COLUMBIA — About noon on Friday, 1-year-old Layla Mahir watched curiously from the house as her mother, Shehla Mahir, swept snow from the family car. She was on her way to buy snow boots for her children so they could play outside; they already have the rest of their snow clothes.
The afternoon plan for Layla and her sisters, 6-year-old Ghada and 9-year-old Maha, included making a snowman.
Their father, Zaid Mahir, said jokingly that his colleagues at MU, where he is a graduate instructor in English and Arabic, might correct him to make the snowman gender-neutral.
“But we can make a snowgirl, a snowboy or snowpuppies," Mahir said. "What’s the point? It’s all about being happy.”
Mahir said he thinks his daughters should not miss experiencing the snow. "I mean, watching is nice, but watching isn’t part of the event," he said. "To be part of the event, you need to be a player.”
Mahir came to Columbia from Iraq in 2005; his family joined him the next year. As Muslims, the Mahir family isn't celebrating Christmas as a religious holiday. But they have a small tree bedecked with ribbons and stars on the living room table at their central Columbia home. Whether or not the girls get gifts, they have wish lists.
“I want a laptop,” Maha said. “Because my friend has one.”
Her father reminded her she got a camera for her birthday four days ago. “She is definitely going to take pictures for our snow play this afternoon, aren’t you, Maha?” he said.
Maha had her own reality check, saying she didn't think she would get a laptop on Saturday, "because Santa isn’t real and reindeer don’t really fly.”
Ghada wants a telephone. She also wants a room to herself.
Ghada spoke for Layla, the littlest Mahir, saying, “I bet Layla wants to reach the door handle so she can finally go out by herself.”