Firoozeh and her family celebrate Thanksgiving during their time in America. Nazireh makes curry, and the extended family brings other traditional Persian dishes. The Thanksgiving feast also includes a stuffed turkey, which everyone claims to find flavorless (however, the turkey always gets eaten). Before the meal, Kazem always says he’s thankful for living in a country where he can vote, and Firoozeh gives thanks for being able to pursue her dreams “despite being female.”
The family celebrates Thanksgiving, one of the quintessential American holidays, but they also bring Persian foods to the feast. This could symbolize the way that Firoozeh’s family embraces American culture and traditions, and the democratic, pluralistic structure of American society, without turning their backs on their Iranian roots.
Firoozeh’s family loves living in the “Land of the Free.” But for Kazem, “free” has another meaning. One day, he tells Firoozeh that he and Uncle Nematollah are going out to lunch at Price Club, the bulk chain of stores. There he and Nematollah eat dozens of free samples. Kazem and Nazireh are “hunter gatherers”—they hoard free food, free soap from hotels, and free peanuts on airplanes.
Kazem and his brother don’t seem to have a lot of perspective on what is and isn’t considered acceptable behavior in American culture—in this humorous example, they see free samples in Price Club and decide that they can eat almost as much free food as they wish.
Firoozeh notes that Kazem doesn’t know his exact birthdate—the date was recorded in a Koran when he was a baby, but somebody lost the Koran. He decides to celebrate his birthday on March 18, Nazireh’s birthday, so that he’ll only have to remember one date when filling out forms. He and Nazireh receive lots of free meals on their birthday, but find that they have to explain to waiters at what point they realized they had the same birthday. As a result, Kazem prefers to eat at Denny’s by himself on his birthday.
Kazem is a comically practical man—he chooses to make his own birthday the same as his wife’s, just for the convenience. The circumstances that led to Kazem forgetting his birthday are difficult to explain to other Americans—many of whom own a birth certificate. Thus, Kazem avoids explaining the complicated truth (and risk being denied free food as well).
Since retiring, Kazem has become obsessed with time-shares. He and Nazireh still live in Newport Beach. They’re not that wealthy, but they live in a wealthy neighborhood, so they’re targets for time-share marketers. Kazem has been known to buy time-shares in return for a free t-shirt or steak. Nazireh refuses to participate in time-share activities, but Kazem still tries to convince her to attend the free seminars.
Kazem continues to hoard free goods, no matter how useless they are. As with so many other parts of the book, Kazem’s recklessness with money might seem tragic, but Firoozeh presents it in a light, humorous manner.