I was on the phone with my great aunt this morning, she was talking about how happy her grandchildren were with Eid Al-Adha, all dressed up and running around the streets of the village collecting tiny gifts and cookies.
On TV, there were images of the Eid festivities in Gaza city. A pregnant looking correspondent asked a child about what he wanted to eat in celebration of this holiday, “Shawerma” he said, one of the cheapest foods one can buy. On a holiday where people boast their huge tables crowded with meat and cookies, this kid wanted a cheap sandwich.
I was in the back of the car, driving to my aunt’s huge lunch, when I started thinking about hope, or perhaps, how hope works. Driving to our small family lunch were people who lost their sister, their moms, their fathers, and said goodbye to traveling daughters (not knowing whether they’ll ever come back), and here we were, on the road to celebrate a holiday of food and hope.
It occurred to me then that (hope) could be the running theme of the city; less than a few years ago, Ramallah was collecting its rubble like pieces of blown up children, thinking that it might never survive the agony of lost limbs and loves, but look at us now, the whole city, heck, the whole country, is going to lunch somewhere.
When we got to my aunt’s house, there were three huge platters on the dinning room table; stuffed zucchini and grape leaves, thickly sliced roast beef, some goat’s well baked internal organs (yup, we eat that), salads, hummus, and a plate of cooked dandelions dipped in tahini (yes, we eat that too, they are really good for you, you should try them sometime).
I filled my plate with salad and dandelions; the less complicated foods. I stared at my plate for a while and thought, this time around, and after so much loss, I’m thankful for the less complicated things. Tiny love notes, kind phone calls, warm music, long novels, funny kids, good poems, and of course, delicious food, prepared with at least an ounce of optimism. Most importantly, I’m thankful for the ability to be grateful, despite my deep inability to not mark this as the fourth Eid without my mother.
As for you, little child from Gaza, I hope you get to eat a huge Shawerma sandwich, filled with fresh vegetables and heaps of outstanding (dripping-all-over-your new clothes) tahini.