Weekly post: What is a thobe to me

On an aesthetic level, it is beautifully patterned needlework on a dress that is in the same moment practical but fancy. My fantastical side wants a story for each thobe, and I am supremely confident there is one for each. There is such a weight of sentiment in giving, receiving and wearing them. Like most cultural dress, there is a feeling of belonging when you slip into the clothes that hold meaning in their colors and threads.

Personally, I have two such dresses that I have held for long enough to have stories. They are now lovingly stored away as I can no longer fit in them. Part of their value is because they were gifts from my Tata (Palestinian for grandmother). I don’t know if she put as much sentiment into picking out these thobes for me as I imagine. But I would like to think she did. She was a woman who learned English through watching the Bold and the Beautiful and then honed her skill by watching 24. People remember her as a stubborn and dramatic woman, that is how most intelligent and strong women are remembered.

She passed away when I was seventeen and I received my last thobe from her four years prior when I visited her. Tata knew I liked things that were handmade, and she told me it was, but the tags hinted at it being machine made. At thirteen, I had the capacity for angst and readily absorbed and held onto the fact that I might have been lied to. It is now a sweeter memory to remember that she knew that I loved a story and she gave me one. It can be argued that the weave is tighter and sturdier, the thobe will not fall apart anytime soon. When I have my own daughters, I imagine I will pass this down to them as handmade and treasured. When and If they accidentally ruin it, I will only let them wallow in guilt long enough to inspire them to take up Tatreez. Afterall, I am still waiting on my handmade thobe.   

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