I guess Eid is really what you make of it. I never really noticed too much before that Eid (both al Fitr and al ‘Adha) is quite the dull, lifeless affair here, unlike “back home.” There, we are surrounded by tons of family, over-abundance of food, no shortage of places to go and things to do, as the entire community pretty much goes on strike from work, whatever work it is they all do.
But here…well, Eid comes, and life pretty much goes on. We go to work, usually have midterms scheduled right on Eid day, and take care of the mundane tasks that really could stand to be over-looked for just one day. As the women of the house, we do our part to create an Eid atmosphere by dressing up, even when we’re going to school. Let me tell you, there is nothing quite like trekking across a university campus in high heels. Half of me asks, “what the hell are you trying to do, end up in hospital with a broken leg?” and the other half of me responds, “but that would make for a hell of a more interesting Eid!” (I kid, of course.) And of course…the cooking. Eid is simply not Eid without the smell of biryani in the air, whether you actually eat it or not.
And of course, what really rounds out Eid al ‘Adha: knowing that if we were at our grandparents’ places (dad’s side in the morning, mom’s side in the afternoon, toy store in between), we would do our part for the qurbaani. That is something that is definitely missing here, and to me is the absolute definition of Eid al ‘Adha. Since we’ve been in this country, we have gone to a farm to slaughter our own qurbaani at most two times. That’s in twenty-plus years. It’s simply impossible to fight the traffic out of LA towards whatever farm, make it to a farm in time to get a nice animal, slaughter it, piece it, take it to a butcher for cleaning, etc. Something about the whole affair is simply too daunting. So, it’s easier to have our family do our qurbaani for us back home, and distribute it amongst the poor. On the plus side, being back home would have meant dealing with that inquistive auntie, this camera-crazy uncle, and that impossibly bratty cousin/second cousin/third cousin. But even they begin to look mighty attractive when I am sitting 10,000 miles away.
Is this really Eid? Cook, clean, dress up, wear extra-special make-up (my first, last, and only real love), go shopping in what really is a desperate attempt to make the day look a wee bit different than the day before it. There was a time when we would make sure to get ice-cream from Häagen-Dazs, in the wafer/sugar cone or cup…and then the shop nearby closed down. Sometimes, we entertain friends…but most people we know now have family in this country, so they have no reason to be entertained by us. And, let’s be honest…when the entertaining is all one-sided…well, it’s not so entertaining anymore.
As you can see, our Eid is usually a series of “this and that, but…”. It may sound depressing and weird, but alhamdulillah at the end of the day, we always say “It was a beautiful day, and at least everybody found something to make themselves happy.” And, that, my friends, is Eid in a nutshell.