By Mira Khatib
The “Ka’eks” aroma filled the air as my mother and grandmother worked tirelessly in the kitchen preparing the traditional sweets for Eid. I remember sneaking in every now and then and grabbing some of the hot baked cookies to indulge in, sometimes I still can taste that sweetness from long ago. Days have been spent cleaning, buffing, and cooking; everything had to be perfect and ready for that awaited time.
The whole experience of Eid from my childhood years is still carved fresh in my memory. The excitement I felt when going shopping to buy new clothes for the celebration to come, was like no other, even the crowds in the shops seemed happier than usual and more tolerant to the accumulating traffic. People…even strangers greeted each other with handshakes, hugs and kisses. Yes, it was the spirit of Eid filled with kindness and gladness for everything life had to offer.
And here Eid comes again this year… and I try strongly to cling to the emotions it made me feel as a child while trying to make my own children live the experience in the same joy and excitement I experienced when I was their age.
Sure even for this Eid days are spent cleaning and buffing…okay I am not the one who is actually doing all the cleaning and buffing, lucky for me I have a house maid that keeps everything immaculate, so nothing really seems out of the ordinary as the same cleaning is done every single day of the week.
Well I really wanted that same “Ka’ek” aroma to fill the air in my home…and I did try once long ago when I first got married to actually bake them myself, but after the disaster of burning half and being unable to chew the other half, made me just stop trying ever since. So now I am thankful for all the fabulous stores that have those yummy desserts all done and ready for me to buy with no effort or damage what so ever. I do feel bad that my daughter won’t remember me in the kitchen huffing and puffing while baking…and I do hope she will get over that.
So what is left? Ah…yes shopping of course. I try and talk my kids into coming with me to the mall to help me choose their Eid clothes and it’s not easy to explain why new clothes are needed when they have so much hanging in their closets already; you know kids could really get irritating when they want to make a point. I try to win them over by explaining the atmosphere of malls during Eid shopping and how different it will all appear… they told me they are sure to see the same mall they visit every weekend…Okay I am their mother I just made them go…or else!
I tried to sing along with the radio while stuck in traffic trying desperately not to get annoyed and keep in mind the Eid spirit, not to mention that my kids are just waiting for me to snap and give them an excuse to argue some more. Finally and only after 30 minutes I found a parking spot and was on my way for some great and joyous spending. Few hours later I found myself exhausted while trying to keep my balance from the numerous shopping bags dangling from each arm. Just trying to maneuver amongst the crowds really got the best of me…I wondered if my mother felt the same way when we went Eid shopping, was it always like this?
Okay that didn’t go as well as I planned, I really wished that I didn’t bring along my kids they just made the whole experience more excruciating. Still not all was lost I still had few more attempts to make Eid as pleasant for my children as I remembered it to be for me.
As a child the first day of Eid was a true pleasure as all the family and relatives gathered for a great feast, bringing along lots of treats and toys and of course cash. I spent endless hours with my cousins planning what we will do with our sudden wealth. Later on I went along gladly with my parents to visit more relatives and friends, ensuring more treats, gifts and …. Cash!
Sadly, I just couldn’t imagine cooking a big feast on the first day of Eid, especially after the routine of previous days, and besides as foreigners in Dubai we don’t really have any relatives to invite, so instead we went out for our Eid lunch, and I did try to pick a restaurant that my family hasn’t been to for a while, so it felt more special. My husband and I shared with our children stories from the past of how we saw our fathers slaughter sheep to signify the arrival of Eid. We just got horrified looks in return…did the world really change that much?
My husband and I weren’t sure what to buy our kids as they already have everything so we gave them money instead, and we did get an appreciated kiss (finally something that is familiar). Well like I mentioned we don’t really have family in Dubai so we visited the few close friends we have, which took few hours and then as there was nothing else left to do we decided to make the rest of the day be for the kids and took them where all kids love…Wild Wadi.
We didn’t really mind the long lines we had to wait in to get our turns on the rides, as the laughter of kids around us echoed in the air. Seeing children so carefree and happy made Eid fulfill its meaning once more. I realized then that maybe experiencing Eid did in fact change from generation to the next yet it still brought great joy in different ways every time.
Maybe my children won’t remember me baking or having big feasts, or getting lots of toys… but I’m sure they too will have their share of fond memories of this meaningful occasion to look back on as adults. I guess that is what makes Eid be Eid with its generous spirit leaving something special for everyone anywhere, anytime…and always.
Eid Mubarak to all readers.