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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holidays in Abu Dhabi

The time is here again for the most popular holidays celebrated by many expatriots living in Abu Dhabi, Christmas and New Year’s Eve. I could count Thanksgiving but that was last month and is rarely celebrated outside of North America, even the USA and Canada observe it on separate days. There is not a single turkey within 6000 miles of this place anyway. Thanksgiving is a non-starter here.

I kind of enjoy Christmas in Abu Dhabi. Back home the commercial interests start late in October and are relentless in cajoling folks to start purchasing gifts for the Big Day. The malls and traffic get progressively more congested as time gets closer to December 25th. As a guy, I typically hate shopping and wait to the last week to do my gift purchases. By then the malls resemble the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Tension is high and tempers flare during these last minute retail outings. Not my idea of fun.

In Abu Dhabi things are so much more subdued and the shopping pressure is off. Sure I miss my friends, family and the parties. Sitting in front of a roaring fireplace, the house decorated with twinkly lights and the smell of a freshly cut and decorated Christmas tree lighting up the room can’t be beat. Exchanging gifts with loved ones (especially the children) is always fun! It’s the commercialism that bothers me back home and I don’t have to experience that here if I choose not to. I'd rather not.

Christmas Tree at my Old House

My Last Christmas in Utah, USA, 2007

I will have to admit the perfect springtime weather in December here is not real conducive to a strong “Holiday Spirit” for me. I have always associated Christmastime with cold, snow and nasty weather. Not many fireplaces, hot toddies or fir trees here for that matter. Although the malls in Abu Dhabi try, I miss the outside street decorations and lights in front of businesses and residences.

Zion National Park, Utah, USA

Zion National Park

Zion National Park

This will mark my third season away and while there a lot of things I miss, I still remember to count my blessings and make the best out of things. Its not so bad here this time of year.

New Year’s Eve is another story! I call it “Amateur Night” and try to stay off the road as some drivers who may not have drank all year do on that night and don't know their limits. It may be better here but I don’t take chances. Anyone know of a good fireworks show?

On a related note, it does strike me as more than coincidental that a lot of religions and cultures have holidays/rituals corresponding more or less to the two equinoxes and two solstices (both extreme positions of the sun) that occur each calendar year.  Ancient peoples built Stonehenge and other elaborate archeological wonders found all over the world to measure these solar events. It must have been as important to them as it still seems to us. That is a topic for another post.

Happy Holidays, y'all!

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