scotland on a quest to find her purpose after spending years as her family's caregiver. But now, with her home life back on track, it's time for Sully to get reacquainted with her greatest love, baking. Winning the Holiday Baking Challenge is a no-brainer if she can convince her grumpy AF baking partner that they make a great team both in and out of the kitchen before an unexpected betrayal ends their chance at culinary competition glory.
* * *
Happy Holidays and Warm, Comfy Wintery Vibes to All!