Today is officially Christmas Eve, but by the time you will be reading this – it won’t be, it will be over and done with for you my gentle readers. Christmas 2020 will be history. I have not been able to escape reminders of Christmas despite the drastic decision to relocate to a Muslim country. Christmas carols blare from the hotel speakers, there are trees and decorations. But here is the good news – I am surrounded by Muslims, so it is not as painful as it might be. I met an amazing couple at the St. Regis the other evening, we ate together at the Thai restaurant. It was totally mind boggling! They live in Marin County and are Muslims. What is the probability of that – to meet a Muslim couple by sheer chance at a hotel in the Middle East? We made a fantastic connection with one another – will have to think of nicknames for them. They are both complex, interesting, involved, artistic people who so happen to be Muslims and live in Marin. Perhaps if I would have met them when I lived in Marin I would still be there, nurtured by their presence. But I didn’t AND they are thinking of relocating to Abu Dhabi. So it is a miracle which is a “surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency” The divine agency is, of course, Allah. It is a phenomenon, a mystery, a prodigy, a sign.
They are staying at a St. Regis Hotel in Abu Dhabi within the city. I wrote her of my Christmas Day plans. Exited about it. Wrote about it on blog but not posted yet.
Me: Decided not to go to Qatar right now. Going to Grand Mosque on Christmas Day. Exited about it. Wrote about it on blog but not posted yet.
She: That is a great idea to go on Christmas. That is the best haven to be at (the Grand Mosque) away from all of those hotels that have holiday songs and holiday ornaments.
Do you not love her thinking? I do!! Spoke of my disdain of the Christmas stuff to an Abu Dhabi man who made the following defense.
He: We celebrate Tolerance, that is what we in Abu Dhabi are known for.
Me: Well, that would be great if it is reciprocal but it is NOT. I recall no Ramadan decorations and songs in the USA when I fasted during Ramadan in 2020.
It is my humble opinion that this country should say: That is your holiday not mine. Our religion celebrates Jesus as a prophet and Mary as the mother of Jesus but our faith does not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Our religion also does not believe in Santa Claus. We do know that reindeer roam the earth but they are not pulling sleighs in the sky. .
I am doing nothing today – well not exactly as I shall go for breakfast/lunch and then a massage is in order. A spa is conveniently located within inches of the Abu Dhabi Airport Premier Inn. A woman’s hands will hopefully help with the back pain and strained neck muscles. Then it will be back to the room, with coffee scheduled with a young woman, met by chance at the airport. She was born in Abu Dhabi. It will be interesting to get to know her – she is, of course, a Muslim.
I am not in a great psychological place for reasons that will be explored, but am receiving hopeful words from my Pakistani Grandson. He tells me:
He: When you have some difficulties coming in life Allah wants you to come near Him and pray to me. Allah wants love to you. Life is a cycle. There are ups and downs. Life is an examination
Me: Thank you Grandson! Your grandmother feels better now. More at peace. Put in Allah’s hands.
But onto the promised humor brought to us from David Sedaris brought via the New Yorker. Many know that he is my favorite author of all time and has been for year. The extremely funny piece is entitled.: Yelp Reviews of Christmas and here is the link: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2021/12/27/yelp-reviews-of-christmas?utm_source=onsite-share&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=onsite-share&utm_brand=the-new-yorker
All of the ‘reviews’ are from men and women located across the United States. It begins with a man from Silver Spring, “I like Christmas, except it has too many nuts in it and I’m allergic. There are nuts in the cookies—not all, but some—and even in the songs! I don’t think this is fair to people such as myself.Christmas needs to be more inclusive. Then Larry L., Chicago write
Christmas is too loud. I live next to a Unitarian church and all day bells toll and it gives me a headache. I tried talking to them about it but totally got the brushoff. The priest is a woman with a crewcut. She never wears a dress except when it’s a priest dress and doesn’t own any makeup, or so she says on her Facebook page. I used to like Christmas, but now, like everything else, it’s turned gay. So two stars.
Another review by Stephen K. From Gates Mill, Ohio who gives only one star.
As a kid, I loved Christmas. Now I want to apologize for the role I’ve played in preserving it. The trees, the food, the presents: it’s all about privilege. Sure, my family can hang stockings from the mantel, but what about people—the housing insecure, for example—who don’t have fireplaces? I brought this up to my mother, who said, “Well, sweetie, people in Florida don’t have fireplaces, either.
She’ll do anything to keep her blinders on, my mother. “I’m talking about systemic fireplaces,” I told her. “Internalized fireplaces, about the ‘white Christmas’ we’re all supposed to dream of.” I asked, “What color was Frosty?”
She said, “That little lesbian girl from your high school who was convicted for selling drugs?”
I said, “No, the snowman.”
She said, “All snowmen are white.”
I said, “Exactly. And what color were the Three Wise Men?”
She said she was pretty sure that one of them was Black, at least down at St. Timothy’s.
“So the power structure of the Catholic Church is essentially saying that only one of three wise people is Black.”
“They don’t mean it that way,” she said. “It’s not a statement, and, if it was, two would be Asians, because, really, don’t they have the upper hand in that department? They sure do at the school we’re paying an arm and a leg for you to attend, the one teaching you all this nonsense. It’s like when you called the Easter Bunny a neocolonialist. All this anger, when he’s a made-up character. He and Santa and the Tooth Fairy—none of them are real!”
And I was, like, “You’re telling me this now?” I give Christmas one star. I give my racist, deceitful mother none. “
Do you not love that? Giving the racist, deceitful mother no stars at all. I do wonder how David Sedaris thinks of all of this – the llama and the woman who is still breast feeding her daughter and is happy that her daughter is kicked in the head so that she can have some time off.
But now back to some serious thoughts brought to you from my new found friend whose nickname will be NEFF which stands for New Exceptional Found Friend – we were texting about Christmas. She and her husband are here in Abu Dhabi. She sent a video of kids at an Abu Dhabi mall, with the following text.
She: Xmas motifs are on steroids out in the malls which stay open until midnight, I have to say that their tolerance in supporting Xmas festivities for these children in the video. It is balanced because there is an awesome grand mosque here and it’s Islam is a living religion not a relic or remnants of the past. You can’t appreciate Islam uncles you acknowledge and appreciate Judaism and Christianity
Me: You are so smart! I totally agree with you and will put it on blog with your permission. I must think of a nickname for you.
She: Actually memo put me in a Christian school while growing up (this is before they had Muslim schools, anyway my nickname used to be “ambergris” which means whale bar.!
At least here in use they remote Xmas because it’s still the worlds most dominant holiday and so many expats live here, celebrating or appreciating it does not go against Islam because ! It is not an official Islamic holiday or official government holiday however in in the public space it its a shared appreciation. I’m sure most Christians don’t realize in the Wes that Muslims do go to their malls and they are adorned with holiday decorations and they take their kids out to see Santa Claus and listen to to Christmas sons as I participated in school theatre plays with the story of the birth of Jesus.
Me: I could not agree with you more. I absolutely love the songs and know the second, third and sometimes fourth verse of every Christmas carol
She: According to Wikipedia Christmas did not become an official public holiday until 1958. Christmas Day is the birth of a profound messenger who is known for love and forgiveness.
At least UAE Muslim boys are growing up being reminded of this messenger, so be it in the consumer holiday format . The point is that Christmas is respected here in the UAE.
Me: You are smarter than me. I hate that.
She: Yes you can reference those quotes for the blog.
The two photographs were placed on Instagram. One had the following quote. Off with his head. A new gingerbread man – he will also bite the dust. I am having so much fun. Who needs snow at Christmas when you have destructible gingerbread men??? Gingerbread men. And you do not have to shovel sand but you do have to shovel snow. So there! So there! So there!