Alhamdulillah, I had a really nice Eid with my family on Thursday. I had bought my daughter her first abaya and she looked so cute, mashaAllah, with her long robe and pink hijaab. My abaya was nice and looked good even with a pink hijaab. I had not intended to wear a pink hijaab, but my washing machine broke on Wednesday evening as I was just starting the laundry marathon. I had to scramble around to make sure the boys had britches and I had something to cover my head, so pink it was.
The prayer was pretty much the same as always. Upon arrival at the indoor soccer field, I let the kids run and then went and greeted everyone I knew and a lot of ladies I don’t know. I always love to give salaams and wish Eid Mubarak to the little old aunties. Their faces light up when someone approaches them. I staked out a spot, laid out the prayer rugs, and waited for the prayer and khutbah. The prayer was fine – two fast raka’ats. The khutbah? Well, I never hear the khutbah. I gave up on that a few years ago. I took my two smaller kids and went to an adjoining smaller soccer field and let them play with all the other youngsters who had been turned loose, kept and eye on them and made sure everyone was playing nice. I figured if the khutbah was impossible to hear I may as well keep busy. After it ended I gathered up the same kids I arrived with, helped a little lost girl find her Mommy, and then we went home.
Once home, we changed, the kids piled into their Eid goodies of chips, soda, and candy, and then we piled back into the car and took off for D.C. Our goal was the National Zoo. Despite very heavy construction-delayed traffic on the way up, we prevailed and arrived at the zoo with plenty of time to oooh and aaah over apes and snakes and even some cute wild deer and ground squirrels. We drove back home, stopping on the way to eat at a Chinese buffet, and then closed out the day by falling exhausted into bed. It was, as the kids repeatedly said, awesome.
I shared some of the day with my Facebook friends, but as I posted pictures of rock hyrax and gharials, I remembered many times in the past when I had gone through the Eid celebration with nary a happy moment. I’ve had Eids that were totally meh and they passed just like any other day. And I knew that this would be the case this year for some of my Facebook friends. I wanted to comfort them, and remind them that it’s okay if their Eid was not one big joyous occasion. Eid can be stressful, Eid can be chaotic, and for some, Eid can really just be awful. And you know what? That’s normal. Life does not always measure up to the Hallmark card. The important thing is to not fear that this is the way it will always be, and to know that it does get better and more fulfilling as you go, inshaAllah. So if this year’s Eid was just kinda sucky, hang in there. You can make the coming year better and start to love the Eid. I posted a note on Facebook to that effect, and I got such overwhelming response to it that I’m going to post it here as well. So, read on, and let me know how you feel:
As Salaamu Alaikum! I just wanted to make a quick note for my Muslim brothers and sisters. You might look at the Eid wishes and the comments from other Muslims and see that they had a rich wonderful Eid experience, and if you had to work, or you are isolated from friends or family, you may not even have been able to go pray! You might start to think that Eid is not for you, or Islam isolates you, or that you are destined to be alone or not be able to fully love the Eid like you may have if you have a non-Muslim background that includes Christmas and other “big” holidays.
Remember, most of us who are reverts have been down your road! I have missed Eid prayers due to having to work, due to kids being sick, due to just not feeling like going! I’ve compared stressful Eids with women and men talking through the khutbahs and running late and Imaams who gave LOOOONG speeches no one could hear to the pleasures of my childhood, and sometimes I have found the Eid wanting.
I have had solo Eids when I was new in the community and did not feel like I knew ANYONE. I have had Eids that just really sucked. And you know what? I got over it. Time passed, I became more comfortable and knowledgeable as a Muslimah. I made friends, I got married, I became part of the community. And Eid got better.
Part of it was my attitude towards Eid. After a while, it no longer is an ill-fitting garment that you are trying to shrug into while you compare it to the comfortable non-Muslim holidays of your past. You start to internalize your Islam, you learn to do Eid crafts and decorations, you start to look forward to the prayer to see some people you don’t see often and to watch the kids running around in their lovely garments. You may still be irked by the women who won’t shut up or, in my case at our Eid prayer, an interminable, unintelligible sermon given by someone whose grasp of what an Eid prayer should be was tenuous at best. And it’s still good. It’s good because you actually liked how you looked in your pink hijaab, your kids managed to stay clean until it was time to go home, no one got knocked down or stepped on, you were able to find your shoes, you were able to find your KIDS’ shoes, you saw someone you really love for the sake of Allah, you finally met a Facebook friend in real life, and so on.
Do not generalize how THIS Eid went and think that all your Eids will be this way. It will take time maybe for you to love Eid. How can you speed up this process? By learning your Islam, by living your Islam all year round, by MOVING if you live in a town where you are the only Muslim (this is a big separate issue but really, you can’t be Muslim easily by yourself!), by not being too shy. Sometimes you just gotta put on that fabulous abaya or thobe, pin your hijab or brush your beard, and GO. And go with the flow. Don’t look with a critical eye and pick out all the wrong stuff. Find the good and embrace it. And let your kids eat candy and have some yourself and then go to the park and get bug bit and sunburned and ENJOY. It gets better, really it does.
Sincerely, and old married lady Muslimah who has been Muslim for 20 years alhamdulillah and who has been there and done that (and is still doing most of it!)