Home for the holidays

So the kids are off school again, full of pent up energy and excited about the arrival of a man called Big Red in a few days’ time.

The great thing about this time of year is being able to throw the children outdoors to let off steam. If you live in the Northern hemisphere, I really don’t mean to rub it in, but the winter weather is perfect – clear skies, warm days, and cool enough in the evening to wear a sweater. Mostly inhabited by families, our neighbourhood is a hive of activity, with children running from house to house and riding their bikes in the sunshine.

Our eye-popping bougainvillea
Our eye-popping bougainvillea

The hot-pink bougainvillea that climbs frothily over our front wall looks stunning and, at night, the generous smattering of villas decorated with flashing Christmas lights is making the compound look delightfully festive. One street, in particular, is creatively lit with blinking bulbs on nearly every house (they could almost have had a Regent Street-style light switching-on ceremony).

Christmas wreaths hang on front-doors, and in the busier, touristy parts of Dubai, there are lines of palm trees with fairy lights coiled round the trunks.

Of course, you can’t step far without bumping into a Christmas tree either. The malls have been dressed up for the season, with trees several floors high and bedecked with dazzling ornaments. Santa has been putting appearances in too, and just across the road from my office, at the Dubai Christmas Fest, I hear they had snow falling on the hour and an outdoor skating rink.

Fairy lights twinkling in the dark

We’ve had carollers from the Philippines going from door to door with a guitar, spreading Christmas cheer round the compound; there’s ample opportunity to gorge on mince pies; and a neighbour’s annual carol-singing evening was a huge success – washed down with mulled wine.

Even if you’re not travelling back for Christmas, I just love the way Dubai makes expats feel as though they’re home for the holidays.

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