Our third Christmas in Doha was a nice surprise. I spent most of November dreading its arrival, having vowed the year before that we wouldn't spend one more holiday in the desert.
I had visions of seeing my breath as the snow crunched beneath my feet on a cold winter's night... again. I wanted flannel jammies and a fireplace... again. I wanted familiar. I wanted festive.
But, I had to face the truth - I had no business flying anywhere at seven months pregnant, and it was shaping up to be a quiet Christmas here... again. Every time I thought about throwing caution to the wind and flying back to Canada (or some other snowy and cozy destination), I would get this vivid image in my head of our family, sitting stranded in a busy airport due to a snow storm, hours on end, hoping to get a rescheduled flight... been there, done that. No thanks.
So we buckled down and tried to make the best of the season here... again.
My absolute highlights:
A Starry Night in the Dunes
We had skipped out on this two years in a row, but this year when we heard of an expat community here organizing a Christmas evening in the Singing Sand Dunes with a bonfire, Christmas Carols sung by the Doha Singers, 'sledding' down the dunes, and Santa himself arriving with gifts for the kids... well, we had to trek out there and be a part of it. Sooo glad we did.
There were hundreds of expat families and the festive spirit was contagious. The singing floated through the breezy night air and the fire roared. Santa made time to talk to Ella - who had picked him a bouquet of wildflowers before we left the house and had clung to them for over and hour in the car, waiting to see Santa and give her 'gift' to him - and surprisingly, we knew quite a few families there.
In the end, we left happily humming carols and carrying our tired and happy little girl through the dark to our car. I highly recommend this evening next year, for those interested in a bit of Christmas in an unusual and unexpected place. It was a fantastic experience. (And guess what? We saw stars. Not just one or two fighting to be seen through the sandy city air, but a whole sky full. Sometimes seeing something you hadn't realized you had missed can feel so good!).
Doha Christmas Cup
We missed our family. We missed tradition and the smell of holiday food begging us to indulge. So we decided to have a little gathering.
Hence, the first Annual Doha Christmas Cup was born.
We were used to gathering with friends and family, playing games, singing songs and sharing memories. So we brought a little of that here this year. An evening filled with great neighbours and friends, lots of food, and many laughs. It felt like home on this night. So much fun. Congrats to the Duggan's of Nova Scotia (now Doha) who did us fellow Nova Scotians proud by taking home the 'trophy'.
We made some other great memories this holiday as well. E is three now, and boy can a three year old really make Christmas magical. Seeing Santa, opening presents, watching holiday movies, baking cookies... all the good stuff was extra fun this time around. Memories we won't soon forget.
Bob Hope once said when speaking about the holiday season: "When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness.”
He was right on the money. It was the 'little happinesses' this year that made the biggest differences. 2013 promises to hold big changes for us... and hopefully we stumble upon some 'little happinesses' along the way as well.
Happy New Year, Everyone!