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New Year

Come on baby light my fire!
Nowrooz and The Doors in 4 episodes


March 20, 2007

I am cleaning our apartment like a maniac.  Picking up, sorting, cleaning, dusting, washing, vacuuming, all the while complaining about the fact that there is too much work and not enough time to finish my summary khooneh takooni, set the Haft-Sin, and do all that I must also do this weekend, in anticipation of the arrival of the New Year on Tuesday.  My young adult children are not home.  So, I’m talking to myself, or the broom, really.  I’m thinking whether Nowrooz is yet another thing that only matters to me in this household?  I wonder whether my children’s hearts are also leaping out, thinking about Tuesday?  Are they filled with the hope and optimism I tend to project at this time of the year?  Do they feel this change of the old year into the new, as I feel, as though I am carrying a gene thousands of years old?  Do they even care?  I make a mental note to myself to ask them.

... ... ... ... ... ...

I am driving them to work.  Before I have a chance to talk to them about my question, we have another incident interjecting itself on our conversation.  Some background first.  My kids love The Doors.  They are actually obsessed with the Doors.  They talk about the Doors, as though it is a musical group that is still around, making new music for them all the time.  In fact, as we all know, The Doors don’t exist anymore.  Their lead singer, Jim Morrison, died of suspicious causes, and the band disbanded decades ago.  As is our family tradition, when each of us wants to share a piece of music he/she loves with the other two, we play it loudly, all sit and listen, and the one promoting the music says some words about the artist, the music, or the lyrics.  Each time my children tried to tell me about a song by The Doors, I would say:  “I know that music.  I used to listen to it all the time when I was a teenager.  I owned their original LP’s and listened to them on my gramophone.”  Somehow, they are so “newly-obsessed” with The Doors, they don’t believe me.  Now, you should also know that I have my very own Doors CD, which among the eclectic collection of music I own, I sometimes play.  I had left it in the car CD player last night, when I had been giving myself a solitary audio treat.  Now, we fast forward to present.  We get in the car, and Come On Baby Light My Fire starts blasting out (yes, I listen to The Doors the only way The Doors should be listened to, on high volume).  The two of them look at me in astonishment.  They ask where that CD came from.  I tell them it’s mine.  They smile, shake their heads, and mumble “Coooool!”  We listen in companionable silence for a while.

... ... ... ... ... ...

I ask them my question about Nowrooz.  They mutter some non-committal remarks, clearly not wanting to break my heart with their response.  I ask them again.  I ask whether they feel a passion, an excitement, a fluttering in their hearts, at the thought of Nowrooz.  They listen in serious contemplation, and they say “no.”  I press forward, asking them why not.  They say because it just doesn’t do anything for them.  My younger son, the deep thinker, says that when we used to live in Iran, he was always excited around Nowrooz, not so much for Nowrooz, but for the fact that school slowed down two weeks prior, and we went to Shomal, and all the cash gifts, and such.  Living here, he says, there are no such signs of Nowrooz, so he can’t get excited about it.  Though their answer confirms my worst thoughts earlier, somehow I’m not crestfallen or disappointed.  Why not?  I am so strange, I think.

... ... ... ... ... ...

I am back to cleaning and sorting and dusting, when all of a sudden I figure it out!  All of a sudden I understand it!  In the household in which I grew up, Nowrooz was a very big deal.  From the monumental spring cleaning project, to the beautiful new clothes and shoes, to crates and crates of fresh oranges, tangerines, apples, and tiny cucumbers, to boxes of huge assortments of Shahreza Bakery’s cookies, to tons of fancy fresh-roasted nuts, to my father’s lavish eidi’s to all, Nowrooz was a big event.  As I grow older, I find that I seem to have a sharper and more vivid memory of not just Nowrooz, but of all that was my childhood and youth, of all that my parents were and did, and of all that makes up the fabric of one’s character -- education, up-bringing, failures and triumphs, memories and all.  I realize all of a sudden, that when I was 17, I, too, probably didn’t think much about Nowrooz beyond all that meant something tangible to me, such as days off from school, new clothes, or presents.  It is only in retrospect, with life going on and time passing, that I have started developing an appreciation, nostalgia, for the traditions, signs, and symbols of Nowrooz.  There is hope, therefore, that if I keep pushing forward with my Nowrooz traditions in my household, that if I continue to religiously get my Haft-sin together, doggedly looking for that gold-fish and that ready-made sabzeh, because mine didn’t get past the initial sprouting for the umpteenth year, that in time my children will look back at Nowrooz and remember good memories and their hearts, too, will flutter and get filled with the joy of this season sometime in the coming years.

... ... ... ... ... ...

Much like the music from The Doors, which I have known since I was 15 years old and now means something to my children and therefore means something new to me, there are other things that mark the way traditions, such as Nowrooz, have passed from generation to generation, from family to family, and from parents to their children to their grandchildren.  My children are going to look back and remember Nowrooz with love and joy as they grow older.  O.K.  So, love for Nowrooz is not a genetic thing, I learn, but in its being an “acquired state,” better known as a ceremony, a tradition, I have no doubt.  They will have happier Nowroozes as they grow older.  I am sure of it.  I sweep with a new gait. 

Happy New Year.  Nowroozetan Pirooz. Comment


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To Nazy Kaviani

Nazy Kaviani


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by Hamid Reza Sadr

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