Arabic in the sand for "Happy Birthday UAE."

In New York, once I had kids, I tried to ignore the 4th of July. To me the 4th meant crowds, heat, and noise: too many people jammed along whichever river was the site of the fireworks, too many picnickers having too much to drink; and too much general mayhem for comfort: call me crazy, but the idea of teen-agers roaming the streets brandishing small explosive devices doesn’t seem particularly festive.

Once or twice when the boys were young, we braved the crowds, shoving the stroller ahead of us like a battering ram through the throngs. But in the long run? Not worth it.

What else I don’t do on the 4th? I don’t wear flag colors (I’m a New Yorker. We wear black. Year-round. It’s an entire city filled with women who dress like Morticia and Wednesday). (more…)

Mannahattamamma (UAE)

After twenty-plus years in Manhattan, Deborah Quinn and her family moved to Abu Dhabi (in the United Arab Emirates), where she spends a great deal of time driving her sons back and forth to soccer practice. She writes about travel, politics, feminism, education, and the absurdities of living in a place where temperatures regularly go above 110F.
Deborah can also be found on her blog, Mannahattamamma.

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A Japanese Mother’s New Traditions

Japanese Toy CatalogueToy magazines are popping up in the mail almost everyday. As soon as my youngest son learns that a new one has arrived, he goes through every page so diligently, devouring detail upon detail. When he finally returns them to the pile at the corner of my kitchen, his fingerprints are on every page.  The important pages are bent, and some items are marked. It’s plain to see that the holidays are coming soon….

And, I am looking forward to them. Maybe it’s because my children are going to be off from school—I can sleep in with them. Or maybe it’s because I am still new to the whole beautiful idea of the holidays in the United States.

Growing up in Japan, I did not celebrate Christmas as a child. Though my family is Catholic, and we always attended mass on the night of Christmas Eve, there was no family feast or exhilarating exchanging of gifts. Besides, school was still open on the morning of Christmas Eve. It wasn’t that surprising, considering we would go to school six days a week in Japan.