Eid ul Adha was upon last week (or as we refer to it in Gaza-the meat Eid-)and this time it happened to coincide with the holiday season here in the US. So in shopping for a Eid gift for Yousuf, I had to deal with puzzled looks down south when I explain that we don't celebrate Christmas, but taken a step further, when I explain that actually it was also the Muslim Eid. I'm not trying to be facetious here, really. I'm just relaying conversations as they happened, and you be the judge.
Woman at checkout counter in toy store: "Oh what a lovely choice! Now is that a Christmas present for your son, or a birthday present...what kind of wrapping paper would you like?"
Me: "Actually, its a Eid
present. Eid is a Muslim holiday. It happens to coincide with Christmas this year".
Woman: "I see. Well we have Hanukkuah paper right here!"
You get my drift (this is a true story by the way).
I had an equally enlightening conversation with our neighour's grandson, who was in the process of showing off his new bike to Yousuf.
Jacob: "What did you get for Christmas Yousuf!"
Me: "Actually, Yousuf doesn't celebrate Christmas, Jacob. He celebrates Eid."
Jacob: "Well we celebrate Christmas. and I got a cool new bike."
"Yes, I know that, Merry Christmas. Our Holiday is called Eid."
"I thought you speak Spanish"
"We speak Arabic, but that's not the point...."
"Well, i got a bike for Christmas. What did Yousuf get?"
I rest my case. I'm not asking for much here, am I? Is a simple "oh-what's Eid?" too much to expect?
I'm not sure if I should blame the schools in this case, the media, the people themselves, even the Muslim community. Maybe a little bit of each, coupled with the fact that it is just easier to ignore anything having to do with Islam here. Either way its a little startling that so few people actually have any clue about what Eid is-compared with, say, Boston, where we used to live. I even took the initiative myself in one case, and attempted to email a supermarket chain I'm very fond of (Trader Joe's) explaining that it was also Eid and suggesting they add a "Eid Mubarak!" to their flyers along with "Happy Hannukah and Merry Christmas".
The response: Thank you for contacting us. We will forward your comments to Marketing and get back to you". Needless to say, they never got back to me. But I'm still holding out hope.Yousuf decorating cupcakes with friends this Eid.