The Eid al-Fitr holiday, which celebrates the end of Ramadan, is actually a three-day public holiday here in Saudi Arabia. People exchange presents, visit extended family members, and enjoy Eid parties. Most places are closed on the first day of Eid, but shops and restaurants start to reopen on the second day.
Our Eid started off relatively low-key. We woke up for fajr, and then Mr. Mostafa went to the masjid for Eid prayers. Soon after he left, I started doing some random cleaning around the apartment while Lavender continued to sleep in bed. It was a calming morning–the sun was rising outside, and as much as I love Ramadan, I was thrilled that I would be heading downstairs in a few minutes to eat a big, yummy Eid breakfast with my in-laws, with no concern for fasting.
Suddenly, I heard Lavender screaming in the bedroom, and I sprinted to her. It looked like she was still sleeping, but tears were streaming down her face as she kicked and screamed like someone was attacking her. I’d read about night terrors before, but I’d never seen a child having one, and I panicked. I scooped her up and began to comfort her, although she continued to cry for a few minutes.
For the rest of the day, she was a bit fussy and a lot clingy. When we went downstairs to eat Eid breakfast and exchange presents, she got scared of one of her presents, a large Hello Kitty bouncy ball. For lunch, we went out to Copper Chandni for Indian food, and I think she had fun (luckily, she seems to enjoy Indian food as much as her parents do), but she was more demanding than usual. If she could talk, I’m sure her proclamations would have sounded something like, “Give me parathas now, minions!”
In the evening, we got dressed up and went to Mr. Mostafa’s grandmother’s house to visit family members.
Once we got there, Miss Lavender was uncharacteristically standoffish. She didn’t want anyone to hold her except for me or Baba; the only way she could be lured out of our laps was if someone was holding an iPhone with an interesting YouTube song playing (this song is currently among her favorites; it’s about a little boy trying to get the attention of his family members. She also enjoys pretty much anything on the Super Simple Songs channel, and she’s into some vintage Sesame Street as well, in both English and Arabic, foisted on her by her parents, both of whom were avid Sesame Street fans in their youths and respective languages). At one point, her auntie attempted to swing her in the air, an activity that usually leaves her shrieking with glee. This time, though, she burst into tears and screamed in terror.
She was just not havin’ it.
Things got better as Eid went on. After the little one demonstrated that she was in no mood for more family gatherings (we tried to tell her that everyone just wants to hold and play with her because she’s adorable, but alas, she did not seem receptive to our explanations), we decided that the three of us would go for a picnic in King Abdullah Park, which is lovely, full of grass, and has a very cool fountain show.
So, with the help of my mother-in-law, we packed a picnic, which included peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cheese sandwiches, gahwa, tea, water, dates, and a couple of Kit Kats. Once we got to the super-crowded park, we staked out a section of the grass, spread out our picnic blanket, set up our picnic chairs (which sit directly on the ground and look kind of like this, and which we bought from a vendor outside the park), parked Lavender’s stroller next to our blanket, and relaxed. We broke out the finjals (disposable and shabby chic) and sipped gahwa while we chatted and observed the bustle around us.
Lavender, meanwhile, was conked out in her stroller, and she got in a good nap. So the whole family was relaxing, it seems.
There was a huge stage set up in the park, as well, where traditional Saudi dances and songs were being performed by artists from all around Saudi Arabia. We sat behind the stage area, because it was incredibly crowded around the stage. But it was so nice to hear the music being played and the cheering going on behind us.
I broke out my new camera (I bid farewell to my DLSR a few weeks ago and I haven’t regretted it yet; a good compact camera is so much better for street photography, especially here in Saudi Arabia) and snapped some pictures of the families surrounding us on the grass, also picnicking and enjoying the Eid.
King Abdullah Park is right next to the Faisal bin Fahad soccer (okay, okay, football) stadium, so our picnic spot also put us in an amazing location to watch the fireworks show that takes place at 11:15 each night of Eid, with the fireworks being shot off from the stadium. Lavender was awake by the time the fireworks started, and at first, she was upset by the noise. But she snuggled in my lap, I covered her ears with my hands, and within a few minutes, she was watching, amazed. I couldn’t take pictures of the fireworks because my hands were otherwise occupied, but we all had a great time, and our evening was so fantastic that Mr. Mostafa and I have decided that a picnic at King Abdullah Park on at least one night of Eid al-Fitr is now a Hunter-Mostafa family tradition.
Happy Eid to all!