Niagara Falls, Ontario – November 20, 2015. I love traditions! In the Premji household, we certainly have our share of them. Some are old traditions, some emerging. One of our enduring traditions is having a Family Thanksgiving turkey dinner at our home. Every member of the family – from the youngest to the oldest – take turns to talk about what they are most grateful for that year. I find it so special to be witness to it.
When Sabrina was little, a tradition for a few years was when the family would get together in the basement every Friday night. Sabrina would organize events for us to participate in – chalk painting, cartoon drawing, story-telling, creating logos, tea party complete with little cups and small pastries. It was a delightful way for us to spend time together as a family, doing stuff that was often out of our comfort zone! Fast forward to today. Each time Sabrina comes home from whatever part of the world she is residing in, my mom will make her “khima biryani”, a rice dish with mincemeat, to welcome her back. It’s tradition!
My most favourite tradition of all is how we put a sign up at the door every time a family member returns home from school or vacation or a business trip. I’m not sure when this started but it is beautiful to see a note at the door welcoming you home. And this is largely unplanned. Sometimes, Nagib will stick the note on the door, sometimes my mom or my sister, or Shayne or Sabrina. And the notes are different each time – – basic and informal, computer generated, small or poster-size, with personalized art work and personal messages. Even our postman knocked on our door one day to say how much he looks forward to seeing the welcome signs!
When Shayne and Sabrina were at school, one tradition I reveled in was to take them out of school, once a month, for the afternoon. After all these years, this is something they both remember vividly – watching movies, having Greek food, playing board games. And then there is Halloween! For many years, Halloween evening was particularly special when Sabrina’s friends would come home. The meal was always spaghetti and meatballs, with make your own sundae for dessert. Everyone would dress up and we would scare all the neighbourhood children. I miss those days!
Many of our traditions happen at this time of the year.
Christmas Holidays are the best! For the longest time, in the week before Christmas, Shayne, Sabrina and I would go downtown, stop by Scotia Plaza and sing Christmas carols in the Atrium, go skating at Nathan Phillips Square, coax Nagib to leave work and then eat or watch a movie together. Sometime during the holidays, Sabrina and I will watch, “The Christmas Shoes” and cry together. And we will watch “Elf” and “Home Alone” and every other Christmas movie on TV in our pajamas. Nagib will force us to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Shayne, with a lot of fanfare, will organize a family event where we will all watch “Phantom of the Opera”. And, of course, we will all watch multiple episodes of “Mr. Bean”.
On Christmas Eve, we go downtown as a family and distribute money to all the homeless people we see on the street. And then, on Christmas Day, we get together with the extended family where we play the gift exchange game that takes every bit of strategy and cunning to get the gift bag you want, even though you have no idea what is in the package (one year I ended up with 200 dental flosses packaged beautifully in a pink bag with exotic ribbons!). New Year’s Day tradition is about being in pajamas all day, watching College Football Bowl games, or spending time at my cousin Zein’s place from breakfast right through dinner. Watching an Indian movie and eating a ton of caramel popcorn is just part of the traditional holiday festivities.
With Shayne and Sabrina in different corners of the world, Nagib and I are making new traditions. Watching “Homeland” together and having long and lazy breakfasts out every Saturday morning are some of our newer traditions. At the first of each month, I look forward to Nagib’s new tradition where he will playfully wake me up with a “pinch and a punch, it’s the first of the month!”
Over the past few months, I have noticed that another new tradition that is emerging is one where Nagib and I go to bed earlier than usual, each with a book, Kindle or iPad in hand. We are voracious readers and now take time each night to read. Currently, Nagib’s reading the latest John Grisham novel, “The Rogue Lawyer”, and I’m reading “The Girl in the Spider’s Web”, a Lisbeth Salander novel (remember, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” ?).
Which brings us to today, November 20th. On or around November 20th each year, Nagib and
I go to Niagara Falls for our “going steady” anniversary! It was November 20, 1980 when Nagib
asked me to be his girlfriend. We celebrate this day almost as much as our wedding anniversary on May 1st. A week in Niagara Falls was the best we could afford back then.
And while we are there, we are sure to visit the Burger King on Lundy’s Lane, where we had our first meal together as husband and wife. Why? Because it’s tradition.
Happy Anniversary — my love.