We have been celebrating like crazy over here! It is unusual for Ayyam'i'Ha to fall completely within the middle of the week, but that is just what happened this year. It means squeezing in all of our celebrating between getting home from school and going to bed, but we somehow manage. Imagine that.
One of the things about being a Baha'i is that there really aren't set traditions or any sort of ceremony attached to our holidays. In some ways this is quite challenging as it calls for a lot of creativity on our part. But mostly, it is very freeing as it means we can express our joy in whatever way we choose. So here is a partially documented round-up of what we did this year in our family:
We participated in a community-wide celebration. The children's class made gifts for everyone (origami boxes with special treats inside), sang songs, organized an "international" potluck, and performed a play for everyone.
The children took in (tons of) cookies to thank the teachers and staff at their school.
We also sent cookies to Grandma's co-workers and for Grandpa to pass out as a thank you to all of his nurses and care-givers.
We helped organize/participated in another children's class party that was based around acts of service and making gifts for them to give in that community.
We are going to do a big shop and donation of the most needed items for our local food bank. We haven't been able to do that yet, so we will this weekend.
All of these things took place in the wider community, and I sadly failed to photograph any of them.
However, we also did a lot of things at home, and I did a better job at documenting these things.
We had special foods: teas (with piles of cookies and pomegranates) and dinners(wild mushroom pasta and seafood dinner with crackers and takeout Chinese and pot roast) and cereal for breakfast (honey nut cheerios!) and treats in lunchboxes (pumpernickel bread! ha!).
This is our time for gift-giving, so of course there was lots of that as well. We do try to keep it fairly simple with one day reserved for gifts from family, one when the children give their gifts, one for books (which I ordered from the UK and arrived in a Royal Mail bag-- how fun is that?), and one for our gifts to the children.
It was very sweet to see the time, thought and effort the children spent on these gifts. The girls gave Asher lego in a cigar box with a plate glued to the top as a travel case, Asher (with a bit of help from me) gave them covered hot water bottles and hair pins, and Ana made me this stunning barn swallow print and stamp.
We do try not to give the books until nearer to the end, though, as once they are opened everyone disappears:
Everybody's favourite part, however, is working through the various tasks and clues we give them before they can get to their gifts. Here are some of the highlights from this year:
We put scrambled letters that spelled out the title of a song in practice golf balls. We then put the balls in an empty tissue box, tied it to a child, and they had to shake the balls out (no hands!). They had to figure out the song, whose lyrics gave them a clue as to the location of the next song title and so forth, until they eventually found their presents. For example, "i am the Walrus" led them to the egg carton in the fridge.
They really wanted to do another round of going up against Daddy with a paper bag on his head. They had to neutralize him by sticking something in his back pocket without getting caught. Of course Asher ended up getting squashed, and it all ended in tears. But they still love doing it. Don't ask me...
Overall, I have to say we've had a pretty good go of it. It makes me so happy to see my children enjoying themselves so whole-heartedly. It can be difficult to be different, but they are happy and content to be who they are, and there is no greater gift than that.