Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just Another Lebanese Sunday

It's almost 10:30pm and I'm ending the day with an episode of 8 Limbed Boy on the Discovery Health Channel. The boy is from India and having his parasitic twin removed. It was odd enough for everyone else to call it a night and interesting enough to give me a second wind. Taking a two hour nap today may have helped as well. I'm sure to have some interesting dreams tonight, that's for sure.

Today was the first full day of my family being together for the holidays. I love my family, but sometimes I think the movies, especially holiday movies, have messed up my set of expectations for these times together. My time with them is immensely better when I can release these expectations and appreciate our time together as is.

Our day began with Lebanese Mass at 11am.

Actually it began with the drive over.

Sometimes I wonder if the reason my family always ends up having these crazy tense arguments on the way to church is so that we arrive to Mass with a clear sense of our need for forgiveness. Never fails. My dad only managed to score one middle finger from a fellow driver on the drive down. Not bad. My brother, stewing in the fact that he didn't have enough time to get ready because he thought Mass was at noon and not 11am, would not turn and look at the beautiful rainbow behind us. He missed a good one.

My mom, trying to mediate, cracked us all up. "Are you joking me? I told you 11am yesterday."

Though the funniest thing she did today was after church, at lunch with some family friends (they are a Lebanese and El Salvadoran couple), when in hopes of asking for a spoon, she asked the waitress in Spanish. Here's the funny thing. My mom's English is not that great, her Spanish is even worse. Oh, and, the waitress was from the Phillipines. "One Asian asking another Asian for a spoon in Spanish, I think it's ok to use English here." was my brother's commentary. He's agreed that he's the snarky one in the family. I'm a close second.

With only a two hour break in between gatherings, I passed out. First nap of the holidays. Then it was off to my uncle and aunt's home for a visit around 6pm. He's the uncle who had emergency brain surgery while we were all on vacation in San Diego, for my cousins wedding. Whenever I see him, I am reminded of God's ability to do the impossible!

And, in good Lebanese fashion, we left my aunt and uncles home for a 'short' visit with another family. Elie and Eva are good family friends. They were high school sweethearts and fell in love 30 years later, when my uncle (that's what we call family friends) was divorced and Eva was widowed.

It's a very Lebanese thing to travel from home to home simply visiting people. This is especially true if someone is in town visiting. I'm also always in awe watching Lebanese families host their guests. They rarely ask, what would you like to drink, they just serve you their best. To the Lebanese, it's how you honor each other, both in offering coffee, tea, and homemade baklava and figs, as well as receiving them gladly. So my dad having my brother AND me home is like opening gifts on Christmas for him. Joy.

When I was a kid we would stop and visit Lebanese families and friends, often on the way home. My dad would say we'll just stay long enough for one cup of coffee. That coffee would often take an hour and a half to finish. What was deceiving was that Arabic coffee is a lot like espresso, meant to be sipped. The size is only about 1/4 of a cup. No milk. But, man oh man, did they nurse that coffee.

Overall, today was a great day of being with my family, experiencing Advent, and getting in touch with my Lebanese roots, one piece of baklava at a time.

And oh, here's what happened to the 8 Limbed Boy, in case you were writhing in agony, wondering if he made it. Good news, the surgery was completely successful and he's recovering.

Well, The Boy Who Shed Tears of Blood just came on, and that's my cue to go to bed!


Teri said...

Oh, my - this is so fun to read. I can picture all of these visits. And watching 8 Limbed Boy - how can you discount this as a treasured holiday memory? Those idyllic Christmas movies got nuthin on you.
That whole "visiting" thing is something I'm envious of. I tried to implement it last Sunday by just showing up at a friend's (who will remain nameless) - she kinda laughed at me, but at least didn't turn me away. I'm pretty sure she didn't offer any Arabic coffee. So... can I stop by your parents' house next Sunday? And expect the coffee?

Honesty: the lost art said...

I know right Teri? I don't like to call ahead. Its so formal. Growing up we would just knock on the door or just walk in and spend time with out friends and such. I wish I had more people to do that with here.

Honesty: the lost art said...


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