Our first Christmas in Qatar was better than expected I’d say. Some things were the same, exactly the same, while other things were different.
Here are the pictures of the last couple of weeks…some from my phone (I’m sorry) and others of the nicer variety. Hopefully you will have noticed the best one of all immediately. Jeff and Kathy and Kaiya and our friend Robyn (visiting from Canada) were here for dinner one night. The photo that is now the header of my blog was taken by the very talented Jeff Epp from our balcony. Click on his name to see more of his great work. Until that day we hadn’t managed to capture our view. The picture is cropped so I’ll be sure to include the uncropped version below as well.
This is Kaiya, their daughter. I find it amusing that this little 5 year old girl who is about to become a big sister has recently developed the skill of being able to fall asleep anywhere. You’re gonna need it kiddo. Good job!
We weren’t sure we could find/create the Christmas spirit here in the middle of the desert without snow, without family. The stores helped. Even though this is a Muslim country commerce dictates that the expats and their need to buy gifts will be served. So there was lots of the usual hustle bustle going on in the malls, decorations, even ones that said “Merry Christmas” and of course Christmas carols playing. Even yesterday I heard Hark The Harold Angels Sing playing at the grocery store. If the people shopping around me only knew the words, I wonder if they’d be outraged, or if they’d shrug. I didn’t dare ask, I just enjoyed it.
Day 1 – Home from school. Work behind us. Time to soak up the sun and let the relaxing begin.
My Christmas tree and poinsettia have never had a view of the sea before. That was a nice difference.
Remember blaming the kids for the bad decorating of the tree? “Oh, I let them do it that’s why it looks like that.” What excuse do I have for this?
Same decorations. The exact same because they followed us here.
First Christmas together ornament.
Yep, have had this one for 28 years. Looking a little rusty.
It’s like wrinkles. Adds character.
Baby Jesus comes with a bit of a story. I didn’t have a nativity scene in my Christmas decorations for years because I never liked the baby Jesus figure. I wanted the baby to look like a baby. Not like someone who was already hanging on a cross. The year will bring us to that story eventually, but right now we’re celebrating the BABY. So for years I looked. I was finally happy with this one. He’s a little blonde perhaps but at least he looks like he’s under two years old.
Baby Jesus was also an amusement for the middle child. Yes, over the years Annie has taken baby Jesus to the mall, to work and to who knows where. It was a regular occurrence to get a mischievous text from her saying “Guess where Jesus is now…” Because I’d searched long and hard for this baby I was not amused, at least at first. Eventually I relaxed and entered into her fun and games.
This year as Jesus was unpacked, by a husband who will go unnamed, he was dropped on the tile floor and broke into many pieces. Annie was not amused to hear this as she thought I should have left baby Jesus with her in Canada anyhow and now look what happened! The contrite husband performed expert surgery even with a silent wife hovering nearby. The result was pretty good. Baby Jesus now needs extra swaddling clothes (you really don’t want to know what’s under there) but he was saved. Yes, you heard that right. Don’t look TOO close.
Homemade Christmas Card from Jenn and Josh. Crafty girl.
The day before Christmas eve Honour decided to learn some tricks on her long board. Apparently ALL the kids are doing it! Apparently not all successfully. She was treated at the hospital by an Arab doctor who asked what colour of a cast she’d like. Hot pink? No? “I know what you would like. You would like a happy Christmas cast!” He proceeded to make it bright red and then put green sparkles on it. Only in Doha. Then of course she was wheeled around by Dad, spoiled by the staff here at the condo and pampered by her friends. It did throw a ‘little monkey’ wrench into the pedicure I had planned, not to mention the dilemma of figuring out if the boots I bought her fit before the deadline to take them back.
We went to a lovely service at the Anglican church on Christmas Eve eve and sang carols and lit candles and all the lovely things I like to do on Christmas Eve at home. It really was beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.
But not to look like Christmas. Mainly because this happened on Christmas Eve Day. This fell into the category of Never Before.
Also, a very lovely party happened on Christmas Eve with old friends and new friends. The table was set with beautiful food, we were all dressed up and sparkly. But you’ll just have to take my word for it because we forgot our camera. Dumb.
Several of the hotels had beautiful trees and gingerbread houses. My husband is standing in the door so you can understand the size of this. It’s real. Those panels are all cookie. Cookies and candy and icing. Amazing.
Christmas eve, on her way to bed, Honour asked if what she was feeling was just part of growing up or if the Christmas spirit just wasn’t to be found in Qatar. Ah.
However, Santa seems to know where to find Qatar. I think he rode a camel though.
Christmas morning Jennica and Josh skyped in (it was Christmas Eve for them) and I ‘carried them’ into Honour’s room and we jumped on the bed to wake her up. Voila! The Christmas spirit was alive and well. It just needed a sister in some form to jump on the bed.
The usual flurry of presents and paper and second cups of coffee and much-too-early-chocolate, and Pringles in the stockings.
Then off to lunch with our friends Darren and Larissa and Caleb. Here they are in front of another huge gingerbread house made of actual cookies.
Caleb was well behaved around this enormous sugary temptation. Then there’s my kid….
The delicious buffet was easier for the invalid to navigate in a wheel chair. Thank you to all the young men who fell over themselves to help her.
Honour was Caleb’s favourite babysitter before this happened. I think she was just making sure it stayed that way….
Who can we race?
After a long lunch (it was a buffet after all, turkey included) we played games and drank tea and visited and all those things you do at Christmas. And of course the teenager excused herself and disappeared…as they do.
Then home. Satisfied and happy the we had indeed felt the Christmas spirit, been with ‘family’, skyped, texted, checked in with some loved ones, got Christmas presents (several of which needed to be returned the next day…as you do).
And our view, as promised, courtesy of Jeff Epp.
From our house to yours….