It’s been a busy few days here. Last Thursday was National Day. A celebration of 39 years of the United Arab Emirates. There were parades, there were fireworks and flag waving a-plenty. It is a public holiday that everybody is granted, which is rare and therefore, definitely worth embracing.
So how did we celebrate this milestone? We spent the day putting up our Christmas decorations. Yes, you read that correctly. An entire day dedicated to the task of getting us all into the festive spirit. There are only a couple of weeks in December before we fly back to the UK for the Christmas break, so as far as we’re concerned, December 1st is the green light for the festive season to begin.
Given that it’s still almost 30 degrees most days, it’s not the traditional build up that we were used to back home. Our fairy lights don’t twinkle in the darkness; they compete with the sunshine.
We can’t wrap up warm and drink mulled wine in front of a roaring fire; but we can turn the air con up high and pretend that it’s a little chilly. I’ve taken to wearing my Uggs much to my husband’s amusement/concern for my sanity.
I kid myself that all of this is for the children’s benefit but of course that’s not the case. It’s all for me. I love Christmas. I love everything about it – the food, the carols, the family bust ups over Scrabble and the really poor television.
While my husband muttered expletives as he assembled the Christmas tree, branch by branch (and it’s 9ft tall so there are quite a few); I put the Christmas cd on and danced with the twins. My son found some tree chocolates that must have been packed away with the decorations, and discreetly scoffed them in the kitchen (they were purchased pre-allergy and have not been given the nut-free seal of approval!).
When the girls went for their nap, the tree was assembled, yet bare, so when they woke a couple of hours later, the house had quite literally been transformed.
The tree was decorated, the reindeer candles, mini-trees and musical box were all in situ, and even the paper chains had been hung.
There was only one word in my daughters’ vocabulary that could possibly do this magical scene justice.
As the girls toddled downstairs to the newly created winter wonderland, their eyes were out on stalks. They must have no memory of last Christmas, so for them, this is the most amazing thing they’ve ever experienced.
My son’s excitement is now solely focused on writing his list, sending it to Father Christmas, and doing his best to make sure that there is a full delivery on Christmas Eve.
For the girls’, the excitement is still all so innocent. The musical box that plays Silent Night keeps them amused for minutes at a time, and in toddler-time, that’s a pretty good result!
And every morning, as they come down the stairs for breakfast, they experience the excitement of the tree and its twinkling lights all over again, as if for the first time.
It’s fair to say that, “WOW, tree”, has become my most favourite phrase.