Saturday, July 23, 2016

Christmas in July

I'll bet you thought the end of Ramazan would never come...on my blog, anyway.

After Ramazan, they had a party!

A three-day party to be exact.

And July 6th was day one.

I'll be honest.  I was a little nervous about that first day.

I asked several people what to expect, and I got different answers from everyone.

We were ready, but we didn't know what for.

On the 5th, Doug cleaned our porch and picked up all the trash from the street in front of our house (which every kid in the neighborhood uses as a trash can).

We bought individually wrapped chocolates and some mixed nuts.  

We vacuumed, dusted, hid messes you don't want people to see, etc.

And then we got ready for bed.

Sleep didn't happen.

There were assorted fireworks in the city, plus bottle rockets and Roman Candles happening right in front of the chicken dukan.

This is the Bottle Rocket crew the following morning, still at it.  I snapped their picture out Kylie's window.

They all belong to the extended family of our landlord.

Actually, the fireworks were being aimed (not on purpose, I think) in the direction of our house and the electrical wires that run in front of it.  Smart, huh?

We set our alarms early.  We were told Doug needed to be at our gate, with doors open, at 7am with "the chocolates," and the girls needed to be in their cultural clothing with hair done ready to go at 8am.

I don't know who makes up these times, but we tried our best.

Sure enough, I looked at the window at 7:20, and Doug had just served chocolates to a bunch of men.

The men and boys walk around after prayers.  I don't know who decides who stays at home with chocolates and who walks around, but we did the chocolates.

If children walk around, they are given chocolates AND money.

At 7:30, Doug came to get me to tell me there were some women there to greet me.

It was two sweet ladies from the other side of the Chicken dukan.  We told each other how beautiful we looked, kissed cheeks four times, did all the holiday greetings, and they said to come by later.

See?  So that's the deal.

Day One is a big visitation day.  From 8am to Noon, you go door-to-door visiting your neighbors.

Whole families visiting whole families.

After that is lunch and family time.

This will be the first time Doug and I go visiting together.  I'm usually in the home with only women.

Question:  If we're all visiting door-to-door, who's at home?  (It's questions like these that were driving me crazy.)

Well, 8 o'clock wasn't working for my neighbor Jasmine*.  She sent her daughter over at 7:30 to get us.

Here's some of us.

We went into her sitting room.  It was the first time I'd ever been in a room with her husband.  I've seen him at the vegetable dukan they own, but he's never spoken to me.

There was a lot of silence because our language is so limited.

I went in the kitchen to help Jasmine* serve...homemade baklava!

 And nuts...and orange juice...and water...and Pepsi.

I felt comfortable helping Jasmine*, which I would only do in the home of a good friend.  Usually, you just sit and wait to be served.  But after our family came, her daughter-in-laws parents and brothers came in to join us, so I served everyone.  I also texted the American friends with language (Jennifer*, her husband, and her three kids) we were going to walk around with, and they came over.

Jasmine* had told our girls and Jennifer's* girls to go upstairs to visit her 17-year old twins who were still getting ready.

The make-up application took forever!  They stayed upstairs with the twins until it was time to leave.  The way we knew it was time to leave was because more people were coming in.

The good news is that we had a good conversation with the other family that had come in (the family of the daughter-in-law).  On the TV was the live stream of what was happening in Mecca.  As we watched several hundred people march in circles around the Kaaba (the black building in Mecca that followers of Islam face when they pray).  We asked why they were marching around it.  Why there weren't a lot of people there on this special day (compared to the hoards of crowds we've seen before), and we had a small amount of time to say small Truths to them before we leave.  

Any seed planted is better than no seed at all.

First house down.

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