Monday, December 25, 2006


Yes, December 25 is pretty much just another day here. I’ve seen a store with some Santa Claus suits and I’ve seen an inflatable Santa here and there and some Buche de Noel at the patisserie, but to say it’s low-key would be overstating it. Islam considers Jesus a prophet, but doesn’t accept that he’s the Son of God. All of the Old Testament prophets are prophets in Islam too. Muslims are more accepting of other people “of the book” than they are of other faiths. Where Islam diverges is in accepting Mohammed as the final prophet and the Koran (which Mohammed got from Gabriel over the course of ten years, and didn’t write down – his disciples did) as the final word. Today some YD's, Nico and Natasha, are in town (they have Sundays and Mondays off) so I spent some time with them – went to a café, showed them the artisana, walked around the medina.

L-Eid Kbir is coming up – the big holiday. This is the one where every family kills a sheep and spends the next week or so (however long it takes) eating it. Nervous sheep have been appearing in town all weekend and there should be many at the souk tomorrow (I am determined to go!). Janeila is a vegetarian so this past weekend we had delicious lentils, the pepper salad and the eggplant salad I like so much, Moroccan toast (which to me is the same as French toast but my host mother insisted on calling it Moroccan toast), a potato-and-egg dish, and the usual lots of bread. Either that was too little meat for my family or they can’t wait for l-Eid, but last night my host father came home with take-out – two sheep heads. I had clementines – I just couldn’t do it – and I made sure that my family won’t be insulted if I avoid the sheep on l-Eid. As with l-Eid Sgir, the kids get new clothes and there is some visiting. It’s not really a gift-giving occasion, but my tutor said that in some families the adults give the kids a little money and I confirmed with my host mother that she would be okay if I gave the kids a token amount. I also want to ascertain if it’s okay for me to buy a birthday cake for myself and share it with the family; if so I shall but if not I won’t be sad. What’s interesting about l-Eid this year, at least to my tutor, is that due to the lunar calendar, this year it falls on New Year’s Eve. According to him, that is one day when even devout Muslims might let loose and have a little drink, but l-Eid is so sacred that religion will trump carousing.

I found what I thought were chicken bouillon cubes on Saturday and had some while out with Janeila; when I showed my host mom she said it was just for cooking and that if I drank it straight I’d get sick. I thought it made me feel better but so much for that. I thought about going to the hammam – would sitting in the steamy room help my cold? – but decided that to be in the room with whatever’s going around and then to go home with wet hair would be more detrimental than sitting in the steam would be beneficial.

More houses to look at this week, thanks to the friend of my host mom (I want to think of her as Ethel Mertz, but that’s not the right analogy – some sidekick or neighbor…any suggestions?), but the new apartment in the quiet neighborhood is growing on me. I walked by there with both Amanda and Janeila and they thought it might be a good choice. I still want to see what else might be out there but I think at this point something really has to wow me for me not to take the first place I saw!

Oh, and I ordered a jellaba! The ones that look warm are all for men – maybe women wear more underneath thinner ones. Anyway, near the artisana there's a tailor (who counts as an artisan here, by the way) who had displayed in his window a camel-hair-colored jellaba with faux fur hood trim and cuffs. I kept looking at it and finally went in to try it on. Too big. Tried a black one – too big, too grim reaper. Tried a red one – not my color, too big. So I ordered one custom – blue with brown faux fur trim – and a zipper! Most of them don't have zippers. It'll be ready next Friday (just in time for l-Eid). Next, sweater pants (all the rage…my fleece pants will be great here when they arrive in the mail) – maybe with a matching top, to wear under the jellaba, some boots (warm ones are finally appearing here, not just "fashion" ones), and maybe more traditional wear! And yes, I am finally at the point of wearing socks more than once while I wait for my box to socks to arrive. Not at the point of wearing underwear more than once, but since this is like a two-year camping trip, it may get to that point (though I may spare you if it comes to that).

I think of the people back home often, but especially now I am thinking of all the people I usually see in my seven-sets-of-people-in-three-states-in-four-days traditional Christmastime trip, the people I see in Chicago for holiday get-togethers, the people I saw in California last year in what might have become a new tradition (and still might), the people I exchange holiday cards and letters from, and everyone else who might not fit into one of those categories! I am looking forward to seeing those I will see at Reunions, but I know it will be a while before I see some of my other friends. I miss you all - happy holidays to all and to all a good night.

Merry Christmas from the Salmanson-Zemksy contingent of the Philadelphia holiday crowd! We are in france, and will be mailing you a BDay present from here, hoping it will get to you faster!
Mike et. al. - I would have called you today but I knew you were in France! I hope all is going well and I hope to hear all about the trip when you are back! Happy holidays and thanks for thinking of me - no need to send anything other than thoughts!
I had missed/forgotten that you were coming to reunions. We'll be there, too.
What do you think of Laverne and Shirley or the neighbor of Mary Tyler Moore - Julie Kavner??
Julie Kavner is a good one. What was her character's name though? She was Rhoda's sister, right? Actually, Rhoda might be good too, and less obscure.

I'm a little stressed about Reunions - I won't have a lot of vacation days accrued - but am trying not to worry about it until it gets closer. I am determined to be there!
Rhoda's sister is BRENDA-
But it sounds more like Cloris Leachman to me.
Yes, Phyllis might be good. All right, Phyllis it is.
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