Staring down at the glossy red ceramic platter in my hands, I wonder how a crispy stuffed bird or succulent medallions of braised meat will look against the lipstick red. Perhaps the antique white platter with the retro holly pattern will better serve my culinary masterpieces. The white one is actually already sitting in my cart. Admittedly, I am trying to justify getting both platters.
My frivolous concentration is interrupted by the joyful exclamation of a small boy riding by me in a cart with his baby sister sleeping in her car seat in the basket.
“Mommy, mommy! It’s Mary, it’s Mary!”
I glance over and give him a big smile. I’m not Mary, but I know why he thinks I am. The first couple of times I was mistaken for Mary were awkward moments. Even though I do resemble her somewhat, I was caught off guard, as are all the mommies whose children make this innocent mistake.
Today the little boy continues to try to get his Mommy’s attention, but she hurries down the isle without acknowledging either of us and they are quickly out sight, just as fast as the first time a child called me “Mary.”
Here, amongst the pine and pumpkin pie scented candles and plastic mistletoe, the boy was genuinely delighted to see Mary, too. He’s probably been seeing Mary a lot lately. She is popping up on people’s lawns and in pageants around town. She is even featured in the Oriental Trading Company catalog, surrounded by inflatable palms and stable animals. Like the little girl models in the catalog, I too cover my hair with a scarf. I am a Muslim woman that wears a hijab. Here under the soft department store lights that are somehow supposed to encourage rampant spending, I look a bit like the iconic Virgin Mary in the baroque style.
Really, I think I’m too old to look like Mary, but that just makes his comment all the more complimentary. Even if just a comparison in looks, I feel an immense honor to be mistaken for the mother of a great prophet. Isa or Jesus in the Christian tradition is also a prophet to Muslims. His mother Mariam (Mary) is revered as one of the four best women in paradise and the Quran has entire chapter written for her.
Loading my bags into my minivan, I realize that I still have a great big grin on my face. It will stay with me all day.