Jingling the bells of nostalgia

There are only 15 days until Christmas.

However, if you are a dyslexic Mayan you might believe that the World is about to come to an end before then. You will just have to wait until the 21st to find out.

Back to the present day. I am writing this on the 12th day of the 12th month of 2012. In my slightly obsessive way I see this as a pleasingly balanced date, and everything in my life will become aligned. It has been a busy couple of years, moving house eight times in eight years, moving country twice, and I am ready for a rest. But what woman really gets to put her feet up over Christmas?

Here is how I have been spending my time over recent weeks.

I have created an Excel spreadsheet to help me keep track of present buying and menus for various festive foods (did I mention I was obsessive?). Then the document disappeared inexplicably from my computer and I have been left in a state of disarray and panic that I am about to approach the pinnacle of the Western calendar with no map.
I have been pouring over Pinterest to gather quirky ideas for decorating the house.
I have decided that for the first time in my 37 years I will make a Christmas cake (I don’t like dried fruit), and I have spent time designing what I am sure will be a magnificent creation (read disaster).
I have been wracking my brains for fun activities I can do with the children and have settled on a reindeer snack made of porridge oats and sparkles to sprinkle on the garden.
I have been panicking that my five year old daughter has already spotted that our current accommodation doesn’t have a fireplace, so how is the big fellow in red going to visit?

Let me put some of this into context because Christmas will be completely out of context for us. We moved to Dubai a year ago from Chicago, where the snow is piled deep and crisp and even. The air was so cold you couldn’t breath. Christmas lights shone brightly in the clear air. This year we live in a desert, where the sand is piled deep and gets everywhere. The air is so hot your lungs burn (so why am I thinking of cooking a hot Christmas dinner?). Christmas lights glow in the humid haze.

Now don’t get me wrong. If you’re reading this and you live in the southern hemisphere I am sure a cold Christmas is just as strange to you as a hot one is to us. Surely it is about tradition. As an expat, family and cultural traditions anchor you when everything else around you is changing. It reminds you of your heritage, the path you have trodden to get to this day, and Christmas isn’t Christmas without a good dollop of nostalgia is it?

Now I just need to work out how Father Christmas is going to get into the house without a chimney to slide down.

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