Christmas in Egypt
I like Christmas in Egypt. In the US I often feel like the Grinch (before his heart grows two sizes), but here I find only joy in the holiday.
In Egypt, Christmas is whatever we want it to be. Very few people here are celebrating Christmas (Egyptian Coptic Christians celebrate in early January), so we aren’t competing with crowds of grumpy holiday shoppers. And perhaps because expats spend a lot of money, shopkeepers are extra friendly and offer enthusiastic holidays wishes. And, most importantly to me, other people aren’t telling us what Christmas should mean to us.
The Christmas spirit isn’t just felt by expats in Egypt. Many Egyptian Muslim families buy trees, and Santa brings money to many of these kids.
There are some challenges. It’s tough to find good quality toys here, at least without a major schlep to the big mall across town (I’ve been there twice and really the only thing that’d draw me there again is the Mexican restaurant). But I bought most of the kids’ presents in London in October (the most fun shopping day of my life), so right now we’re mostly shopping for stocking stuffers and a couple extra small things.
We’re also not sure where to find a turkey, but if we substitute a chicken (of which there are plenty) and still have the other traditional fixings, we’ll be fine.
The biggest challenge is that we can’t be with our family. On the plus side, we don’t have to deal with the stress of holiday travel.
So really the challenges are pretty minimal. What is great is how much time off I have to spend with the boys. This week we’re going to head out to Fagnoon, one of our favorite places, where the kids can paint and screen print and shape clay on a foot-pumped wheel, and hang out at our club and maybe even bake cookies.
The irony is that in this Muslim country, I finally have the time and space to celebrate Christmas just as we want.
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