Christmas?! Now?!

So, I’m finding it hard to get in the Christmas spirit this year. Could it be because I’m doing it a month early and it’s 80°F outside and sunny, sunny, sunny? Quite possibly. But we’ve been advised that our packages should be in the mail between Nov. 18-Dec. 2 in order to reach the states, so I’m cranking things out. Got our international packages out this week, hoping they’ll reach the globe’s corners before the New Year.

But the mood just isn’t right. Christmas prep is about shopping in the Mall with the girls, eating Auntie Anne’s pretzels and guzzling gallons of Diet Coke while we try to remember we’re shopping for others, not ourselves. Or it’s about making day trips to Annapolis or Alexandria. I guess it’s really about hanging out with friends.

I did do a bunch of shopping here with friends, but it’s just such a different environment (no pretzels, but I can always get bread from someone’s open basket, and of course there’s no where you can go and not get “Coca-Cola Light”). The good part about all this is that Cairo is a city for gift-giving. The volume of possible handicrafts, or Pharaonic paraphernalia is never-ending (so you’ve all been forewarned – make room for a life-size sarcophagus in the lounge).

While I have made some wonderful friends here, this is the first time I’ve felt home-sick in Cairo. I guess it’s something I’ll have to get used to, and I’ve never not been (I know, double negative, but it’s more effective) somewhere cold for Christmas. While wrapping presents on the dining table the other night I almost put in a Christmas movie to try to get in the mood, but really just didn’t feel like it. And I’m writing this with the Muslim call to prayer in the background (despite it happening five times a day, I really do rarely notice it).

I’m not whining, well, much. And the first weekend after Thanksgiving I will diligently put up our Christmas tree, which I’m sure will help things feel more festive. Christmas and Thanksgiving are about friends and family and traditions. And even in our circle in the states we’ve always added (and subtracted) people along the way. And Thanksgiving was the first time I met all of Ron’s immediate family (and despite him trying to convince me of erroneous family traditions, including his attempt to get me to wear a bonnet for Easter brunch, his family was all very welcoming), so I guess this year we’re just shaking up the traditions a bit and adding some new friends. Just modifying a tried-and-true recipe.