Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Desert Christmas


Photo courtesy of M. Noriega

For some, religion is the most important aspect of the holiday, whilst for others it's an opportunity for families to get together.

Christmas can be a time of presents and parties but also a period of sadness and isolation, especially for OFWs.

Last week we had a party in the desert in time for the HAJ holidays.

Christmas in the Middle East can be hard work.

When I got back from my vacation, I carried with me a Christmas Tree and some decorations which I bought from National Bookstore - Manila. The customs officials tried to impound the tree, saying that this is not allowed in Saudi.

Smuggling a Christmas tree in may seem like harmless reflection on the tough life in Saudi Arabia.

After some gentle persuasion - gentle being the right word as we don't like to push my luck at such a delicate time - he let me off with the tree after I show him my affiliation with a 5-star hotel that I need the tree for the interior design of the hotel.

I feel pretty lucky to be able to bring the tree.

Christmas is different in Saudi Arabia. But life here, on the whole, is OK.

Because we live in a 3-storey apartment with about 40 other Filipinos (including Filipino Muslims), we limit our Christmas activities last night by just sharing food and greet each other from 9:00 to 10:30 pm. After that, everyone went inside their rooms spending more time chatting with their loved ones thru the net. (Fortunately, we were able to get DSL last month.)

In private compounds and campuses, where Christmas and other non-Islamic religious observances were permitted, so long as they were "low-key", some Filipinos, with their families and friends, drove inside as long as they are on the list of the guests at the gate. Roasted turkeys, wines and other merry-making activities were done without any apprehension as long as you won’t drive home drunk in midnight or early morning. It’s better to stay until mid day inside the compound for safety reason.


Today is Christmas Day, and even some of us spent last night discreetly with friends, we have to go back to work.

Merry Christmas to all!!

1 comment:

chase said...

merry christmas!!!
uu nga my mom called us on the eve of xmas.. and you know na how moms are.