Ramadan-Food for thought

IMG_0150My husband is Muslim. I’m not. We accept and love each other anyways. It’s a non-issue in our house. We celebrate Muslim holidays, Christian holidays, and cultural holidays together as one.

My husband fasts. I don’t. Or I didn’t this year. For those that don’t know, it’s a holiday that does not have a fixed date. It changes based on lunar cycles and lasts for about a month. Each year the dates shift about ten days earlier on the calendar than the year before. When I was first married, we celebrated Ramadan in December. This year, it’s in the middle of summer. That means an even longer day of fasting. It lasts from sunrise to sunset and there is no eating or drinking.

Sound crazy? It’s not. But fasting is crazy hard. That’s why, this year, I have opted not to fast. I’m a wimp. I admit it. But here’s what I love about the holiday:

  • My husband becomes more focused. Yes he gets cranky when he’s hungry or thirsty, but who wouldn’t. He centers himself around prayer and making sure he is home for dinner (or breakfast in this case) and focuses on his family, work, and food. Lots of food.
  • Dinner with friends and family becomes almost a daily experience. It’s hard, on a regular basis, to get a busy family to the dinner table at the same time. But during Ramadan, everyone eats together. Friends come by to eat. Invites to other’s homes abound. The family table becomes the friendly table. Grab a stool, claim a corner of the table, and dig in. Everyone is welcome. No invitation is required. There’s enough food for everyone and anyone who drops by.
  • It’s healthy in ways you wouldn’t think of. Fasting is a way to detox from alcohol and other bad habits. Instead of going out for drinks, for fun we sit and play cards, board games with the kids, swim, or engage in other family appropriate activities which only provides more quality time with the kids.
  • The TV is awesome. In Morocco, where my husband is from, every Ramadan the people become engrossed in the new mini-series that airs especially during the month of Ramadan. Like Spanish novellas, these are addictive. I wait every day for my husband to turn on the latest episode of Waadi to see if Mina will finally get together with Ali. Usually, while my husband is watching Arabic channels after kicking my son off Cartoon Network, I’m busy working at my laptop. But I’m telling you, these story writers really know how to keep you hooked and waiting for the HEA.

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My eleven year old son is fasting for the first time this year. Most days he eats earlier than my husband, which is just fine since this is his first attempt and since the fast doesn’t break until 8:35pm. But today he went the whole day and broke his fast with his dad. We let him manage it himself. If he says he’s thirsty and needs a drink, then he drinks. Same with food, because let’s face it: he’s still a kid. But as long as he’s busy playing with his friends or with his video games, he doesn’t think about food most days until around 5pm. Of course, he is also sleeping late every day because he stays up with his dad late at night. It’s summer. Who cares.

I see my husband (sometimes I don’t because I’m fast asleep) wake up at 3:30am to go to work so he’ll be home in the afternoon to relax. Yet, I get home from my job at 6:30pm and he’s already making dinner (aka breakfast.) I’m very proud of him; of how hard he works, how much attention he gives our family. We are very blessed in our mixed faith home.

Sometimes things are completely different than they appear. Ramadan seems like such an extreme holiday to an outsider. They don’t understand how anyone could enjoy going without food and water all day long. Sounds more like a punishment to most. But it’s a reminder of those that go hungry around the world. It’s a time to pray and reflect on the important things in life. The holiday teaches generosity and kindness. It teaches us to be grateful for the food on our table. We take so many things for granted as a society and stress about so many things on a daily basis that are really insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Maybe all we really need to be happy is a good meal with friends and family. Something to think about.

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