Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

Tag: Family

Christmas is Officially Over

Christmas Day 2012

Schools were closed today due to the weather. I found this out at 5:31 am when I got a call with an automated message. Afterwards, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I ended up waking up late and even though I got some writing done, the background noise of Spongebob and Patrick, Dora and Diego, and “mom, I want this and that” got to be too much.

Shortly after my husband came home, I escaped with my laptop. I decided to go to McDonald’s since it’s right around the corner and a lot of people study there now-a-days. A woman around my age initiated a conversation. She is four classes away from getting her master’s degree and she only started going to college in 2005, when she was working full-time, had an eight-year-old son, and was a single mom. Her son is now 16 years old and she said that growing up in an environment where the two of them studied side by side was a very healthy experience for him. He’s very much ready for college already.

I felt better by the time I left McDonald’s. I came home and decided to finally take down the Christmas tree which my kids have begged me to keep in the living room. I tried to tell my son that it’s no longer Christmas, to which he responded, “Then why is there still snow, mamma?”

Until now, he often has me play Christmas songs in the car, although recently I’ve been firm about listening to my audio book – Michael Moore’s memoir “Here Comes Trouble.”

Christmas is officially over in my house, and the house is so quiet that I don’t want to go to sleep and miss out on the beauty of its silence.

Freedom Christian

Church

Christmas vacation is officially over. Schools were back in session today and I had a hard time putting my mind back into place, having lost it – in a good way – for the last few weeks. With no schedules intact, my children and I did pretty much what we wanted when we wanted, most of the time doing nothing but lounge around. I skipped church, the gym, the coffee shop.

Today I prepared to get back into our usual routine. Wednesday evenings is Bible study at Freedom Christian, a nondenominational church, which I started attending shortly after Halloween 2012. My sister-in-law first learned of this church some six years ago, after she got a tip that every Halloween they put up a huge tent and provide free donuts, coffee, popcorn, caramel apples, and candy for the kids. They also have free kids’ games, recently even a petting farm. Every year, we would take the kids trick or treating in the neighborhood and then meet up at the church. In the beginning, rarely any Chaldeans (Christian Iraqis) came to this tent. Then their numbers increased, to the point where it seemed they were the majority of attendees. I had a good vibe about the church and often wondered what it was like inside. Last Halloween, members of the church were passing flyers about a kids’ program and daycare center they had for all ages. I thought, “I’m in.” I had wanted to find a church where my children felt happy and welcome and hoped this would be it. It was.

I pulled to the back of the building and saw the parking lot empty. The church was closed. On the way home, I stopped at McDonald’s to pick up hot chocolate for the kids, as promised. At home, I parked the car, looked behind me and saw two children completely knocked out. I thought, how heavenly! They napped for two hours and I got to work on the book I’m currently writing.

Thanks, Freedom Christian.

Happy New Year

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It’s 3:30 am. I finally have a chance to sit down, drink a fresh cup of coffee, a caramel drizzle, and to write my very first post. My in-laws left a few hours ago, but I could not leave the house a mess and go to bed. We had a few unexpected guests tonight. Unexpected guest number one is a cousin who happens to not get along with unexpected guest number two. Needless to say there was a little bit of drama, but that’s expected in any home let alone a Middle Eastern one.

I made the appetizers, my husband made a wonderful barbecue and my in-laws brought over a lot of food like stuffed grape leaves and saffron rice with lamb. Much preparation went into the dishes, but it was nowhere near what it takes to make pacha, a traditional Iraqi dish usually made during the holidays. Pacha is made from sheep’s head, trotters and stomach; all boiled slowly and served with bread sunken in the broth. The stomach lining is filled with rice and lamb and stitched with a sewing thread. The brains and tongues are considered the best parts. The eyeballs are a delicacy. Every Christmas, my sister-in-law spends three days preparing pacha and then on Christmas afternoon my family and I go to have a pacha lunch and exchange presents. As a child, I never understood why grown ups savored pacha so much, but now I do – although I won’t eat any brains, tongues or eyeballs. When I visited my cousin in Germany, he made a pot of pacha – eyeballs and all – but told me he had gone to a farm an hour away to get the ingredients because it was illegal to sell them in the regular market.

It’s nearly 4:00 am. My coffee cup is almost empty. It’s time to say goodnight.