Thursday, January 04, 2007

Of Suspenders, Herrings, Customs, and Good Wishes

I spent most of today taking down the Christmas tree and trimmings, listening to new CDs, and musing about last week. Weeks before Christmas everyone was asking the other, “What do you think so-and-so would like? This is information difficult to give out when you are in need of it. I did provide a hint when I told my children that some of Dad’s suspenders don’t grip well anymore. He found eight pairs under the tree. The most unique one was the two inch wide, red elastic, walking boss suspenders that will grip and hold up trousers into the next millennium! The holiday is more than gifts – it’s also food. I love pickled herrings and bought four varieties of the delicacy. Since no one in the family really likes them, I will now need to finish them alone. An indulgence that’s good once in a while and I will savor the memory until next Christmas. The grandchildren told their mother that this was the best Christmas ever, and when she told me of their comment, she added one of her own, “They always say that.” First-rate news nonetheless.

My husband is faithful to the Jordanian tradition of going to Madaba on the morning of Christmas. This age old custom is to condole with the families in the tribe who have suffered a death during the year. The idea of remembering people who are grieving on their first Christmas or Easter without their loved one is compassionate and civilized, and a custom that I admire greatly. Our daughter was here after a two year absence, and we paid some private visits so she could pay her condolences. I think the hardest thing I learned about these visits is that there is nothing one can say. The real meaning is to visit and lend whatever support your presence may give.

Life in Jordan is finally getting back to normal after Christmas, the Feast of El Adha, and the New Year holiday. The city is opening up after what seems an eternity. Newspapers are available finally, and the children are hitting their books preparing to return to school and their inevitable exams. International and regional news remain much the same - just different hues of the same color. Regardless, 2007 is here with the hopes and wishes for a better life and a better year still fresh in our minds. Before this first week passes I add my good wishes to all for a great 2007!

ASH

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