It’s that time of year again… preparations for Ramadan. No, I’m not talking about redecorating the house, painting the walls, tossing last year’s dishes and pots to buy new ones. I’m not even talking about filling the freezer with dough, chopped parsley, home-made tomato sauce and grated cheese. I’m talking about the mental preparation.
Last year we had been in the same place for three years in a row, a record for this family! This year will be a bit different. Different place, different circumstance, different people. We’re still far from family, and that’s the biggest issue on holidays, but maybe it’ll be easier this time around. Why? Well… this year we have to work harder to make it meaningful. Every time it’s a new playing field, a new strategy. We do the best with what we’ve got, and since what we’ve got to work with changes all the time, we must adjust, every time.
Can’t complain. At least we’re not in the middle of a war zone. No unexpected power cuts. No holds on pay. No endless lineups for gas. Water is readily available, and food isn’t too expensive. The last few Ramadans have been fairly predictable, compared to previous years, and compared to what some of our dearest friends and relatives’ have to endure. It would be an insult to their hardships for me to complain about my own challenges. So I won’t.
Part of the excitement of being me is that I get to shed stuff a lot, I get to accumulate new things, and then I get to gift them. I get to see new faces, make new acquaintances, explore new environments, buy new clothes, new books, make new art. The kids grow out of things anyhow, but they have had to give up some things as well. We can get attached to stuff, especially if we spent a lot of time with it, if it reminds us of important moments, of fun times that we wish we’d never forget, but we’ve found that there is always something else that will remind us; we don’t physically have to own something for us to be brought back to the memory of it. So this year, I want to build on this lesson. This time I want to be prepared. I must start now to dig a new foundation on which to build this Ramadan.
Although I feel tired, a bit drained, I intellectually know it must be done. I do believe that my children are old enough to grasp this level of depth, so I am willing to attempt it. I realize that I’ve been relying too heavily on non-transferrable reminders. The fatigue I feel might be coming from using too many crutches. This time I must attempt a non-structural approach. One built on ideas, not physicalities. One built on mental and emotional connections, not schedules and crafts. And maybe that’s why I’m starting from now, two months before Ramadan, to prepare myself mentally for it.
This year, I hope to be able to make a new routine that we can carry over to the next place. One that we won’t have to leave behind when we move again. Because change has been our constant, I hope to establish something that can be built upon from the inside, carrying meaning to whatever else goes on around us. I hope to establish a Ramadan that is lived fully, in our hearts, minds, and souls, so that it will travel with us, no matter where we go next.