Christmas in the UAE… It does exist!!!

It is a Christmas favorite of mine. Watching holiday commercials. Whether it is Ronald McDonald ice-skating on a frozen pond with a group of boys and some cartoon animals or whether it’s a bowl of Campbell’s soup that melts a snowman into a freckled boy, commercials have a way of capturing the magical moments and emotions of the season. One of my all time favorites is the MnMs Christmas spot.

Christmas Gold 

Mr. Red and Mr. Yellow MnM take a nighttime candle lit stroll into their festively decorated living room to find St. Nick himself doling out presents. The surprise on the two candied faces are equated only by the look of wonder on that of Santa Clause.

“HE DOES EXIST!”

“They do exist!!!”

Mr. Red and Santa instantaneously faint.

I experienced these same wondrous moments a lot growing up. That is why Christmas is my favorite holiday. It is simply magical. Last year I was too focused on getting home to see my family, my friends, and propose to my fiancée to see some of the magic here in Abu Dhabi that I experienced growing up in Philadelphia. My sight was clouded with visions of a place thousands of miles away, and this was all before my Thanksgiving turkey was fully digested.

This go around, however, I have been able to both look forward to the times ahead with family and friends while also enjoying the holiday season here in the United Arab Emirates. And despite the majority of the people here celebrating their country’s National Day rather than Christ’s birth, the magic is still evident.

There is a sparkle in the snowflakes that adorn the local buildings, as well as our apartment. There is joy in the notes of the Oud that plays in front of the Galleria Mall with snow dusted evergreens in the background. There are Christmas Carolers in the sand dunes, boisterously so. And there is the aroma of cinnamon, caramel, and roasted chestnuts which greet me as I step off the elevator in my apartment building – my wife bought a ‘Tis’ the Season’ candle.

I will arrive home to Philadelphia in a few days to find scarve’d window shoppers and warm seasons’ greetings, but it won’t be an abundant culture shock, because the feeling has been present here in the Middle East all along. The feeling lives on.

The Christmas season is a wonderful time of the year where magic is alive. It becomes a tangible commodity that drifts among the Peppermint Mochas and the Holiday Light Shows. It strums across the heart strings of the young children experiencing this precious season of joy for the very first time. And no matter where you go in the world, the magic is there, whether you celebrate Christmas or not. So, and I say this with the warmest of smiles, and while holding a cup of hot chocolate…

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.