Christmas in Windy City Afghanistan is a pretty quite affair. In this conservative city in an entirely Islamic country, Christmas as a holiday, does not exists.
So we do what we can to carve a space for Christmas in our home. It takes some work. We packed and brought with us candy canes, cookie cutters and advent calendars and my mom sent stockings and scented candles with folks who were flying here months ago.
We squirreled away presents and Mr Incredible proved his worth once again when going to Dubai for a conference went an entire day early so he could shop at Ikea and some grocery stores with not only my list, but lists from just about everyone in our expat community.
We baked and filled the house with the smells of caramel corn and sugar cookies and listened to Christmas music. We prayed for strong electricity and good internet and when we had both, we downloaded “The Muppets Christmas Carol” in keeping with my family’s tradition of celebrating with ice skating penguins and Gonzo doing Charles Dickens. And then we had to download it again when we saw that we’d gotten a copy that was in English and Russian. At the same time. With some sort of Scandinavian subtitles.
We even took Violet and Dash Christmas gift shopping with money they had earned earlier in the year. I’ll confess, this is where I missed America the most. The third time the electricity went out in the shop and we were plunged into pitch dark until the generators came on made me long for Target and a Starbucks and the easy fun of shopping so strongly I cried.
And on Christmas morning when both the electricity and the internet went out, Mr. Incredible rigged up a back up battery run on solar panels and the kids got to open their presents with Grandma and Grandpa looking on through the computer.
Christmas here really means community. Our small team celebrated Advent together every Friday and spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day together. We each did what we could to make it homey and special. Our British team mate made a proper Christmas cake and shared her special stash of Earl Grey tea. Our American team mates put together a scavenger hunt with fun clues for our kids to track down their gift. We skyped with our Aussie friend and made her tell us all about the hot summer Christmas she was enjoying.
It is hard to be so far away this time of year. Your Facebook posts, emails and calls meant so much to me and helped me feel a part of things on that side of the world.
You all are good people. But stop posting pictures of your peppermint lattes, mmmkay?