It's officially the holiday season and many of us have been scrambling around finding last minute Christmas presents to give to our loved ones. Christmas has all sorts of meaning to it, but I don't think I've really found one for myself. I never knew what it truly meant to celebrate Christmas growing up because, as a Muslim individual who doesn't religiously celebrate the holiday in the first place, it was just another day for me.

I was told for as long as I can remember that we don't celebrate the holiday so there's no point in participating in all the cultural stuff either. I never really bought presents for my friends or family nor decorate the house, a tree, or participate in any of the other things people usually do during this time.

Let's back track a little to childhood version Maria who was in her first grade class. It was December time, a few days before our school's winter break, and many of my classmates were pumped and ready for Christmas. At that point, I never really knew what Christmas was even all about but I knew that it was considered a big deal to a majority of my class.

The one thing I specifically remember was the big mention of the infamous Santa Clause and how everyone in my class can't wait to see what he gets them this year. Again, as someone who was well aware of everything related to Christmas and how I don't celebrate, Santa Clause was one of those things I knew from the very beginning was, in fact, not real. My classmates would ask me if I was excited for the gifts I was going to get and if there was anything in particular, I really wanted from Santa. I knew they were clinging onto this false hope that this man who's going to give them great presents if they were nice this year actually exists. So I would simply smile and pretend like he existed and humor everyone else.

As I got older, and when everyone stopped believing in Santa, I still never really saw what's so special about the season. Of course, from a religious perspective, I couldn't relate at all. But what makes gift giving so special and why are people saving the best gifts for Christmas?

To keep this short and simple, I think I've finally figured out what it means to celebrate Christmas in my own way. I'm well into my third year of college now and I'm somehow found a handful of people who genuinely care about and love me. This year we all decided to do a Christmas gift exchange and, for once in my life, I was actually excited about buying presents for people. Isn't that weird? I was actually excited about buying presents, wrapping them in cute Christmas wrapping paper, and giving it to my friends to open.

Now, after this small journey of self-discovery, I realize now that Christmas means I can treat my friends during a bustling season. It means I can buy things for the people I love and see them be happy. I also means I can get together with the people I love and celebrate just being together, not necessarily a specific holiday.

So thus, everyone, I hope you all find what this season means to you too and I hope it's a great holiday!