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With the weather turning so cold, I am getting into the mood for Christmas. So many preparations and events to look forward to. I am in the habit of having friends over for dinner on Christmas Day, the 25th December. Usually these are close neighbors, as during that season, the roads are rather difficult to negotiate, the fog is sometimes so thick you cannot see beyond the hood of the car. Some who are in neighboring compounds rent a room for the night at my compound’s hotel and feel relaxed through the evening.
A week before Christmas, mostly the same people who will be coming for dinner, are the ones who come over to help with decorating the tree and the house. This is a lot of fun as we shed our inhibitions and start acting really childishly. Christmas carols are on all the time, the fire is lit, and those who drink have wine, cheese and cold cuts to sustain us through the work. Of course non-alcoholic drinks are also available. The fun had by all is memorable, as we are quite capable of sticking decorations on one another, as much as on the tree or the stairs.
The evening of the dinner is usually a different type of fun. Not as uninhibited as the previous week, but fun nevertheless. As we all know one another well, we enjoy each other’s company, feel relaxed in each other’s company, but get all dressed up and have a really good dinner, and drinks galore. Again the fire is lit and soft Christmas carols playing in the background, the ambience enhanced by the candles and lighting.
I am one of those lucky people who get to celebrate Christmas twice. There is another celebration on January 7th which is the Eastern, Orthodox Christmas. This is a different kind of celebration, as family is included it usually takes place during the day to ensure that people coming from Cairo are able to get back home before dark. This is usually a noisier, less formal kind of celebration, where the kids run around, but the Christmas carols are still on, the fireplace also lit and the food and drinks continuous. The only difference is the tradition of distribution of small token presents to everyone present. This increases the feeling of anticipation and fun.
In between the two Christmases there is the New a Year to usher in. This, if no one is throwing a party, ends up with us all gathering in one of our homes and having a comfortable evening with friends.
This year I am really looking forward to all these celebrations. Unlike last year, this year we do not have a sword over our heads with the Muslim Brotherhood who were in charge. Though the threat of violence is always there, yet the general atmosphere is one of hope and cheer. We are all looking forward to getting together and celebrating this very special time of the year.
Merry Christmas and may 2014 be a blessed year to all.

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