While the Nowruz holiday is highly unique and memorable on its own right, I recognize that my personal appreciation of it stems from one particular experience I had with my husband on the Nowruz holiday. …
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The Nowruz holiday marks the first day of spring and the beginning of the New Year within Persian culture. The holiday itself is an ancient holiday, dating back nearly three thousand years. The holiday itself has many traditions, perhaps most notably a large-scale feast. Another specific traditional is the importance of entirely cleaning the home in a sort of ‘spring cleaning’ process. In addition to these traditions, it is important for family to visit and re-establish relationships and connections. It was in this context that my husband’s family first visited. While I had been married for over a year at the time, I had yet to meet my husband’s family. His parents lived in Iran and were not able to make it to the United States for our wedding ceremony. We had made plans to meet many times, but because of mutual complications they had been canceled time and time again. This resulted in a growing amount of anxiety over meeting my husband’s family. While my husband and I had a strong relationship and were madly in love, I was not sure how his parents would respond to me. I was only slightly familiar with Persian culture, and added to this confusion was my husband’s stories about growing up in a strict household and frequently being punished for misbehaving. With these stories in mind I had developed a perception of his family as a dark and caustic group of individuals.
My husband’s family was about to arrive. We had done a large-scale cleaning of our house and become prepared for the large Nowruz feast for the evening. As their rental car pulled into the driveway, followed by his sister’s car with her husband and children, deep dread grew in my stomach. The doorbell rang and suddenly they were inside and we were introducing ourselves to each other. While I had dreadful expectations I soon came to realize that my preconceptions were completely off-based. His family turned out to be as natural and understanding as any group of individuals I had encountered. It was not long before the group of individuals and I was sharing jokes and stories. They had arrived at noon, and at 5:00 PM we sat down to eat the traditional New Year’s meal of Sabzi Polo. While I had quickly grown fond of his family, the meal --- a collection of coriander, parsley, chives, and dill – left much to be desired. Still, the dinner was a memorable experience. Another reason my experience on this Nowruz was so memorable was because what occurred after the meal. When we finished putting the dishes away, my husband and his father settled into a television show, and his sisters’ family left for their hotel. My mother-in-law asked me to take her to the store so she could buy ice cream. On the way to the store we began to talk and I expressed to her the anxiety I had before meeting my husband’s family. I can’t recall her exact words, but she had a very welcoming way of receiving my fears. She then began to express to me how she felt before meeting her husband’s family over thirty-years earlier, and we recognized that we shared many of the same thoughts. As we pulled back into the driveway, she gave me a gift and told me to open it. Inside was a necklace that she had received from her mother-in-law – a family heirloom. She then expressed how she wanted me to have it, as she knew
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