Are you and your family among the tens of thousands Malaysian who are making the mass exodus to their hometowns ahead of the long Eid al-Fitr holiday?
For many, the homecoming journey may feel tedious from time to time and the whole trip can be taxing, especially if you have to spend 6 to 9 hours on a usual 2 hours road trip. But this annual tradition can be a lot more than just paying a visit to your elders. It is something you embark on year after year without hesitation, knowing that at the end of it, you will be rewarded with the warmth of having your whole family gathered together. Still, you can make your lengthy Eid holiday more meaningful for you and your family to take. Here are some ideas:
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1. Have the children make gifts for each other
Arts and crafts are the best tools for making these gifts. They are personal and save useless trips to the shopping centre. Instead of watching tv or playing with their iPads, such creative activity can keep the children engaged while tightens the bonds between the younger generation. You can have the children collect all of the odds and ends they find around the house. Then they can use these things to make strange but meaningful Eid gifts.
2. At Eid prayer, look for those who are alone and invite them over
During the Eid prayer place, where a lot of hugging goes on, you will find some standing alone. They are either new Muslims or new immigrants without relatives and friends here. Do hug and greet them. If possible, invite them over to your home for a warm meal as well. You can also choose to inform them of any planned Eid celebrations at any community centre.
3. Record Eid day events
For the time everyone wakes up in the morning till everyone conks out happily at the end of the day, record this on video or audio to make it memorable. You can also interview your family members and make a hilarious piece of family history together. You don’t need to be technologically adept to do this. There are several video apps in Androids and iOS for these occasions. We personally recommend Quik, which is rather dummy proof. If we can do it, you can do it too.
4. Wash The Car
Who wants to go to Eid prayers in a dirt-stained car filled with candy wrappers and cookie crumbs that you created from the journey back? And think about what will happen to everyone’s nice Eid clothes sitting in a vehicle like that! Get the car clean and ready and bring in everyone to help with this. One vacuum, another cleans the windows, while the third washes the exterior, etc. Turn a mundane activity into a memorable one where you can spend with your family.
5. Visit a homeless shelter or food bank and donate your extra Eid food
You can choose an orphanage, old folks home or even a homeless shelter, which are not run by Muslim. It’s your choice. You can take this opportunity to do some Dawa by telling workers at the shelter what Eid, charity in Islam is and Ramadan are about. Bring pamphlets and other written materials if you have to. The visit can help remind everyone, especially the children, what it was like when they were hungry while fasting during the months of Ramadan.
6. Share Eid with your neighbours
Make desserts or something simple that almost everyone likes and write up a short definition about Eid on a decorative card or small poster board. The children would love to help out and share the spirit of Eid with everyone.
7. Head for the open road
Drive the family into the countryside and try to get lost on some unfamiliar roads, challenging the children to help remember the way home. Of course, we also recommend to always keep your Touch N’ Go well topped up, bring your phone charger (or chargers to meet different phone models’ needs), download a GSP map and prepare some food for everyone just in case it takes longer to get back.
8. Visit relatives and friends
Especially those who are further away from where you stay. There is almost no better time than Eid. It’s also a great way to acquaint the children with their relatives near and far.
9. Make Eid evening family entertainment night
To give some twist to it, let the teenagers of the family be in charge of this event. Not only can you help them establish criteria of Halal entertainment, you can also get to know what interests them the most in the current generation. This will also translate as a form of respect to them as they can perceive it as an important task given to them.
10. Set up a family gift exchange
This is especially meaningful if you can do it before everyone leaves back to the cities. Put each family member’s name in a Kufi and have each person pull one out. Whoever picks a person’s name has to buy or make that person a gift. One catch: babies have to get gifts from everyone.