Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Sandbox

Yes, yes, I know, I've been a terrible blogger. Let's see what I have here in my excuses box . . . hmmm, busy? (used it before), holiday craziness? (they'll never buy it), getting old? (perish the thought!), just plain lazy? (yep, that should do it).

This time of year, a lot of people send sympathy wishes to us either in their cards (thank you!) or emails, facebook posts, etc. Things like, "I know you don't get to celebrate Christmas there ..." and "It must be hard with no Christmas over there ..."

I decided I'd better set the record straight so that you don't feel too sorry for us. Yes, Christmas time is harder than most because we miss family and friends, snow and Black Friday sales, but not because we don't have any Christmas here. The thing I love most about the UAE is that it is truly international - meaning we get to celebrate everything. Well, almost everything. I'll admit I've never seen anything for Hanukkah or Kwanza, but pretty much everything else. 

Now, it's not as public as back home, but in every hotel and shopping mall across UAE, there are Christmas decorations, music, holiday goodies and even a Santa Claus or two. Here's a taste of what we saw this year.
This is the tree at Etihad Towers (a residential, hotel and retail complex). This was in the lobby and the area next to it is a little shop selling mince pies, candy canes, gingerbread, etc.  Mince pies are HUGE - a British thing that our forefathers must have left behind when they boarded the Mayflower. Some of you probably now mincemeat or mince pies. I didn't really understand until coming here, and while not my favorite holiday treat, I try to get a few during the season each year.
This is the tree in the Park Rotana, just down the street from our apartment. This is the main one in the lobby and they had another smaller one and a gingerbread house down another hallway.
When we arrived at the Park Rotana, the Filipino staff was singing Feliz Navidad ... yep, in the Muslim desert. See? Who says we don't have Christmas here! :)
And this lovely tree was in the restaurant where we had Christmas dinner - turkey, stuffing, roasted vegatables ... and seared Ahi tuna for a starter. :) Not exactly traditional, but really good. And the winter fruits cake and gingerbread for dessert were amazing.
This huge tree was in the Ritz-Carlton lobby. We went there because we heard they were holding a "Christmas Market". Turned out to be just a decorated buffet dinner at their restaurant. Still, nice to see the tree.
And this is our pathetic plastic tree from the hypermarket. While you can find a very few real pine trees this time of year, the cost is outrageous and it just doesn't seem right to buy a tree shipped from Canada. I mean, come on, we're in the dessert! Accept it, buy your plastic tree and move on.

We haven't made it this year to Emirate's Palace, but I've heard they've got their standard monstrosity of a tree in the rotunda - might try to get there this weekend and take a look.

So, for those of you feeling sorry for us, don't. We've got plenty of Christmas cheer and holiday goodies to keep us entertained. And while it doesn't replace being home with family and friends, it does keep us in the holiday spirit.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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