A few days ago my sister mentioned that she was going to read Night of the Moon to my twin nieces’ pre-K class to share the holiday of Eid. Even though Eid currently falls smack in the middle of summer, the teacher was thoughtfully trying to be inclusive of all kids during the holiday season. My sister was going to have the students do a craft I recommended and take a special snack: halwa, a traditional Pakistani dessert made from cream of wheat.
When I was in second grade my mom had me bring an Eid treat to school: another Pakistani dessert, made with vermicelli noodles and condensed milk. Unbeknownst to me, to make it extra special, she had added fragrant rosewater. “Ewwwww! It smells like perfume!” the kids all cried in disgust. I brought back the untouched bowl, filled with shame and pretty sure my fellow second graders wanted no part of the strange holiday known as Eid.
Fast forward twenty-five years to when my son was in preschool and his older Pakistani teacher assistant asked me to come in for a class Eid party. As I excitedly walked into the church basement, the smell of frying dough and onions filled the air. Auntie was in the kitchen making pakoras, savory dumplings. And, sure enough, she had brought Pakistani sweets—green and orange squares of sweet cheese, sprinkled with nuts and decorative foil. One by one, the kids wrinkled their noses as she offered the treats. Luckily, remembering second grade, I had come armed with donut holes, which I quickly passed around amidst cheers.
“Take donut holes,” I told my sister.
“You can do that?” she asked.
“Yes. Trust me.”
My sister reported that the kids listened to the story, made paper henna hands, enjoyed their donuts and might even have gained a little understanding of what Eid is—a festive time for family, friends, and delicious foods, whatever that means to different people. In our family, that means donuts and “sweet noodles,” as my kids call them. But we make sure to leave out the rosewater.
Wishing everyone happy and delicious holidays!