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Good Friday

On Good Friday, Mama and Auntie Karineh made choereg. They braided the little loaves as the sunlight streamed through the kitchen window, bouncing off the blue and yellow tiles to light their faces. Lily sat on one of the leather-covered bar stools, watching them with her dark eyebrows furrowed. The smell of meat and spices and nearly-baked pastries threatened to take her back to the mythical homeland she had never seen, but she fought it. With all her ten-year-old strength, she fought to stay grounded in America, in her world of pizza and fourth grade and North Face fleeces. She got up reluctantly when her mother asked her to get the black caraway from the pantry.

    Lily spoke barely above a whisper as she padded towards the pantry in her pink bunny socks. “None of my friends make choereg.”

    Aunt Karineh looked at her sister. Anahit sighed and turned to her daughter.

    "Your grandpa Ara,” she said, "Was a genocide survivor."

    Lily remembered grandpa Ara. He had died when she was four, but she held on to bits and pieces of his memory. The smell of spices and cigars and Armenian brandy. His white beard and silver cross pendant. And one word. “Hayaghjik.”

    As Mama began to tell her story, Lily couldn't help being pulled back in time, to a two-story house with intricate Armenian rugs on every floor. A family of five eating lavash, the traditional Armenian flatbread, before their Good Friday dinner. An ominous clamor outside brought Tamar to the four-paned front window. She looked outside, then back at her husband. The fear jumped from Artur to his son Ara, to Suzanna and little Nune like an electric charge.

"What is it?" Artur asked.

Tamar couldn't get past the knot in her throat to answer, but her husband already knew. They had thought about making plans for months now, but with the slow-footed reluctance of people who couldn’t imagine needing them, they hadn't made any.

Artur got up. "Out the back door," he said. "Now."

Tamar's maternal reflexes kicked in as she grabbed a roll of lavash and her nine-year-old daughter, and ran.

Ara followed his older sister Suzanna under the apricot tree and into the field behind their house. He looked back at his his bedroom window, calling out to him from the second story. He wished he could have taken his book. He felt Suzanna’s hand pulling at his and turned back around. Neither of his parents had looked back, but it was already too late. They heard a shout from behind them.

“Ermeni!” A gruff voice shouted at them in Turkish. The soldier’s mustachioed face scowled at them. He was looking at Tamar, and Nune, who held on tightly to her mother’s hand. Ara’s eyes were glued to his little sister, but Suzanna knew what was happening, so with a choking sob she gathered her resolve and ran. Ara felt himself pulled behind her, and turned away.

They ran as fast as they could towards the orchard, their last hope. The soldier’s shouts followed them as they ran into the trees, but years of hide and seek led them to a little cave hidden by bushes and fallen tree branches. Nune’s favorite hiding spot.

Lily looked up at her mother. Anahit had fallen silent. It was Aunt Karineh who broke the silence.

“We make choereg on Good Friday to remember Tamar and Artur and little Nune, and all the hateful, angry people who made sure that they would never make choereg again. We make choereg to meet that hatred and anger with pride, and love. We make choereg because we are Armenians—we’re survivors. Understand, Hayaghjik?”

There was that word again. Hayaghjik. My Armenian girl.

Three Ways to Look at Home

  1. Feeling that wind on your face,
    And watching the leaves fall,
    While you ride your bike down the hill to your house.
  2. As you’re walking inside, you can feel the nice smell of pancakes.
    While chewing those delicious pancakes you think,
    Ahh, can there be a better feeling?
  3. Laying around in the basement laughing and running,
    You only know,
    Home Sweet Home.

Making Jokes

In the beginning, Edward was a blue and green snake who wanted to make a lot of jokes. Also, he wanted to make his family proud of him.
Edward was in 3rd grade and went to school with his butterfly friends. Their names were Amy, Nick, and Michael. It was recess, and it was a bright day. Afterschool, Amy, Nick, and Michael went to Edward’s house. Edward made a joke: “Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Chicken Chicken.”

“Chicken Chicken who?”

“Chicken Pig.”

Amy laughed, but Nick and Michael made fun of Edward. They said, “You are the pig.” Nick and Michael were being cruel to Edward. Amy was the only one being nice to Edward. The next day, they went back to school on Planet Water, where they lived. It was recess when they started being mean. Nick and Michael were really mean, throwing wood chips at Edward while they were playing tag. Afterschool, Amy wanted to go to Edward’s house, but Nick said “No” because they didn’t like Edward’s friends.

Edward made a joke, and Nick and Michael made fun of him. Edward said, “Why would you do that to me?”

Nick and Michael said, “Because you make the worst jokes.”

Edward, Nick, and Michael were at the playground by Edward’s house.

Edward said, “Please stop because I don’t want to get hurt by you.” Then Edward told the best joke he’d ever made. Everyone liked his joke.

Edward’s second joke was: “Knock, knock.”

“Who’s there?”

“Banana Banana.”

“Banana Banana who?”

“Banana Dog.”

And after that one, Amy, Nick, and Michael started laughing at Edward’s jokes.

Santa Claus vs. Bad People

It is a clear night in 2016. It is noisy and it smells like smoke from the cars. Santa Claus lives in a big, grand, beautiful house. It is made from gold and stone, it is smooth, and Santa likes every room.

Santa Claus likes to eat fish, cookies, and milk. Santa Claus likes good people the most because most good people give him food. Santa Claus does not like cooking so Santa gets food from good people. Through his magical mirror, Santa Claus sees the problem that bad people are taking over the world. So, if more and more people get bad every year, Santa will have to cook for himself.

Santa has an idea that he will give a present to all the good and bad people. The present will contain a magical spell that will turn all the people into good people. Santa Claus is so magical that he makes the present himself. Santa Claus gives the presents through his magic mirror. The bad peoples' dogs hear Santa, but Santa is safe. Santa’s workers saw Santa and they held their breath.

Once Santa got back, he told his workers, “Just remember to breathe!”

The workers said that they were worried. But Santa reassured them that he was alright, he had an invisibility cloak. The workers were amazed.

Once all the people had opened their presents, they were all good. Santa Claus was relaxed and happy and proud of himself. From then on all the people were good, and it is true that all the people alive are good people, after all.

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