It’s been a long while since I’ve last written a post.
I’ll attribute this to a variety of reasons, but these reasons can all be summed up in one word: teaching.
Teaching kicks my butt everyday.
Each day it brings forth a new series of challenges that make it interesting and special. On days when I’m particularly tired, I would more accurately describe these challenges as ‘frustrating’ or ‘exhausting’ – but today, we’ll stick with the former description.
The plate spinning act, which I discussed in my first blog post about Kuwait, has only become more true as the year has gone on. Except, let’s add 50 more plates onto your act that you didn’t anticipate, yet here they are. And on the rare occasion when you feel like you’ve gotten one plate to spin really well, you realize that there are 500 different ways you still could have done it better. But that’s okay – that is teaching, and that is life.
Each day I like to celebrate the small milestones that remind me that I’m hanging in there. Currently, this celebration is “Yay! I’ve made it to December!”.
December is my favourite month.
Collectively as a whole, we’re all just nicer people in December (or at least it seems that way to me). As a month, December is reflective of the resilience that we, as people, have put forth throughout the entire year of life’s challenges.
We put more effort into spreading cheer, thinking of others, and being mindful of life. Maybe it’s to restore balance to the year as a whole, or maybe its a product of marketing consumerism exceptionally well, but regardless, we are more conscious of being better humans around this time of year, and I love it. It’s this atmosphere that has been getting me through the month of December.
Continuing my general theme of having no idea of what Kuwait would be like prior to arriving, I wasn’t sure how Christmas would “look” or how December would be feel. I also started getting these questions from family and friends, so here’s my take on these questions as we’re now two weeks into December:
What does Christmas “look” like in Kuwait?
When you walk outside, there’s no outward impressions that would lead you to believe it’s Christmas. We don’t have snow, we don’t have frost, and there’s definitely not Christmas lights adorned on the houses throughout neighbourhoods in Kuwait.
If you walked into a mall, this would be a different picture.
Stores cater to the large expat community that lives in Kuwait, and there’s no shortage of Christmas decor available. Bath and Body Works has the full winter scent collection out (which I’ve spent way too much money on), Ikea has quite the Christmas section available, and clothing stores have ALL the sparkle dresses.
If you walked into my apartment, you would see that Christmas can be celebrated wherever you are in the world.
There’s eggnog on the top shelf of my fridge, Lindor chocolate on my countertop, candy canes in my cupboard, and an 8 foot Christmas tree in the room that is the current pride and joy of my apartment.
I purchased this Christmas tree last weekend at a grocery store… which is quite the contrast to my family’s tradition of buying a real Christmas tree each year.
Each year, we hop into our mini-van and drive to the Lions Club of Niagara to pick out a Christmas tree. With a large selection of different types of pine trees, we spend a good while deciding on which one is jussssst right. If we’re feeling decisive, this process can be about 15 minutes – but in the past we’ve definitely spent upwards of 30 minutes on this decision. When you begin to lose feeling in your fingertips and toes through each passing minute, each second is valuable here. Throw in a few Elf references, or the “frah-gee-lay” joke from The Christmas Story, and the Mazzone’s have got themselves a tree!
But instead of standing outside FREEZING, trying to determine which Christmas tree was just right, this year this endeavour consisted of going to the grocery store, deciding to purchase the 8 foot tree, and going home with my exciting new purchase.
If I light my Fresh Balsam Bath and Body Works candle, it almost feels like a REAL tree. Almost!
And of course, no Christmas tree is set without a group of friends to help you decorate it – which is what happened last weekend, and what you’re seeing in this picture:
What does Christmas feel like in Kuwait?
What I’ve quickly learned here is celebrations are as real as you treat them. Because of that the Christmas spirit has been nothing short of awesome so far.
Similar to home, there is a fair share of Christmas get togethers that make December quite busy. There’s more chocolate and sweets around and Christmas music playing in the background (at least within the expat community).
Within this, there’s always a little bit of cultural juxtaposition that makes me laugh. This happens often when I’m listening to Christmas music and the call to prayer goes off in the background. Even more so when I’m listening to certain songs that just make more sense in a colder setting. Songs like “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” or “Let it Snow” make me chuckle every time.
So that’s my update, two weeks into the Christmas season here in Kuwait.
Stay tuned for new adventures, which potentially include making eggnog from scratch, participating in desert road trips, and a few Secret Santa’s to complete the Christmas season.