As December has descended, all of us Northern European/American expats have started the annual moan about how it's still far too warm for this time of year, about how we miss the snow and we can't find a mince pie or home wine mulling kit to save our lives. Yes, when you live in a country that does not celebrate Christmas, the festive season is notable by its absence in most places. However, much like last year, Rich and I are still managing to have a lot of fun.
Having resigned ourselves to the fact that we will definitely be staying in the desert for this year rather than heading home for a veritable feast of British Christmas goodness with friends and family back home like the last, we've decided to make the very best of our situation. If we're not going to Christmas, we are bloody well bringing Christmas to us.
And this is how we're doing it:
1. By rinsing the Christmas shopping opportunities
This means heading to the one aisle in the one store that has made a bit of an effort to be festive to stock up on tacky Christmas memorabilia.
(Carrefour in case any of you Doha newbies are wondering!)
We've also started looking round for inspiration for each others' stockings. Rich loves a good Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles piece of tat, so his is going to be pretty easy to fill.
2. By putting our decorations up as early as we possibly could
And by that, I mean yesterday, 1st December. It just felt a bit wrong to do it any earlier!
Is there anything else that makes you feel as homely as a glowing Christmas tree in the dark?
We took a few snaps for the annual Christmas card (joking, obvs...)
And then set about sorting out the rest of our decorations.
Christmas has now officially arrived in my household.
3. By recreating some traditions from home
For me, this means heading to theatre for a special Christmas show, so we took advantage of The Sound of Music coming to town and got dressed up for an evening at the theatre on Saturday.
The whole production was beautifully put together, with some very talented cast members (the youngest children in particular), so I was really sad to see so many empty seats in the audience!
We also snuggled in with a festive film last night to get us in the mood (complete with a Thornton's chocolate bear for company). Arthur Christmas is heart warming and hilarious. If you haven't seen it yet, give it a watch - I guarantee it will make you laugh and cry all at once!
4. By getting involved in anything Christmassy that's on offer
There are Christmas events happening all over Qatar - you've just got to seek them out. After a little research (thank you TimeOut Doha!), we have come up with an itinerary that involves a Christmas tree lighting ceremony, Christmas-themed afternoon tea, Christmas carols, a special 4-course Christmas Eve meal...and more. Yes, I know this all sounds a bit like organised fun, but we haven't got much to work with over here folks, and it's important to book things early!
5. By spending some quality time with our adopted Doha family
When you don't have close family around to share in your festivities, it's imperative that you look to your expat family to bring the cheer. A friend of ours is putting on a Christmas quiz for a few of us next week and after our own Christmas dinner on the day itself, we will be joining friends for some festive drinks. I know that having some of these special people around us will soften the blow of spending Christmas apart from our loved ones.
6. By embracing a 'different kind of Christmas'
There is absolutely no point in trying to replicate every little thing from the Christmases we are used to back home. If anything, that would just make us pine all the more for what we can't have! When else in our lives are we going to be able to go for a balmy walk along the beach on Christmas morning? Or sit on our balcony to play the obligatory board game, rather than snuggling inside by the fire? When else would we head down to a five star hotel for drinks to celebrate Christmas day coming to a close, or even for breakfast to celebrate it starting?! We are going to have to accept that this Christmas is going to be different from any other we'll ever have again - and I have a feeling we might quite enjoy it.
I'm really looking forward to posting about what we've got up to in the coming weeks as we build up to The Big Day! Are any of you spending Christmas away from home? What are you doing to help keep the Christmas spirit alive?