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Deck the halls with Hengameh
With Las Vegas, it seems Iranians have really gone above and beyond the now commercial holiday spirit



December 11, 2006

Growing up in America, I held a deep affection for Christmas. Here was a holiday that meant vacation, presents and candy. People were cheerful and decorated their houses with tiny lights to welcome a jolly man bearing presents in the night. It was like Halloween on LSD!

As I grew up, and attended catholic school, I understood what all the celebration was really about. Like most things, as time got on, it wasn't as cool anymore.

When my grandmother came to visit us when I was in 7th grade, I made sure to show her the White House Christmas tree and buy her candy canes. And like most visitors from Iran, she was eager to see the usual hot spots like Tyson's Corner and Georgetown. The sales were wild and so were the Christmas shoppers.

While there was a serious over-commercialization of the holiday spirit taking place, the faithful armies of Iranians and East Asians hunting for discounted merchandise at Macy's and other department stores didn't mind. They were inspired.

Fast forward ten years. While I won't attribute this to any census report, there is a record number of Iranians in the United States. Iranians are no longer impressed with twelve nights of gift giving and taking.

Two months ago, I had the opportunity to visit my grandmother in Iran, and when I was leaving, I explained to her that when I got back, Iranians would be making their Christmas plans. She figured I meant they'd be emptying their trunks to fit shopping bags. Madarjoon was surprised to learn what Iranians are up to these days during "the most wonderful time of the year." I explained to her that the armies that once invaded Tyson's Corner and Fashion Island took to the adult playground known as Las Vegas.

Let me preface what I'm about to say by informing you that I have never experienced the "heaven" so many Iranians have boasted about. Hearsay accounts have provided me with the following description that explains it all. "Vegas has everything, and more. It's so much fun." I figure they are referring to ample bosom bars, Gucci, all you can eat buffets, clubs, spas, blackjack and HENGAMEH et alia in concert. What could be better? 

My ex-boyfriend actually traveled there with his family. I can't really imagine the Vegas experience with my mom, but then again, it is the city with everything, and more. There is cirque de soleil and famous restaurants. Vegas has really evolved since "Swingers."

If there's one thing we can always count on when it comes to Iranians, it would have to be "taking it to the next level." I know many Catholics who are critical of the commercial nature of Christmas. But with Vegas, it seems Iranians have really gone above and beyond the now commercial holiday spirit. If someone told the Pope that Iranians have made Las Vegas, sin city, the Iranian Christmas tradition, I wonder whether he would attribute it to an evil Islamic influence. Well, if I were the messenger, I would tell him that it's really because Iranians don't settle for a mediocre celebration.

Socrates said that beauty should never be judged by hearsay. Based on what I've been told, Iranians have found a beautiful thing in Vegas and for years now, I've seen Tapesh broadcasting from the Bellagio with live information about Black Cats, Andy and Dariush with the fervor they demonstrated with their Bam earthquake coverage. It only makes sense that that people are making the pilgrimage each year to experience this Iranian tradition.

Thinking back to how I viewed Christmas as a little immigrant girl from Iran, I wonder how Iranian kiddies see it now since many of them have Tapesh and family and friends who do Vegas each year. I don't suppose it matters much, since Christmas isn't an Iranian holiday anyway, unless you stop to consider how Iranians have made a Christmas of their own. But calling it Christmas would be sacrilegious. This holiday requires another name and one that has no reference to Christ.

Since I find the whole affair tacky, (apologies, Socrates) I won't bother giving it a name. But I'm sure that ten years from now, it won't matter because Iranians will have found a grander way to celebrate the holidays. If Anousheh Ansari is any indication of what's in store, we might be playing poker on the moon with Hengameh singing in a space suit. Comment

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