Five Things My Iranian Parents Gave Me, And How I Interpret Them

As the years pass by and my family and I settle into our newfound American life, I start to get to know my parents better. Immigration gifted us a bond, perhaps, a trauma bond, but one that I didn’t have before. My parents don’t have that many heart-to-heart conversations with me, but they talk through the things they give me. Here are some of my favorite ones, and how I interpret them: 

Half a block of cheese wrapped in cellophane

“We couldn’t eat the whole thing, and it was so good we just couldn’t stomach the fact that you weren’t there to try it with us, so here you go, put it in a bag, and in a tupperware, then in a backpack to get to a bus, and a train, and finally back to New York to throw it in your fridge. We’d never throw it out. This would be an unforgivable mistake that probably makes our ancestors shake in their graves. You should think about that too if you ever decided to just toss it in the garbage. You can keep the tupperware by the way because our willingness to mismatch the set for you touches something deep in your heart.”

A twin-size blanket, part of a pack of two, but the other one is missing: 

“Do you remember when you were dating that white boy and decided to live with him too? We brought that as a housewarming gift but only because we all had a hard time believing that we raised a slut. You said a one-bedroom was all you could afford, and we do want to believe you. Was it cheaper to buy a queen size bed too? We told you we liked him and we saw that made you feel relieved. So we just decided to keep to ourselves and talk behind your back all the way home. Then, once in a while we thought about it and lost sleep. Now, that was 3 years ago and things have changed since then, but you’re holding onto it because this reminds you to never ever again trust a white boy.“

A black mini dress that looks vaguely familiar

“We found this on our last trip to Iran and we just had to bring it for you! It looks a little small but you should try it. We are dying to give you some advice about working out more regularly and maybe changing your diet. We might also not bother with suggesting solutions but just pointing out the problem, and then acting very surprised when you act like you’re bothered by it. Ok, one solution might be to call your aunt sometimes, she will have so much to say about how you look from that closeup double chin  she sees on Facetime,  you will fit right back into the dress in no time.”

An extensive set of silverware, including 3 types of ladles and 4 different spoon sizes: 

“We bought this for you when you were seven to give it to you as a gift when you get married. But, you decided to move out and get your fancy apartment that quite frankly, is not fancy at all. What kind of place doesn’t have an extra meticulously cleaned, unnecessarily extravagant living room that you only open to special guests? Or not even fit a dining table? We even had to hide five of the butter knives in the carry-on to get rid of the overweight fees. Bottom line, our reputation is on the line in front of your guests. Besides, imagining you using those flimsy Walmart spoons is just sad.”

A comically large bottle of tequila

“It was truly difficult to move to a new country and get used to it. We sometimes wonder if it was all worth it. We miss our old place and the neighbors but then there is Costco! With a small annual membership, you can walk around the aisles filled with huge rotisserie chickens, 20 different types of granola bars, and an impressive collection of liquor. And what makes a better new year gift than a top-shelf bottle of Costco tequila? You get quality and quantity. It’s cool if you drink with or without us but it is mandatory to take at least three together. Yes! We are the cool parents now because just like how we’re lowkey enjoying the American consumption, we are warming up to the western approach to parenting.” 

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