*This post was edited for clarity.*
dun Dun daaaaaa DUN!!!!
(in my head, there is theme music to this post.)
A few weeks before Thanksgiving, I discovered through a FB post that some stores were planning on opening Thanksgiving Eve or being open all day on Thanksgiving. When I learned about this, I had several thoughts immediately…and then as a cooked this bit of information I had a bunch of more thoughts.
When I first learned about the shops being open on Thanksgiving, my first thought was – Great! Now the people who don’t celebrate the holiday won’t be lost, wondering what they will do all day long. They could work, or get some errands done that they can’t get done because of school or other commitments. My first reaction was globally minded. I thought that the shops were opening so they could follow a more global approach to their business. Not everyone celebrates this, so why should we close? I tried to bring this up in conversation on the FB post, but the respondents were very emotionally invested in their anger and not feeling the open dialogue I wanted to have. So, I left. And went and had a conversation with Magda, from AskMoxie.
I love it when we can talk things through like this. I have issues with places being closed for some civic holidays and not others. I also have issues with places being closed for Christian holidays and not closed for other religious holidays (whether it be Muslim, Jewish…etc) I hate that I have to weigh the pros and cons of pulling my child out of school for a religious holiday that isn’t on the official school calander. My husband has to weighs the pros and cons of taking time off of work for his religious holiday. Business don’t close for EID. Schools don’t close for EID. Banks are not closed on EID. The mail still is delivered on EID. Life goes on for the rest of society on EID. Why shouldn’t it be the same for Thanksgiving? or Easter?
I have no grand solution. I was just feeling frustrated and I needed to be heard. I needed to say stuff and Magda was there to listen and argue my points back at me about how having every single holiday off wasn’t possible because we’d never get anything done. Thats true. But the way holidays are dealt with should be more fair. More even.
I remember back in the stone ages when I was a wee one that the entire city shut down on EVERY holiday. Every One. Veterans Day. Memorial Day. Good Friday. New Years Day. 4th of July. Easter. Christmas. Thanksgiving. (and the few I forgot to mention.) I remembered loving how quiet the city got because everyone was inside, spending time with their families. Then I got older and my cousins routinely had to work on Christmas Day. Then there was that one year I worked Easter. We had exactly 1 customer all day, but I worked.
Then I remember being aggravated that the University didn’t shut down when I thought it should.
Then I got used to going to school and working when a lot of people were spending time with their families.
I was working on the last Christmas Eve my Grandmother was alive. I missed that time with her.
The first 5 or so years of Mr. Fox’s life, Khaled didn’t take off time for Eid. It was a regular day for him after he attended the Eid prayer by himself.
On Eid, we don’t have family** to spend time with and celebrate the holiday. I wish there was a way to get that quietness in the city for everyone’s holidays. So everyone would feel like their celebration is just as important.
That same day, Magda published a workbook about Getting the Christmas that works for You and Your Family.
As you know, I struggle with finding balance in all of the holidays we celebrate. I didn’t grow up celebrating Eid, so every year it is a work in progress. I’ve switched up how we celebrate Easter and Christmas, taking away the strong religious emphasis and putting more value on spending time together, and the fantasy aspects of the celebrations. For me, there is still a very heavy emphasis on Christmas because it was my grandmother’s favorite holiday, and for many years it was my mothers. It was the biggest deal, and the one with the most traditions.
I have had the hardest time scaling Christmas back. So much of what I do during this holiday season is tied with my love and memories of the two most influential women in my life. Negating any part of this holiday is like erasing a tie to them.
I bought Getting the Christmas workbook because I needed to find a way to scale back Christmas in a way that still honors the important traditions that hold the most memories for me, while removing the stuff that we really don’t need to be doing. While working through the questions, I dug in and reflected…I was brutally honest…and I cried. At one point I had to stop because I was scared of taking the next step.
Then I had some clear cut ways of making Christmas more like the ways we celebrate Eid. I took those ideas to Khaled, and we are going to try them out. So far, I’m really comfortable with what we’ve decided to do for The Holidays this year. I’ll most likely be talking about it all here, so I thought you might like to know how I got there.
You can get the Christmas Workbook over on Christmased.com. I’m probably going to re-do this workbook for every holiday now so I can make the Memorial Day celebration that Works for Me and My Family. Instead of what we currently do – nothing.
Take a look, let me know what you think. Share this with anyone you can think of who would benefit. Be gentle with yourself.
**Muslim family. We have Christian family to celebrate with, but we’ve not been celebrating Eid with them.
It has been a while hasn’t it?
The last two weeks, I was prepping for The Southview Winter Art and Craft Show.
I have only participated in a venue like this once before and it was quite a bit smaller. I learned quite a bit about myself and my product offering. I am excited that one customer took a cuff bracelet and married it with the shahada necklace and designed something quite special. I can’t wait to show you when its finished.
The main entry and check-in for the event. Stunning entrance.
Regognize Wrapunzel here? I waited at her booth two different times to meet her, but she was slammed! They were wrapping tichels and selling scarves like crazy, PLUS there was a photographer stationed right at her booth.
Stunning models and living mannequins.
There were several fashion shows going on throughout the day. When were finally able to catch one, it was amazing. I hope next year they will have things running more on time. I would have loved to see all of the designers.
After the last time I updated you on what was happening with the Hasbro letter, I moved on. I was making Hajj Day outfits, I was celebrating Eid ul Adha with my family and I was celebrating my Brass Crescent Award.
In the midst of all that was happening, Hasbro kept responding. I have moved on, but I thought that you might be wondering if all that letter writing was worth it. So, here is what else they had to say in response.
Then, a few days afterwards, a package arrived in the mail via UPS. I set it aside and didn’t open it for a week, because I had really mixed feelings about accepting a toy from the company. When I finally decided that it wouldn’t accomplish much by returning the toy, and if the toy was of acceptable nature I would donate it to the mosque, I opened the box. This is what was inside.
Converting to a new religion is really difficult. We are carrying so much baggage that no one born into the religion will ever understand, even the “born-again” Muslims (for a lack of better wording). They think they do, they think they have all the answers, they think they are helping us, but honestly, they will never get us and they are doing more harm than good. You really have to surround yourself with people who are truly helpful, those who truly lifts you up, those who are truly trying to understand or does understand (because they went through it) what we are going through, and ignore everyone else. – Pam F.
I read this today and thought about you. I asked Pam if I could share her words here because they just ring so true. No one understands better than someone who has walked in your shoes or shoes that are the same fit, brand and style, following similar terrain. This is why it is so important to gather and connect with people who have made similar life choices so you can learn from each other, and be a support when no one else understands.
About a year ago, JJ told us about this little grocery store down in her neighborhood that sells beef bacon. We were curious, but because the little grocery store is outside of our normal grocery store roundup, we never made it there until just a few weeks ago.
We were out for the day wandering around and spending time together as a family. No movies, no iPods, just the five of us chatting about life and doing some errands. We stopped to get fruit and veggies at the local orchard we love, then we decided to search for JJ’s little grocery store in the hood.
Once we got there…we found 2 different brands of beef bacon, some amazing beef sausage, and some rabbits.
Yes, you read that correctly, Rabbits. In the freezer section, right in-between the chicken and the pork parts.
Khaled was really excited about this score and bragged about it to his good friend, Mr. Imam. Mr. Imam told us not to cook the rabbits, that Mrs. Imam was the Best at cooking them and she would teach us.
On Saturday, Mr. and Mrs. Imam and the little Imams came to hang at the house, and Mrs. Imam proceeded to teach me to cook rabbit.
It was interesting.
It was fairly simple.
All the children liked it.
Almost all of the adults liked it.
Except for this girl.
Yeah, but to be honest, I’ve been off meat for more than 2 months now and I really have felt really good and not missing it. I wasn’t looking forward to eating the rabbit, but I didn’t want to be rude. So I did. It tasted like chewy chicken. But the squick factor just was not an easy thing to get around. I will tell Khaled how to do it and he can cook it next time he has an inkling for rabbit. I won’t be cooking it.
On Sunday, I decided to invite our extended family over for Iftar on Monday night. You might not understand that this is a big deal for me, but it has been 11 years since I’ve invited my extended family over to the house for an Islamically related celebration. I decided this year was the year for change, so I asked and quite a few accepted. I was pleased that over 1/2 accepted the invitation on such late notice.
On Monday, we woke early for Suhoor. Monday we fasted Arafat. I made Lasagna, Strawberry Pretzel Squares, Roasted Garlic Bread and Cupcakes. There was supposed to be a tossed salad on the menu but by the time the guests had arrived and it was time for Iftar, I was happy with whatever we had.
I am happy to say that our family Iftar was a great addition to our Eid celebrations. We shared a wonderful meal, the cousins all played together and we passed out small gifts to every child.
On Tuesday morning, we woke early to prepare for Eid prayer.
We attended Eid Prayer with Mr and Mrs. Imam and hundreds of members of the congregation. The grass was wet and it was a little chilly so the prayer was held inside the hall. When we arrived, the ladies section wasn’t completely full and the first row of women sitting on the floor to pray was behind the last line of the men. Leaving over 1/2 of the women’s side completely empty. I stood at the back of the room waiting for Kate and Pea even though the room was squeezing room only once the prayer got underway. Someone asked me to step outside if I wasn’t going to pray, but I could not. Kate and Pea depend on me to be right where they left me when they finish praying. I’m not going to disrupt their sense of security because someone didn’t want to weave through the women praying to get to the front of the EMPTY ROOM to pray. God help me I will never understand the nit picky BS that happens in Muslim prayer spaces. I took photos for Side Entrance. (Notice the LOVELY step-ladder in front of the women’s prayer space? If you look ever so carefully, you will see behind the Imam there is a beautiful Eid Mubarak sign with decorations hanging from the ceiling.) I actually saw quite a few other women taking photos with their phones, I’m not sure if they will be submitted…I didn’t know the sisters…and I didn’t feel comfortable asking.
After the prayer and the brunch of pizza, grapes, cookies and foul we left. Mrs. Imam, the little Imams, Kate and Pea came with me to the house while Khaled, Mr. Fox and Mr. Imam went to the farm to perform the slaughter.
This is the first year Khaled has been able to physically perform the udhaya on the Eid here in America. Once when we were in Egypt, Mr. Fox went with Khaled and saw a lamb being slaughtered for meat and they have also done it a few times since then, but never on the holiday. So, this year it was really special, a big change in the way we celebrate the holiday and completely new to me.
When they came back from the farm, they had about 5 big bags of meat still on the bone, just barely broke down from the actual animal shape. I really didn’t have any idea what to expect. Somehow I imagined something smaller in scale than the 4 hours of work that continued in my kitchen. Khaled, Mr. Fox and Mr. Imam cutting, chopping and trimming meat and placing it in ziplock bags. 1/3 for the poor, 1/3 for friends and 1/3 for us.
Mrs. Imam cooked the heart and kidneys with onion, I took pictures.
I found the whole thing quite overwhelming. But tried really hard to set my feelings aside, but on a brave face for our guests and Khaled. I texted my sister-in-law in Egypt. I texted JJ. The children were watching movies in the lower level, somewhat oblivious to what was happening upstairs.
We ate a dish called Maglooba with the leftover Roasted Garlic Bread.
And the Imam family left with a trunk full of lamb to distribute to the needy.
Khaled offered to clean the kitchen. I needed to do something cathartic to get the tension out of my body.
There is something about cleaning that helps me get rid of difficult feelings.
So, I made up some bleach water and methodically went through the kitchen from top to bottom.
At the end of the day, my house smelled like a swimming pool, our bodies were as tired as our minds and memories were made.