CAIRO - Preparing Christmas meals for Omega Baptist Church, Kanita Nelson, who is Christian, found help from her Muslim son and granddaughter who used the charity work as a base to connect their multi-faith family.
This is my family, Kanita Nelson, a retired registered nurse, who shares a home in Dayton with her son and granddaughter, told Springfield News Sun.
Converting to Islam 21 years ago, Aasim Nelson said his mother respected his decision, and was pleased that he sought answers from Allah.
Participating in the green bean duty at his mother's church, Aasim said his faith has never interfered with his participation in Christian holidays celebrated by his family.
His 8-year-old daughter, Hasna Nelson, also helped her grandmother in preparing beans for the 103 Christmas meals Omega Baptist Church members plan to deliver to needy families.
There is so much common ground and so few differences, the 46-year-old Aasim said.
She asked questions. She attended some of our functions. With that, she discovered some of the common ground, the father of another 4-year-old son added.
Sharing bonds of belief, the Nelson family was an example of multi-faith families which represents 27% of American families, according to a study by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life.
The 2008 study is based on interviews with more than 35,000 American adults.
Sandra Yocum, chair of religious studies at the University of Dayton, said the number of interfaith families has increased dramatically over the last 30 years due to increased interaction between people of various religions, ease of travel and the media.
With such unions becoming common in the US, Yocum said that multifaith families should have a sense of curiosity about the other's faith and try to gain an understanding of it.
Christmas is the main festival on the Christian calendar. Its celebrations reach its peak at 12:00 PM on December 24 of every year.
Though there are no official estimates, the US is home to an estimated Muslim minority of six to eight million.
Muslims believe in Jesus as one of the great Prophets of God and that he is the son of Mary but not the Son of God. He was conceived and born miraculously.
In the Noble Qur'an, Jesus is called "Isa". He is also known as Al-Masih (the Christ) and Ibn Maryam (Son of Mary).
Working as a counselor at a homeless shelter, Kanita's son shared his mother's belief in the importance of service to others and God.
If people focus their lives on God, they will walk as upright people no matter what our backgrounds are, she said.
The 64-year-old grandmother has tried to read the Qur'an and questioned her son about things she did not understand.
Usually, she plays an audio version of the Quran for her granddaughter because she knows Hasna likes it.
The grandmother confirmed she was not urged to hide her own religious beliefs from the child.
She (Hasna) knows I walk around the house praising the Lord, Kanita Nelson said.
As the grandmother does not give her son's children Christmas gifts, she does not support commercialization of Christmas anyway.
As far as I am concerned, every day is a day that the Lord has made, she said.
Christmas is manmade anyway with all the bling bling, she added
Working to instill religious values in his young kids, Aasim credits his mother for giving him a religious base.
She kept my sister and I God-centered and that is something that I appreciate, he said.