Many Eid moon phases ago, I was a new Muslim convert. I have gone to several Eid events during those lunar phases. And like those phases, time has changed some of my views on such joyous events. I still attend though, I do.
I love the anticipation of preparing Eid clothes the night before, or, as energy is sometimes lacking these days, the morning of. Searching for my mother’s vintage seventies turquoise watch and ring, maybe a necklace given by a beloved sister so many years prior, and the Algerian silver bangle I snatched from my eldest daughter.
Recently, to add to my attire, a beautiful purple embroidered pashmina sent from the shores of Malaysia to the deserts of Arizona graced my old shoulders. While I definitely miss Eids of the past with many of my Muslims sisters I have met across the globe, I feel a connection to them still when I am able to wear a cherished gift from them. Not so long ago a surprise package brought cries of appreciation amidst fond memories.
Another memory sticks out in mind too of preparing for Eid. The chore of ironing clothes before hand has always plagued me. To this day, a sister friend from orbits past still loves to tease me on ‘my skill’ of ironing twice a year.
And then there is the morning of Eid itself nowadays. Rushing out the door to arrive in time by urging my husband, “Let’s go, go. Come on old man!”
On arrival, even parking is a thrill. Who will double park, who will invent new parking spaces, and who will actually observe the parking rules. Glancing at people exiting their cars in their finery is also a delight.
Seeing the children in their beautiful shawar kamiz’, abayas, thobes and the colors, oh, the colors of Eid are dear to behold. The crimson reds, the majestic blues, royal purples, vibrant yellows and oranges.
Attending Eid events now is with more experience, experience shaped through years of a tougher, crustier, desert skin added over my sensitive one. Such experiences began here:
Our community in Tucson first held it’s Eid celebrations at Christopher City. Christopher City was the University of Arizona’s family and international housing complex, which had event rooms to use for special occasions.
As a young convert new to the Muslim community in Tucson, I remember vividly my first Eid function in the Santa Rita room of Christopher City. My husband and I were told there would be an Eid dinner for everyone there. Although I was very much a newbie, I wanted to go. After all, it was my new holiday and I was ready to celebrate.
As we walked thru the entrance towards the two halls, tables of food were set in the entry hallway to serve us dinner. After I got my plate of rice, lamb, and salad, I went into the event room to join the other women for our Eid dinner.
A few women were already there. They were settled with their food plates, drinks, babies in carriers and kids in strollers or running here and there. More women came as time passed.
I found a place to eat. And did, with satisfaction. It was good, really, really good. The aromas and tastes of deliciously cooked food, full of flavor, zest, was such a turn of life food events for me.
Those delicious morsels of rice, lamb, and even the salad, were beyond what I had been accustomed to. I was a scrawny girl who grew up on boiled water, cigarette ashed mashed potatoes and pork chops surrounded by adults with hi-balls of vodka with orange juice. This was quite a profound change.
While the dinner itself was a grateful celebration, what was not a hit on the menu was during the entire time not one person came over to me to wish me Happy Eid or to sit with me.
I finished my Eid dinner and left the room to find my husband. I wanted to go home, now. I told him about how awful I felt. How no one talked to me. I cried. He listened. Back at that time, we were both new to the community. He did not know any of the men folk to ask, “Will your wife be there to meet my wife, she’s new to all of this…?” There wasn’t much he could do to help me verbally thru other channels in the community but he did help me by listening.
I bring this memory up now as a reminder to myself and anyone else who may care to listen in; of the adventures yet to come this Eid, the prayers, parties, dinners, clique dinners, and so on and so forth:
What if you and I see a new face at our Eid prayer? A dinner or picnic?
And if we do, will we take the time to greet, welcome them?
They may be a non Muslim guest. They may be a new convert to Islam. They may be a new member of your community or someone who has been unmosqued and is now courageously stepping back into the realm.
No matter where we are, if we see a new face, one item is clear on the menu; they need our greeting.
Don’t let them go home in tears of frustration or anger.
Give them a nice memory to take home with. I guarantee you they will hold it in their hearts and maybe some day share with others.
Eid Mubarak To You All.