Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas in Qatar ... a Photo Review

While opening up gifts from Canada on Christmas Day, I read a card from a good friend which said, "I am so curious to hear about Christmas in Qatar!" ... and the inspiration for this post was born.

We were "forced" to be here this holiday season, due to me being 36 weeks pregnant (!!!!!) as of yesterday. But once we got over the initial "Oh? You mean we can't go home?" we were actually glad to stay. While it's wonderful to see family and friends, flying home at Christmas is a big cost for a short amount of time, nevermind the week it takes to get over the jet lag. Doha is beautiful this time of year, and lucky for us, many of our friends chose to stay here this year too. AND we had a good friend visit us from back home, bringing a little Christmas along with her.

Being a Muslim country, Qatar doesn't officially celebrate Christmas. Stores don't go mad with the Christmas rush (they're kind of just always mad), there's no Christmas music playing, and there isn't that Christmas Day quiet. But I like all of these things. Because it means Christmas here is truly what you make it. You can still buy Christmas trees, even real ones, if you're willing to shell it out. And the stores are filled with decorations and special holiday chocolates. There are churches here, where you can celebrate advent... the Catholic church was busting at the seams Christmas Eve with its many, many services in multiple languages. And the large hotels feature special events, like Christmas Eve and Day dinners, with all the traditional fixings, along with massive, beautifully decorated trees and visits from Santa.

For our part, we chose to host a Christmas Eve open house, in the style of our former St. Catharines neighbours, and then to have a quiet rest of the holiday. After a busy, busy month, we Epps are in need of some serious rest and quiet. We filled the house with Christmas music, did a bit of baking, decorated with handmade ornaments, wreaths, and snowflakes, as well as some stockings bought from a craft show. Christmas Day we opened gifts, played, and then went to the park, calling Canadian family and friends in the evening. And lucky for us... we have till January 6th to enjoy this blessed quiet and togetherness time, with pretty much nothing listed on the calendar. And that, friends, is how we chose to do Christmas in Qatar.

Our itty-bitty Christmas tree, covered in homemade ornaments. Kaiya and I put it up December 1st, while Jeff was still in Canada.

Kaiya and Jeff at the Doha Mums' Winter Carnival, a great day full of Christmas-y arts and crafts.

Can't write about our holidays without mentioning National Day, December 18th. It's HUGE. I'll post more on that another time.

Kaiya took this one of Jeff in National Day/Qatari flag garb.

Kaiya and I making sugar cookies. They were delicious, but confirmed the fact that I am NOT a fan of rolled cookies.

She has become very good at posing for pictures.

Painting the living room, using our Christmas Eve open house as a pressure deadline. The hallway also got painted... a lovely deep red. I know... green and red... how festive of us!

Our "hand" wreath, and a stocking Kaiya made at daycare last year.

We decided to open our stockings Christmas Eve morning.

Kaiya was thrilled with her chocolate Santa. She ate it over the course of 3 days. Her comment on Day 3: "The chocolate man is dead. I ate his head." (insert slightly-evil laugh)

An amazing veggie tray Larissa made for the open house. Check out the snowman!

I think this is the only people picture Jeff took of the open house?

Thankfully Kaiya took Jeff's iphone and decided to document some of the evening. She's been doing this kind of thing a lot lately. Following daddy's footsteps?

Open house leftovers: cupcakes we made, yule log courtesy of Tracie, and baklava and assorted breads, store bought. We had SO MUCH food, but thankfully everyone mowed through it pretty good. ;)

Thoughtful homemade gifts from friends... as well as our favourite holiday chocolates.

Christmas Day was 30+ degrees. Gotta keep those plants well watered!

Christmas morning. We were all exhausted after the night before, but she was SO excited! The perfect age to "get it."

Jeff and Kaiya, Christmas Day. Can you tell Jeff went to bed at 3:30, after cleaning up and wrapping gifts?

Me and Kaiya, Christmas Day. This used to be my least favourite room. I kinda love it now. It's amazing what paint and pictures on the wall can do for the "cozy factor."

The cute outfit Auntie Dagmar bought for Kaiya.

Her BIG gift from Santa: a 3-wheeled scooter.

Already well-used. Down our street every morning, and at the park every afternoon.

And finally, we can't have "winter" in Qatar without a good old sand angel, now can we? Much easier than making a sand man, anyhow. :)

1 comment:

Erika said...

great pictures! the henna hands always throw me off; until i remember:-) love you all and miss you.