People who know me wouldn’t say that I am a miserable miser who’s got no friends. They would know that I’m not a big fan of Christmas, though. I absolutely loved it as kid. When I was little it wasn’t that popular in Lowlands Country to celebrate Christmas the way people celebrate it know. The feast of St Nicholas on the eve of 5 December was considered far more important. I think quite a lot has changed since then. Christmas became a bigger and (obviously) far more commercial event, I grew older and experienced more family stress then joy during Christmas and on a spiritual level it seems the meaning of Christmas is completely lost to most people .
It would have been nice to see family and friends and to be able to communicate with people in a culture and language we all understand but for several reasons I decided to stay in Alex and I have to tell you; I like it. Firstly there is the weather. Europe is being plagued by fierce winter weather that brings whole societies to a stand still. It might be windy here in Alex but when the sun is shining one could consider it t-shirt-and-flip-flops weather. Secondly, Christmas doesn’t seem to exist. Egypt has a Christian minority, which does not celebrate Christmas on 24/25 December. With the exception of hotels and bars frequented by expats there are no signs of Christmas. No trees, no decoration, no tv-ads, no mayhem in the shops, no spend-money-you- don’t-have-on-stuff-other people-(don’t) say they-want-why?- because -it’s-Christmas,-innit?, no go-stuff-your-face- like- there- is- no-tomorrow-and-getting-stressed about-preparing- the-supper of-suppers, no be- prepared-for-the-day- that-the-whole-world-comes-to- a stand-still (in London all shops are closed by law and there is no public transport(!)).
On Christmas Eve I will enjoy dinner with some newly made friends which I am very looking forward to. Then I can go about my business. Meet some friends, smoke sheesha, study, watch some films, enjoy the winter sunshine and, maybe most importantly, redefine Christmas. What does it mean to me? A time of contemplation of reflection. A time of looking back and looking ahead. Christmas is the pagan’s Mid Winter Feast, Yule, Feast of Light, Feast of Hope, Feast of Abundance. Christmas is the the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the bringer of peace and justice, salvation and the Kingdom of God. I wish to celebrate this as I please without the social pressures attached to it. I wish this Christmas to be a time of light, of hope, of being grateful, of peace with yourself and others, of warmth, of love, of inspiration of renewed energy, of focus and pleasure. The only way is up, baby. For you and me, now.
Warm Yule Wishes,