Tag Archives: childhood

A Gift in a Shoebox

Eager faces, dim smiles, waiting, with eyes focused on two huge boxes placed in-front of the green board. Until the moment, the teacher says, “one by one you can come and pick one”.

The drift of the tiny creatures, start moving one by one; boys on one side picking a gift box from the huge box and the girls on the other side. In couple of moments all the kids are back in their seats, all the kids are now holding tight to different shapes of gift boxes wrapped in different colors. The excitement on the faces rises and the time seems to stop until the last school bell rings before the Christmas vacation and the flow of kids leaving the school with happy faces as they carry gifts back home.

Toys and ornaments in shoeboxes sent overseas to those kids who are unfortunate in this world. Unfortunate in the eyes of strangers just for the fact of being born in this side of the world, in non-European and non-American countries. While those same kids were considered prestigious to their surrounding and fortunate to be going to this fancy school. Standards change and the same kids are vulnerable for some and prestigious for others.

Those kids enjoyed the small toys shipped to them in shoe boxes, read the letters inside and sometimes a photo came along from kids their age, or elderly, and religious people. Little did they know that they are the vulnerable group in this time of the year and those gifts are merely humanitarian gestures. Those kids, us, grew up and provides the same assistance for others, we are not the vulnerable in our own eyes and there are more unfortunate kids out there than us and those gifts were just an addition to the pile of toys. Toys to brag to the neighborhood kids about.

We grow, we see, we sense, we suffer the cruelty of this world, we try, we realize we were the vulnerable kids at some point, we fight for little change, but what can one do in so much cruelty, a smile drown on kids face for a day, sharing of the suffer of one day and then going back to a warm bed and safe home. 

We enjoy the holiday seasons, and those happy final days of the year, enjoy the last moments of the year. However, the hardest part is when the last of the year, is the last day of someone’s life. The last month of the year had turned into accumulation of memories and loss. 

Are we in denial mode? Are we the vulnerable ones? Are we born vulnerable? Are we made vulnerable? 

Whatever the answer is, back in the days, a wrapped shoebox always brought; happiness to our hearts and smiles to our faces, as we innocently accepted it without knowing that we are the vulnerable ones. In those days, our end of the year had become a box of memories, of passed faces, of feelings, of love, of heartache, and sensations. 

Pleasant Remembrances


It is 2015, few days ago I turned 23 and now I’m working as an English Teacher. Teaching was never among my future plans, I never thought of being a teacher, I could never imagine myself as a teacher, but that’s how it went. In a weird way being at school campus and among kids, I was somehow driven back to my own childhood, to my own schooldays.


I’m the 4th among my siblings, the youngest, and the one who they all worry about and take care of. I remember my kindergarten years, where Mom used to drop us (Ahmad, Hikmat and I) on the front door of the school, Ahmad would hold my hand and walk me to class. I remember him checking on me during the day and somehow I can remember the faces of his friends who used to be with him.


It was by time, Ahmad was no longer attending school with us, I don’t remember how old I was, I only remember being really young. I used to wakeup really early in the morning, escape from my sister’s side, to get ready to school. I used to walk in and out my brothers’ room, until I notice my elder brother, my Ahmouda, barely opening his eyes. There it was my moment, it was my sign to run to his side and print a kiss on his cheek. Well I know he would be annoyed by me going in and out to his room, but that simple gesture of mine made him forget all about it.


It was one of those rainy Saturdays; I’m in the car with my Mom, looking out the window in search for my sister (Sahar). My sister used to attend a different school than ours, so usually she had school on Saturday, which gave me the chance to accompany my Mom to go pick her up.

Where is she? Is she here yet? What’s taking her so long? Besides endless questions of mine that Mom had to bear as we wait for Sahar. I used to look out through the foggy window searching among the girls, in ugly navy & blue uniform, to find the redhead we were waiting for.


It was summer 2001, the summer that changed our life forever. That summer my brother Ahmouda travelled to USA to follow his dreams. That summer Sahar finished high school and was ready to start a new journey at university and had to move to Beirut.

The four siblings are now two, I was in fourth grade and Hikmat in fifth; Mom was no longer the one driving us to school, we had to take the bus with other kids. There at that time, I started my daily struggle of waking Hikmat up in the morning, and of course he was never ready on time before the bus’s arrival.


The years that followed Ahmouda’s travel, always missed something, the laughs, the smiles and joy were incomplete; unless we could catch a letter or a phone call (communication means years back weren’t as easy as now).

Weekends were the best, with Sahar coming home; she filled a little bit of the gap with the joy and laughs she added to the house. Until she was overwhelmed with her two universities and work; which forced her to visit during the weekdays while Hikmat and I were at school.


On my birthday after Ahmouda’s travel he sent me an E-Card which Sahar printed out for me. I remember the overwhelming delight I felt, this simple card meant the world to me I hung it on my closet, and still have it till now. Just looking at it drew a smile on my face.

On the other hand Sahar’s visits while we were at school would leave a trace represented by gifts, as bags of candies and chocolate hidden in my room.


Not long after he left, Ahmouda got married; and a new member was added to our small family “Ericka”. And before I knew it, I became an aunt to an incredible pretty smart niece “Nadine”.

Well I’m not exaggerating when I say; she is the smartest kid you’ll ever meet!


It was 2009, on a cold winter night, when Hikmat received a phone call, he spoke ambiguously with someone. He refused to explain what’s going on; he just asked us to wait; an hour later the door bell rang. When the door was opened, the most adorable tiny creature walked in, a small puppy. That’s how we welcomed Fluffy to our family.


Our house was a daily stop for Hikmat’s friends who filled it with noise and laughter. On weekends they would all gather at our place till late hours chatting, laughing and filling the place with their weird stories.


Years passed quickly and I found myself in a big house, with only Mom and Fluffy. Hikmat being older than me had to join Sahar in Beirut, while I stayed back to finish my senior year.

This was somehow one of the worst years in my life, with Dad being in Saudi Arabia, Ahmouda in USA, Sahar and Hikmat in Beirut, while I was left behind with Mom. I somehow experienced the life of an only child, which was honestly awful.


Now, we are all together, well except for Dad and Ahmouda, although each one of us works on a different schedule and is taking a different trail, at least we sleep under the same roof at night.


Number four has in some weird way chosen me, I’m the fourth among my siblings, I was at 4th grade when a major change in my life occurred, and my first fulltime job is a 4th grade teacher.

No matter how old you get, no matter where life takes you, the moments you spent with your family will always be curved inside you and will always influence who you are now and at this moment.