Child's play

December 16, 2016

The idea for Moon+Fable came about when a father sang off-key lullabies to his new daughter. It had been decades since Richard Kassab, an architect by trade, thought about the songs and fables his mother used to sing. Suddenly, he couldn’t get them out of his head.

MacKenzie, his wife and a writer from the U.S., listened at the door. When she asked him to translate the tales, the importance of this oral history struck him. They joked about making t-shirts so their American-Lebanese baby would never forget her culture.

“There are books written about ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,’ but the songs from our childhood exist mostly in memories,” says Richard. “I wanted her to know this stuff, even if it meant making her wear it so she’s reminded every day.” MacKenzie laughs, “Coincidentally, it’s also a crash-course for me in Lebanese parenting.” When friends started requesting shirts for their children, the couple officially launched the brand.

Bucolik asked the duo behind Moon+Fable what life was like when they were kids living half a world apart.

The book or movie that sums up your childhood?

Richard: The Wonder Years. I don’t think I really understood it at the time, especially because it was as far from my childhood experience in Lebanon as you could get. But still, it resonated with me as a kid. We actually went back and watched a few episodes on Netflix recently. It’s even better as an adult.

MacKenzie: Every Judy Bloom book ever written. When you feel like no one else in the world gets you, Judy Bloom gets you.


Childhood comfort food?

Richard: Labneh (yogurt) and zaatar (dried thyme) mixed with oil, spread on pita bread. There’s a bowl of zaatar out in every Lebanese kitchen. It’s practically part of the décor.

MacKenzie: Kraft macaroni and cheese – the kind with the packet of orange powder – was my favorite meal as a kid. Even on birthdays, when I could have whatever I wanted for dinner, that’s what I’d pick. I’m actually embarrassed to admit that it was the only thing I could stomach during several months of my pregnancy. Our daughter may or may not have orange cheese sauce running through her veins.


Most exciting place to go as a kid?

Richard: During Lebanon’s civil war, we didn’t have access to a lot of things. But our neighbors belonged to a really exclusive country club, and it had a pool. I can’t even describe my excitement when they’d invite us to go for a swim behind the massive iron gates.

MacKenzie: Roller Kingdom, the local roller skating rink. I’d spend all week planning my outfit and practicing my sweet moves in the garage. No one does a hokey pokey on wheels quite like I do.

MacKenzie in Massachusetts, 1980s


Richard in Beirut, 1980s


Your style 30 years ago?

Richard: Anything on top tucked into anything below. There are no rules, as long as everything’s tucked in.

MacKenzie: I never met an embellishment I didn’t like – ruffles, puffy paint, rhinestones, lace bows, glitter. Frankly, a blank spot of fabric was a wasted spot. But I think I overdosed by the time I reached high school, because my style today is actually quite minimalist.


Best holiday memory?

Richard: I have no idea why this is such a special memory, but one holiday my aunt arrived with a bunch of plastic musical instruments. We each got to pick our own, and I chose a flute. I kept that flute for a ridiculously long time. Unfortunately, all future attempts to get into music failed. Some people are born with the music gene. Others – like me – really have no business being around any instrument, even if it’s plastic.

MacKenzie: My family was spread out across Massachusetts, so all of my best holiday memories involve aunts, uncles, cousins and my grandpa just being together. It seemed like everyone lived so far away! These days, we live even farther apart. I wish I could drive just an hour or two and see them all together.


The gift you’re giving your daughter this holiday season?

Richard: Classic wooden blocks. With blocks and an imagination, how could you ever be bored?

MacKenzie: Time. As a working parent, I feel like our days are spent rushing between bed, daycare, work and bed again. I’m making a point in the new year to fit more fun into our hectic schedule: story time at the library, a quick stop at the park between errands, or a trip to our local café for a cup of hot chocolate. We may be short on quantity, but I hope to make every minute with our daughter quality time.