I know this post may offend people; some will think it’s just wrong to even be utter the word, others will have sympathy that there are moments, when it’s all you want to scream from the top of your lungs! I apologise right now to those who can’t deal with my outburst but it simply needs to be said………CHRISTMAS!!!
I know, I know its only the 7th November and the “big day” is still 48 days away (to let you know I Googled that, I’m not so sad to have a countdown on my phone) but I don’t know whether it’s being far away or the fact that I know there is an impending festive trip back home, but at the moment it is all I can think about. There will be people who know me well, reading this and saying
Hang on, it’s not the desert causing this, you think about Christmas in August!
And whilst this is true, the location of my current Christmas lament is not helping matters. I will happily admit that I am obsessed with Christmas, its my favourite time of year and I take pride in the fact that I have a very particular way that Christmas should be done. Our life in Prague complemented my obsession beautifully, the city came alive for the festive season, and if anything it was the fuel to my seasonal fire. From mid November the city would transform, the famous Christmas markets would go up and the 31 meter beauty of a spruce would dominate the Old Town Square. The smells of the Trdelník being cooked over warm coals, cinnamon spiced almonds, clutching a cup of hot mulled wine and the smell of the snow crisp in the air. It sounds perfect right? that is because quite simply it was.
Every year I would add even more gems to my OCD ornament collection, plan the theme to an inch of its life, bake up a storm and drive Hubby mad trying to pick out the perfect tree. This annual tradition was something straight out of a movie, we would walk up to the top of our road, to the church square, find the one and at each end carry it home in the snow. Then the annual domestic as we tried to get the 7ft whopper into the lift to the apartment. What followed was my perfect day, Hubby would sit on the sofa (usually drink in hand) and only as Micheal Buble’s dulcet tones sing “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” could the first ornament be hung. Even if I say so myself, my tree was a triumph! Awe I’m getting all misty eyed just thinking about it.
And so to the desert. Now I was not naive to think that moving to a Muslim country that Christmas would be the huge deal it is back home, so as we neared December, 5 months into our arrival, I waited with anticipation to see what would happen. So some retailers do start to crank it up to the festive season, the big difference being that they adopt the American saying of the Holidays, for obvious reasons. The holiday buzz tries to come across with Starbucks infamous red cups, seasonal festive candles are out on display and even the artificial trees can be purchased at a premium.
Whilst I was surprised there was anything remotely acknowledging the season, I’ll be honest it wasn’t the same. I even thought a spot of baking, accompanied by Mr Buble may get me in the mood, but looking at my sad little B&Q tree (that had travelled the world with us for emergency use only) with only a quarter of my bauble horde, the sun blazing through the apartment, I wasn’t feeling it. That year we didn’t go home until the 23rd December and I felt like I had missed out on all the hype. I hadn’t walked down King Street for the novelty “late night shopping” (which ultimately ends in the pub) I hadn’t put up a proper tree, eaten really good minced pies or sung along to carols. So from that year on I always go that little bit earlier, soak it all in, immerse myself in fairy lights and mum even saves the tree for my arrival.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people who do stay here for Christmas (my poor Hubby for one has to work this year so wont be partaking in a Jersey family special). There are carol services at the Embassy, am-dram pantos to take the kids to and even a midnight mass at selected churches. However for most it’s like any other day, people go to work and those expats that take holiday, will simply create a home from home experience with their loved ones. They may not watch The Queen at 3pm but you can guarantee someone will be asleep on the sofa after consuming a very expensive Turkey dinner.
I know Christmas has got far too commercialised and it’s not about the stuff, but sometimes you really need the stuff! It’s the little things you miss and I know many of my friends back home will be saying its gone too much the other way, as one person put it this week
The shops looked like they threw up Christmas back in October!
I get that, even October is too early for me and that’s saying something. But hearing the music, seeing the lights, the wrapping up warm to venture out anywhere, it all feeds into the experience. Here simply is not the same. For example I was going to get my nails done last year and as I was the only there, they thoughtfully put some Christmas music on. What they didn’t tell me was they only had one song, so listening to Mariah on loop for an hour is enough to send anyone over the festive edge!
I guess what I’m saying is, that this time of year makes you hanker after the comfort of home. The family traditions, the ritual of coming together and losing yourself in the atmosphere. Ultimately you want your loved ones around you and for some that will be desert side, for others back home, and wherever we are it will mean something.
But I guess I am a little more fickle, sentimental and obsessive. I need the people I love, an atmospheric build up, a big tree, mince pies, boozy hot chocolate, hats, scarves and of course Mr Buble.