This is my sixth Christmas in Jordan, a predominantly Muslim country, where the observation of the holiday is rather limited. In Madaba and Fuheis there are substantial Christian populations, so the celebrations there can be quite lively.
My first and second Jordanian Christmases saw us decorating the tree, exchanging gifts, and cooking goodies. After that, it rather lost its luster and the Christmas decorations have lain in storage for four years.
To be fair, Zeek and the boys made valiant efforts to celebrate it with me. But, it’s not a Muslim holiday, is it? They went with me every year to Fuheis to see the tallest Christmas tree in Jordan, lit by Her Majesty the Queen, Herself. We went to Madaba to see their gargantuan tree and visit some of the churches.
Come February, 2015 Zeek and I will be traveling to the United States. Already, I’m looking forward to reviving old traditions and forging new ones.
In our family, my siblings, their families, and I would gather at the parent’s house on Christmas Eve. After a supper we’d all contributed to cooking we’d exchange gifts and enjoy coffee and drinks, liberally seasoned with laughs and good cheer. My contribution was usually a ham I’d picked up in a local shop whose name escapes me for the moment. It was spiral cut and cooked to perfection. Bonita always prepared a turkey, and there’s a very good chance it was the best turkey on any table in Alabama. Probably in the South.
I’d go up a day early and jump in the kitchen with her and the girls. There would be sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and giblet gravy, macaroni and cheese, as only Bonita can make them, tons of other vegetables, and I’d make some biscuits. Cakes and pies rounded out the menu. The tables fairly groaned under the weight and we all groaned afterwards.
Christmas Day would find us at my sister, Bonita’s house with her family for discovering what Santa had left for the three girls, and another holiday meal. The afternoon was generally spent sipping coffee, nibbling at desserts and swapping tales.
Since Michael and I lived some distance away, we usually took our leave of the family in mid-afternoon so we could be prepared to return to our jobs next day. I always left the family with a sense of warmth and joy tempered with relief that the holidays were nearly done for and life could return to normal in just a few more days.
I’ve missed those holidays with the people I call family, and I hope that after being away for so long, I can find my place amongst them again.
Wherever you are, whoever you are with, I wish you the merriest Christmas of your life. May you and your loved ones feel the blessings of peace and harmony today and throughout your lives!
Here are a few more pictures of Christmas in the Holy Land. Enjoy!