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Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas 2013

Every year on Christmas day for the past few years, I have been hosting a non-Christmas Christmas party for a few of our closest friends, family, my students (past and present) and anyone else who wants to join us. Please let me explain. As many of you know, I am a practicing Shia Imami Ismaili Muslim and as such, don't celebrate Christmas in the religious sense.

But I LOVE CHRISTMAS and the entire holiday season. For about 25 years now, we have put up a Christmas tree and decked the outside of the house with beautiful colorful twinkling lights. The wreaths are hung on the front door, the garlands are wrapped on the staircase banister, my santa claus collection  goes up, and the house starts to smell of pinecones. My favorite thing to do is to sit in the darkened room with only the twinkling lights filling the room with the soft glow of the holiday season.


With the lights turned off and only the tree lights on.

On Christmas day, most of us non-Christians do not have the special Christmas mass to attend or presents to open and usually are left hanging out alone at home. But a few years ago, we decided to get together on Christmas evening and the next thing I know, we are hosting a Christmas party.

And last nite was fabulous! We had a smaller group last night with about 20 kids between the ages of 16-10 years and about 10 adults. There was Christmas music at first and then hip hop later. We stood around the large dining table, held hands, said grace (Sura Fatiha with the translation in English) and then sat down to enjoy all the delicious food. 
Plenty of yummy food: nihari, buffalo chicken wings, dum kheema, laal aaloo, samosa, wontons, brownies, red velvet cake, delicious creamy fruit salad, cookies etc.

My heart just expanded with gratitude as I saw all of my young students, some of their parents (who were strangers to me before), and my family and friends, sitting and breaking bread together. And the conversations flowed freely. It was beautiful!!!! 

After dinner, half of the boys went back to playing basketball in the backyard (beautiful Florida weather) and the rest went back to chilling on the couch while checking their Instagram, Snapchat, Vine and Twitter feeds. A few of us adults sat in another part of the house and indulged in some stimulating conversation.

Around 11:45 pm. I decided to get everyone together in the family room to have a discussion, some bonding time. You see, a few months ago, I ordered a couple of these really cool cubes that have about 100 or so questions designed to get a conversation started. They're called Table Topics. I invited them all to join and given that most of them have had me as their teacher, they were used to me so they went along. I started by saying that we would only spend about 15 minutes on this and they all agreed. We started with some simple questions like, "What color makes you happy?" and moved on to questions like "What new thing do you want to try in the coming year?" Everyone of us shared at least once and we went on for about 45 minutes and they loved it.

We started to wrap up around 2 am and all in all, it was an amazing evening.

Thank you to all who came and helped make this Christmas so special!

I'll share some pictures in a day or two!

Love and Light,
Anita



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