Tag Archives: Salem

Happy Holidays!

Our family has an ongoing tradition: we decorate the house and find any excuse to exchange gifts. This year was no different. My five year old nephew Salem anxiously awaited to rip to shreds the gift wrappings and freaked out in excitement over every single toy and book he received. I mean, just geek out at the sight of one of his favorite Avengers.

And being the birthday month for both my stepdad and I, we get extra lucky when it comes to presents. This year being my second holiday and birthday home, I totally lucked out by getting a few things off my wish list and a few gag gifts like my fresh set of Golden Girls shot glasses to add to my collection (thanks Mama!). Yep, love the girls and have seen every episode at least 10 times!

However, we all agreed that my sister Heba won with the gift giving this winter season. She made both my mom and brother cry with her freaking awesome sentimental gifts. For the record, I never win in this family but I’ll keep trying. hehehe

On Christmas Day, most of us have the weekend or at least the day off. So, as per tradition, our extended family gets together over delicious seafood thanks to my hostess with the mostess cousin, spoil the kids rotten and laugh to tears, literally.

This year, I learned that as an older auntie, I have to get my nephew a car when he turns 18. Thanks for setting that in motion to the universe my dearest cousins! hehehe

Our Muslim (and interfaith) family may not religiously celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah but what our family does celebrate year round is life, love and togetherness. So if we get a day off or a long weekend, we’ll be together. It’s as simple as that!

To all my wonderful peeps reading, may you and yours have a joyous and blessed holiday season! Here’s to the same in 2019, God Willing.

A Letter To My Nephew on His Birthday

My Dearest Salem,

I remember coming home from Qatar to see you for the first time, holding you at the airport and having you giggle rather than cry. I just can’t even explain all the emotions that rushed through me at that moment.

I praise God every day for bringing the joy that is you into my life. As I watch you grow into the smartest, funniest and cutest human, I’m in awe. I can’t believe you are already turning five years old. Where has the time gone?

On your birthday today, I want you to know a few things…

  • You are loved beyond words.
  • Your smile is contagious, keep smiling.
  • I’m extremely proud of your awesomeness.
  • You are amazing, never doubt yourself.
  • You will achieve greatness, just put your mind to it.
  • There are no stupid questions, so ask away.
  • Kindness and respect are universalĀ currencies to be splurged.
  • You can be anything you want to be when you grow up.
  • Just don’t grow up too fast, enjoy being a kid.

Happiest of birthdays to my cartoon watching buddy, my funny tickles, my little blonde monster, my beautiful nephew.

I will always love you this much times infinity!

Love, Auntie Hala
xoxoxo

A Father’s Day Reflection

Last night, I called Baba in Egypt to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. He was excited I called (because he forgot to tell me he was going to Egypt for the summer) because he had forgotten it was Father’s Day. Of course, we ended up having our usual political and religious conversation. I then spoke with my older cousin Mohamed, a father of five, whom I consider a father figure.

After all the phone calls last night between Egypt and California (my poor phone bill), I feel asleep in awe of how something as simple as a phone call can uplift someone’s spirits. I feel asleep reflecting on all the amazing fathers I know.

I had written on a similar reflection back in 2009, Praises for Fathers, the first Father’s Day after the passing of our Amuh Ibrahim.

This year, my little brother became a father for the first time to beautiful baby Salem. He has made us uncles and aunties for the first time too. And boy do we have giant footsteps to follow…

Sleeping Next to Daddy
Sleeping Next to Daddy

Baba’s relentless struggles to do all that he could for his children.

Mama’s simple amazement of being both a mother and father to her children.

The uncle’s dedication to pave a life long path for my cousins, siblings and I.

The cousin’s unity, many of whom are both fathers and uncles to amazing children of their own.

I know my siblings and I have a lot to learn from you. And for that, I thank you. I pray you all had a great day of celebration on this highlighted day of celebrating the gratitude we hold for the blessing that is you, every day.