Each of us have something that marks the passing of one season to another. Living and traveling in other countries often flips things on their heads in terms of what should be expected at various times of year. For instance I recall wishing that Santa would deliver a nice cold pool to enjoy for Christmas in Ghana; that and to kill the mouse that kept me up all night on Christmas Eve!
Here in Afghanistan the Christmas season so far has brought delightful surprises here and there. A month ago I found some nice eclectic stockings with a Persian flair to them. At another place I came across some beautiful handmade beaded ornaments in the shape of Christmas trees. Since I have only two ornaments back in DC I figured I might as well start my ornament collection with these; who knows, maybe one day we’ll have a real sized tree of our own!
Last weekend I went out in search of white Christmas lights. I was not 100% successful in my search but finally opted for some colored lights so as to not torture the guards any further in the pursuit of lights! These have been twinkling along all week and putting me in a jolly mood.
Yesterday a colleague and I found some white lights in the shape of a star and picked those up. Today we finally decided it was time to go all out and get a tree! We went down to Flower Street, where all sorts of flowers can be found, and picked ourselves out a small fake tree. There were some large live trees available as well but we weren’t willing to fork over the cash for those – $80!.
We are going to put a red or gold mini-burqa as our burqa angel tree topper. For those of you who may not know what burqas are, they are worn by many women here – covering the whole body aside from the lower front of the legs and provides a mesh opening at the face to see through. One of the shops in town sells mini-burqas as wine bottle covers. They also happen to be perfect for a Christmas tree topper!
The twist of holiday time around here came with the daffodils and tuberoses that we also bought on Flower Street. They are the small daffodils with the yellow centers and white petals. I had a grand time trimming down and arranging a couple of bouquets. It felt like spring at Christmas time!
I figure that no matter where you are in the world, holidays are what you make them. I’m starting to read The Great Santa Search to further put myself in a festive mood.
We also have the second Eid holiday of the year coming up next week. Afghans will enjoy three days of holidays next week. They are also busy doing holiday shopping and getting ready for festivities with friends and family.
Last weekend as we were searching for my Christmas lights I got lots of fun questions about what Christmas is all about. Our staff here are always very curious about these things. While there are obviously extreme Muslims out there that would be against the celebration of Christmas, our staff has been nothing but supportive and interested in learning more about our holidays. It’s great to share back and forth about the ways we celebrate family and friends. When it comes down to it we have much more in common than we have apart.
Best of all we also managed to find candy canes today! We bought enough for our whole staff to share them on Christmas Eve with folks! One broke and I had to eat half of it this afternoon, yum!
Happy Holidays to all of you! Make it yours and enjoy the season!
P.S. I’ll share pictures of our burqa clad tree when we are finished decorating it!