~Last Christmas~ I was lonely
By Elina Sadeghian
Photo by Mehrad Tadidini
Holidays is all about the jolly joy of being with your family and giving each other presents; especially the part about receiving gifts. However being part of an immigrant family who doesn't have any relatives in town, holidays are a little different in our household.
Chrtistmas? Thanksgiving? Easter Bunny day? They're like every other day of the year in my family's books. Sure I may get in the spirit around others and every now and then put on a classy Christmas playlist as I eat ice cream to feel I’m in a winter wonderland (since California decided to skip over a whole season) however, that's the extent I go to . There was never a “Father, wake up the white bearded large man entered our premises through the chimney and left us goodies!” For one, we don't have a chimney and I was not raised on bogus characters only to find out I’ve been lied to for the early years of my life. The tooth fairy? My father would throw my teeth on top of the roof and would say the crows would collect it. It’s quite the lovely concept.
Holidays consist of me laying down on the couch and scrolling through my phone. I have tried to put my family in the spirits but it just isn't our thing and that's okay. Just because a person is living in another country doesn't mean they have to adapt to everything such as celebrating it’s national holidays. But that doesn't mean we don't celebrate at all. We say to one another on the first day of spring “Happy Aid/Aid mobarak!” and marvel at the beauty of spring; a holiday native to Persia.
Aid is similar to Christmas however, it celebrates the new year based on the lunar calendar. We decorate our table with Haft-sin which consists of seven symbolic items whose names start with the letter "س" pronounced as "seen" the 15th letter in the Persian alphabet. We decorate it with sabzeh(wheat/grain) symbol of growth and rebirth, samanu (wheat germ sweet pudding) symbol power and strength, senjed (persion olive) symbol of love, somāq (sumac) symbol of sunrise, serkeh (vinegar) symbol of patience, seeb (apple) symbol of beauty, seer (garlic) symbol of health and medicine. Most often on the head of the table there is a mirror with two candles on each side representing self-reflection (there is also sekeh (coin) and sonbol (sonbol flower) and a book of wisdom (such as the quran or one of the books of a famous poet such as Hafez or Rumi) that we put on the table); we paint eggs and put a goldfish on the table as well. While celebrating everyone gets dressed in their new and fancy clothing and laughs until the new year is announced. The adults give children money as “Aidi” and we visit each other's houses and indulge ourselves in pastry.
Aid is one of the purest and exciting holidays I have ever experienced. The warmth and the joy it brings, beyond words; It feels as if bright colors explode within you when someone laughs or embraces you; and the scent of freshly baked sweets is intoxicating. It is a feeling that consumes you making it seem as if that on this day, the world is innocent and you can hear spring’s laughter. It was a time and a feeling so beautiful that I can never get back as it stayed in the past leaving the future me alone in front of the TV as the new year is announced.
If there is one thing I have learned from not having a holiday to celebrate is that it is not the holidays that are exciting, it is the loudness and the warmth of a family coming together. My holidays are when my family is gathered together; it is when my cousins are laughing at each other; when my uncles would pick me up and spin me around as a little girl (when they used to hand me money). If you're lonely this Christmas, just remember that this holiday is irrelevant in many places in the world. So you're not really alone, there are millions of others that don't care for Christmas (gasp that’s crazy) and for the most part, it is a capitalist holiday. People spend a lot at Christmas, usually much more than they can afford, not just on presents but on food and alcohol as well as on transport to and from family homes; christmas is highly commercialized. Happy Holidays everyone!