Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Wassail, wassail all over the town

Our bread it is white and our ale it is brown
Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree
With a wassailing bowl we'll drink to thee

Come butler, come fill us a bowl of the best
And we hope that your soul in heaven may rest
But if you do draw us a bowl of the small
Then down will go Butler, bowl and all

This song crept into my head as I sat at the kitchen table with my grandma, my mom and her friend Catherine. They had just finished cleaning every inch of my kitchen (after I spent hours making it presentable for them, haha) and preparing for tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast. We're expecting between 12 and 17 people. Haj Sami's nephew Sadiq dragged in a new oven for us, since mine is broken. It was like, a tin box on wheels. You should've seen the look on my mom's face. This is what we're cooking Thanksgiving dinner in! "This is Arabic oven...." he said, good-humoredly. But soon he had a roaring fire lit and we successfully cooked an apple pie. We were also grateful for the oven's warmth.

Then we made a birthday webcam video for my dad:

Today we went shopping for Thanksgiving food. The four of us were definitely a spectacle walking around Tubas with our bags of groceries. We found ourselves traveling downstream with all the girls walking home from school, and there were a lot of "how are you's" and "what's your name"'s....and giggling. We went to two supermarkets, a butcher and a produce...market. Green grocer, as my grandmother calls it. We managed to pick up everything we needed but cinnamon sticks and brown sugar, so the apple crisp turned into a pie.

After we got back the apartment and reorganized the kitchen (I have a pantry!), Haj Sami's sister made us maklubeh. It was so good. We all ate a ton and the ladies got to lie down for a bit and digest their maklubabies while I taught my adult class...

My students made up the funniest story today. I'd like to share it:
Once upon a time, there was a very ugly man who lived in Switzerland...under the ground. He was very lonely. One day a beautiful princess knocked on his door. He was in bed when she knocked on the door, so he answered the door without his clothes. He said, don't look at my face, look at (what now?) my heart (oh...), because he has a white heart (a pure heart). Then he made her tea. She asked him "why are you living under the ground?" and he said, "it's suitable to me, and no one annoys me here." She decided to live under the ground too. They were engaged. Then, because there is so much money in Switzerland, the ugly man decided to steal from a bank....so he can have an operation to make himself beautiful. So he robbed a bank, and got the operation, then he left the princess. The princess ran away to Russia. The "ugly man" had so much money, but he decided that he wasn't happy, because he knew in his heart the feeling wasn't right, so he went back to his home underground. one day the police knocked on his door. they wanted to make an investigation for him, because of the bank robbery. but he did not confess his crime, and they did not find him guilty. seven days later, on a sunny day, he was walking down the street and he saw a man who had no money. so he employed the man. the employee worked for him for a long time, and he loved him because he had a good heart. They made a lot of money and the employee gave him his daughter to marry. The ugly man and his wife lived together in happiness, and had a girl and a boy. But their children were very ugly. The wife asked him, "why are our children ugly?" and he told her the truth, that he lived underground, and he robbed the bank, and he showed his old home to his wife and his children. and then his employee, because he loved him, helped him pay back all the money to the police, and they all lived happily. until an earthquake came, and because their house was underground, they all died. except the son, who made a restaurant on top of the old house called the "ugly man" restaurant.

That was a fun class.

It's so strangely wonderful having my mom and grandmother here. These two worlds had only been connected in my imagination, and suddenly they were standing outside in the rain with Haj Sami and their bags. They brought me a backpack full of things from home, scarves, fuzzy socks, snowflake decorations, chocolate, celery salt (for the stuffing...), guitar strings, books for the kids...it's all laid out in my room, perfectly organized. Now my apartment is clean and our schedule is documented on the whiteboard, and my mom is rearranging furniture and making shopping lists for lamps and curtain rods. These women will leave this apartment a far better place.

A few times I stopped and thought, "we're just four women cleaning a kitchen and making an apple pie....in Palestine...."

It's a trip.

While we were sitting around the kitchen table (which, yesterday, was a cluttered, oil-stained table by the stove), I smelled the apple pie and the vanilla-scented candle and heard my grandmother's voice and started thinking of Christmas. Wassail, Wassail by Mannheim Steamroller, then the words came trickling in from three years of high school choir...could we throw a Medieval Feaste....

And here's to the maid in the lily-white smock
Who tripped to the door and pulled back the lock
Who tripped to the door and pulled back the pin
For to let these jolly wassailers in....