To all the Christians out there and everyone else who just loves a reason to celebrate, Merry Christmas!
Christmas in a foreign country was an interesting experience. Oman is not just a foreign country but also a hot and sunny country and a Muslim country. Celebrating in the absence of most of the traditional cues of Christmas – cold, snow, Christmas carols, Christmas lights, crazy shoppers, etc. – forces you to think about what is really most important about this holiday. Here are the answers I came up with:
Family. Over the course of three carefully timed phone calls I spoke to no less than 30 individual family members! Even though these were short conversations, it was more than enough to remind myself what a blessing it is to have people caring about you no matter where you are.
Friends. I spent this Christmas with AIESEC friends. What is interesting about AIESEC is that when you are with a group of AIESEC interns, it is unlikely that two people are from the same country. Coming from very different parts of the world (China, Poland, Uganda, Cameroon…), I am sure we each had a unique image of the typical Christmas. But regardless of what we were comparing it to, there was no doubt that this one different. We were all equally determined to have an enjoyable Christmas and helped each other do just that.
Giving. We went to the souq to do some shopping on Christmas Day. I bought small trinkets for the people I was with. Nothing big, but this was enough to make it feel like Christmas to me!
Being together. With phones and internet at our disposal, physical proximity is not the only way to feel close to people. In fact, when you need to be a little creative to show people you care about them, it only makes you realize more than before what is important to you.
Tradition. I did not take part in most of my own traditions, but I did try new ones. For example, on Christmas Eve, I learned a Polish tradition that involves sharing pieces of a “Christmas wafer” (oplatek) and greeting each person around you one by one. Taking part in any tradition, familiar or unfamiliar, makes a holiday feel like a holiday.
I hope you all enjoyed Christmas and/or your respective holidays and that you are looking forward to the New Year! Cheers!
One of these sharks made a delicious Christmas Eve lunch.
Christmas Day at the yacht club.
Irene and I were excited to find a Christmas tree!
I never thought would hang out on a beach at Christmas!