As the years pass, and I learn more and more about myself, I’ve come to understand that one of the things that makes me feel most like me, is connecting with others. I crave connection and community and I’m happy that over the years, Ramadan has become a time that allows me to feed those needs.
I’ve also come to understand that gift-giving is one of my love languages and giving people gifts makes me happy.
Originally, I was hoping to cook/bake something with H and share it with our neighbours but the logistics involved with that while meeting the needs of a busy young toddler seemed daunting. Instead, I opted for purchasing something that I hoped would be meaningful.
I had similar intentions last year but opted for making these DIY soup jars.
I love supporting small-businesses and local businesses, and really respect people who pursue their entrepreneurial dreams without waiting around for someone else to help them. So this year, I was happy to think up something that could foster the intersection of these three areas.
I decided I wanted to share gifts with our neighbours, teachers and some of our non-Muslim friends and co-workers this Ramadan, not only as a way to share some information, but to sincerely show appreciation for the beautiful people that have become my village. Our family sat down together and we figured out that we needed to make 23 gifts.
I decided to include products from two Canadian-based businesses that were founded by Syrian refugees. The first was Alberta-based Aleppo Savon (who I blogged about here) and the second was Nova Scotia-based Peace by Chocolate. I was intrigued by their stories and really admired their courage and contribution to Canadian society.
H and I went to the Aleppo Savon soap factory in person and bought a variety of scented soaps. I knew we would be wrapping them individually. As for the chocolate, ultimately, I decided on ordering the chocolate bars because of their clever marketing! The bars have labels that say “Peace” in various languages and include a pronunciation guide and the name of the language. Plus, there was free shipping on orders over $100!
We did end up ordering a box of mixed chocolate for ourselves.
H helped me decide who would receive which soap flavour and chocolate bar. She helped me punch holes in the bags, and glue on the beautiful labels that we downloaded for free from Sweet Fajr. She helped me measure and cut the twine to wrap the soaps and tie off the bags.
Along with the soap and chocolate, we included some information about the businesses and their stories. The staff at these organizations were very open and helpful and provided us with the information in PDF versions (Aleppo Savon Story (1) PbC Story). We also had a handout explaining Ramadan, which we modified for our purposes, from Waafia. Here is the direct link to their notecards. The header was also taken from Sweet Fajr and altered to better fit the space.
H was very excited to distribute the gifts to her neighbours, teachers and coaches, aunties and uncles and even the mailman!
I was excited about how this year’s gift came together- I drew on so many different people and their skills to make it possible and that reinforced the idea of community for me. If you have a moment, please check out their websites (I’ve linked them where applicable).
I wonder what we will come up with next year…