As an American Muslim kid, from small town USA, I looked forward to Eid like my pals at school looked forward to Christmas. Not because of the religious context, but because of the same reasons as any other American kid would.
I remember waking up in the morning every year and finding a huge warm pot of Saviyahn (vermicelli slow boiled in tons of sugar, heavy cream, and milk) that my mom had spent all night preparing. Next to it was 8 bowls and 8 small spoons, one for each us siblings (yes, we are 8!). My brothers and sisters were all rushing in and out of the bathroom to get dressed and ready. My mom would come out of her room with a HUGE smile, teeth shining bright, eyes squinting, and laughing while saying “Eid Mubarak!!” She would kneel down and dig in with a bear hug while saying “this is a very special day that God has blessed us with.”
I remember everyone ready, stuffed from the savinyahn and excitedly waiting for dad. He would pop out of his room with a big smile. I knew what was going to come next. He pull out his wallet, and one by one, hand out 20’s and 50’s while saying “Eid Mubarak, here is your Eidhee!” Following it with a soft loving hug.
I grew up in a small town in the panhandle of Florida, called Bonifay. Not to date myself, but we’re talking about the 80’s and 90’s. There weren’t Muslim centers or Masjids for gathering, especially accross the rural southeast. So all the Muslims living in small towns accross southern Alabama, southern Georgia, and northern Florida would come to our little town of Bonifay for Eid. The location varied at places like the hall of the national guard armory, the city recreation center, or the Ag Agriculture center until eventually we put enough money together to buy and convert a burned up bar into a Masjid.
Upon arrival, we would quickly lay out the prayer mats. Dad would always start the Khutbah (sermon) on time. As soon as he finished, the place would erupt with smiles, hugs, and enjoyment! Each family brought one dish and we all spent the entire day as one big family. When I say BIG, I don’t mean numbers I mean hearts. Becuase there were still only about 20 families in total. The food spread would come out. Each of us knew which food items were made by which aunti, because on this day, they would bring their specialty dish. As a kid, I remember all of the visiting dads handing out 5’s and 10’s as Eidhee. Not to their own kids, but to all of us. And then later, dad would bring out this big trash bag with toys. With pockets filled with cash and hands grasping toys, we’d head outside to play.
As a boy, I made sure I avoided the women’s side. If I did get caught, I knew I’d get “lipstick bombed.” Lipstick bomb is not a good thing if you are a 10 year old boy. A lipstick bomb is when every Auntie kisses you with their bright red Eid lipstick. Something absolutely impossible to take off. So you had to live with it, or live with smeared red cheecks!
After an entire day of smiles, hugs, kisses, eating, gifts, ad playing, what I remember the most is coming home at night and sitting in the living room with mom, dad, and my siblings. We would sit together and talk about the events of the day. The food, the outfits, and the fun. While chatting, dad and mom would roll through their phone book calling friends and family all around the world. One by one, the phone would get passed around the room, “its grandma, say Eid Mubarak!” “It’s your mom’s brother, say Eid Mubarak!” Until we had sent Eid wishes to everyone.
As I flashback through all the amazing Eids in my life, I realize that the collection of memories were made from moments of wonderful experiences delivered by people who loved me.
“People will forget what you said, forget what you did, but will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelo.
On this day and everyday hereafter, let’s make it our only priority to deliver amazing experiences to everyone around us. #illuminateon
Eid Mubarak, Eid Kareem, and Happy Eid to all around the world!