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Posts tagged ‘gifts’

The list

This weekend was spent playing catch up on household work, scheduling as well as cooking. I am a list type of person and if you don’t know what that means I will enlighten you. There are menus, daily lists, hourly schedules, agendas and an assortment of variations in between. My mother has always been organized and everything is planned to the letter while I am more of a loose planner. Having spent the past 32 years keeping a household of nine children in order there have been numerous concessions with my obsessive planning and I have learned that nothing is written in stone, concrete or even sand. Lists serve more as a reminder of important things that need my attention and they keep our world in fairly good order. So this weekend and even today I am tweaking my schedule, knowing full well that it is always “tentative at best”.dsc_0048 (1)

For Black Friday my oldest children gave me some money to go shopping and I ended up purchasing a new camera. It has a zoom lens and I have always wanted one! I am excited to start watching tutorial videos so that I can be familiar with my new camera and learn the details of how to take truly amazing photos.

As I mentioned last week, I am embarking on a new journey and one that means a great deal to me.  I have started testing my recipes and will add tips, adjust ingredients and measurements where needed and of course, shoot new photos. The book will be in color and will have a picture of each dish after preparation is complete. My middle child has encouraged this project and cooks from my blog often, so he has offered to test each recipe and add suggestions for tips and directions. I loved working on the poetry book and now am excited for this new adventure.

Yesterday I made sambusa or cheese pillows as my mother nicknamed them years ago on her annual trips to Saudi.  They are a delicious pastry, filled with a mix of ricotta, feta and mozzarella cheese. I posted my recipe on the blog a couple of years ago and instead of the traditional deep frying we opted to bake these delectable little morsels. The kids have been asking for them for months and so yesterday I rolled up my sleeves and made a double batch. This time I fried them much to everyone’s delight.

https://lynzrealcooking.com/reflections/appetizers/sambusa-cheese-pillows/

We also decorated the tree that Mom and Dad gave us as they have now chosen to scale down once again. We removed the lights, added our decorations from last year and placed our smaller tree downstairs. IMG_20181202_101320

Overall it was a quiet and relaxing weekend spent around the house reviewing pictures from Thanksgiving and preparing for the month ahead!

Happy holidays

The scooter

 

Riyadh 2000

The sound of laughter from the porch could be heard throughout the house as events of the day were discussed and dissected at the dining room table. Freshly baked cream puffs had been sent to a neighbor on a whim and had been mentioned to him during lunch at the office. This brought humiliation and shame and highlighted the lack of control he had in his own home. I sat eagerly listening, offering apologies, relieved that our conversation kept him occupied and unaware of the hodgepoge of comedy that unraveled just feet away.

Flowering plants were now in bloom and palm trees made a waving pattern over the large grass area near our home. Women walked the loop, workers delivered jugs of water in a rickety shopping cart and children played, running back and forth down the street that passed our residence. The latest gadgets and toys; pogo sticks, scooters and bikes all wound up piled near sidewalks while swimming and other play commenced. A large garbage truck chugged past pausing to collect weekly trash while laborers swept streets, trimmed bushes and maintained a well established standard of Western living.

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Compound home

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Yusuf parked the flimsy red and blue scooter on the porch, leaning it against a cement pillar. A large bolt clanked and rolled down past his shoes and onto the third step. Silence fell from oldest to youngest and each examined the place where Osama had carefully used a screwdriver, then tape and finally glue. A ringing clank had become customary as each of the seven siblings who were old enough, took their turn on the shiny vehicle and then watched bits and pieces loosen and eventually drop from porch to steps and sometimes into nearby plants.

Toys, bikes and the latest trends were seen as ridiculous, unnecessary and generally prohibited. Foof was determined to run next to her friends while they whizzed past on bikes but her brother was not so easily appeased. Gifts that did make their way into the home were usually socks, mittens or anything that would be deemed as essential. But this time it had been different and each night prior to the upcoming holiday, Osama sat in the well furnished living room of the compound debating and wrangling to obtain Riyal (Currency in Saudi Arabia) for Eid gifts.

Frustration finally gave way to jokes and eventually an unstoppable wave of laughter as handlebars made a loud and resounding crash. Red and blue parts rolled and scattered and were later scooped into a large plastic bag.

A gift

 

 

This story is about worthiness and that is something that I still struggle with today, a residual effect of domestic violence.

2014 Idaho

Tears stung my eyes and a flood of emotions seemed to make a steady barrage on my senses. I stepped outside and down the walkway marching, sighing and feeling indignant at the thought. It was hard to contain my anger and now tears fell into a steady stream until I finally sobbed.  Shame, guilt and confusion overrode my logical mind.  I felt betrayed and sickened, it was wrong and strange and there was nothing I could do about it, nothing.  I looked once again at the box that had been pushed onto the front porch and felt a tinge of calm take over. It was a fancy coffee maker complete with milk steamer and accessories.  I would find a simple and kind way to return the contents but I wasn’t sure exactly how. I had cooked for this family member that was all, it was nothing.  Why would he buy me such an expensive gift and how would I explain to myself that I was worthy.

Riyadh 2007

The kids gathered around me and held out boxes wrapped in bright colors with bows. I was shocked and unsure and saw him glance our way. They told me that they wanted to do something special for me and so they had come up with a plan that included gifts and making lunch. I continued to monitor his gestures as he sighed and gave a chuckle. I opened the package carefully removing tape and ribbons slowly, savoring each moment.  It was as if for that brief minute I was a real mom, entitled to love and affection and even gifts. I smiled and hugged each child as they clambered to smell the fragrance of this set they had personally put together. The basket containing special lotions, perfumes and body wash was organized neatly and wrapped with a pink ribbon.   A second parcel lay on the counter, a large piece of paper that had been covered with a delicate layer of tissue, topped with a tiny bow. I gently removed the outer layer and looked at the contents. A poem and picture including hearts and flowers had been written and designed by See See. I read it over silently and hugged her telling her it was perfect. The little ones grabbed my hands and drug me to the dining room where eggs and toast lay on the table.

It was a joyful day and although he skulked in the background it appeared that he had accepted this little celebration, forgetting his unwritten rule that no gifts would be given to mama.  Later that night he held the paper and words that described me as a mother, faithful, loving and amazing. He picked up parts of the gift basket and looked at each label, turning them from side to side. Finally his silence was broken and he laughed holding the paper in hand looking as if he would tear it in half. “This is who? Who? Your mother? “He laughed until he could no longer breathe and threw it down onto the bed half rumpled. “Look ya See See do not ever ever give anything to mama without my permission, NEVER!”

An offering from the box

The apartment brought with it many benefits, but like most things in life, also negatives. Not having access to regular electricity was quite a draw back. You don’t think about things until they are no longer available and of course electricity is a basic necessity and something we were used to.  I always made a mental list of the benefits that we had and in this case it was location near the school, clear windows to the outside and a clean, new place to stay. So, I kept my daily routine and tried to have fun with the kids. We laughed and joked and made forts out of the pads that were used for couches. The kids spent hours playing and for years to come, made their own games and entertainment out of little to nothing.

I received weekly letters from my parents that were a blessing, in addition to the call cabin conversations here and there. One day, like any other day he went out in hopes of finding his dream job, visited friends until the wee hours and then returned home, but also returned with a gift!  On this special day he brought with him a surprise, a box. A box with packing tape carefully wrapped around each corner, familiar letters that made my heart race. The kids gathered around and we all stood quite amazed at this new addition to the apartment. During the long, hot summer we rarely went out except for the occasional  quick trip to the mini market or a drop off at a park during prayer time, so anything new brought a great deal of excitement to our lives. It was neatly wrapped up, a brown, ordinary box, taped and sealed with a precision that could only mean one thing, Grama! Although the girls could not read they loudly and in unison shouted, GRAMA!

I told my children as they stood gazing at this treasure, let’s open it. As children do, they started tearing tape, opening flaps and quickly it stood offering up new possibilities for hours of fun during a long and hot summer. My mother as always, took care to find personal items for each child, a baby doll for Foof who was now 2  years old, a craft set for See See who had just turned 4, complete with beads and sequins and all of the glimmering things little girls love. For the baby, several outfits, toys and a baby book to record memorable milestones.The boys were thrilled to have games, books and action figures. My parents had been the sole providers of clothing for the past 5 years and so of course several outfits for each child. A pink journal, lightly scented lotions, soaps, pajamas and candy for all of us. She always thought of him and sent him nice work pants, a dress shirt and tie. This box although an ordinary cardboard box, held with it much more for all of us.

As night fell and the lights went out I promised the kids we would return to the box  in the light of day. It was hard to get them settled in for sleep because the thought of toys, games and the grandparents they had left behind were the topic of chatter for an hour or more. I gathered up the laundry for the early morning routine and placed it in the kitchen near the washer, I did dishes and anything I could before total darkness set in. I sat on the couch pad and rested in the glimmer of the light from the street lamps. I sat thinking of my mother and father and the box. Memories drifted back to summers I spent walking through our neighborhood to the community pool, riding my bike with friends and rolling down the big green summer hills in the backyard. We camped in our tent and then they bought a trailer, we made campfires, hiked to the swimming area, roasted marshmallows and then as teenagers angrily objected to these trips! It was all a blur now and he snapped me back into reality when he entered the dimly lit room. He commented on the box and how nice it was of them to send it. What a nice idea, although his pants were too long and his tie too brightly colored, but all the same, a nice thought and well received.  He sat next to me in the dark and asked me what I had received from the box, my heart sank as I knew what was next. He spoke for 10 minutes or more about the lovely gifts of perfumed lotions, soap and candy that he knew I didn’t like and never used, about a book that was over priced and a waste of time.  In the end the same result was coming, I must give up my treasures, maybe holding on to one small item if I wanted to keep my children’s gifts.  I knew the small price that had to be paid and although it was unspoken, as many things it was well known to us both.  He spoke of the children’s gifts and how impractical and expensive they were. Children in other countries were lucky to go to school, did not have clean drinking water and definitely did not have luxuries. I knew all of these things were very true and they ran through my mind daily!  When we lived in the States he would push and prod until some of these unnecessary items disappeared and were returned for grocery money. My mother’s new tactic was to be practical and patient, as she took him to the store and asked what we be good gifts for the household, of course she noticed with each visit the items she had purchased were not visible. He told me that of course these were my gifts from my parents and I should enjoy them, they were for me. But I knew from past experience this was the cue for me to say I did not care for such things and yes they were frivolous. The next day feeling secure that my children had their things and no store to return them to, I held the pink bottle, jasmine, I smelled the lotion and then quickly set it down, it was indeed a luxury, something a plain woman like myself did not need to worry about. I picked up the other gifts and put them in his room, my offering from the box and my heart.

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Three oldest kids in new apartment

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hall way to master bedroom and bathroom in the apartment

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