However, if you are a dyslexic Mayan you might believe that the World is about to come to an end before then. You’ll just have to wait until the 21st to find out.
Back to the present day. I’m writing this on the 12th day of the 12th month of 2012. In my slightly obsessive way I see this as a pleasingly balanced date, and everything in my life will become aligned. It’s been a busy couple of years, moving house eight times in eight years, moving country twice, and I’m ready for a rest. But what woman really gets to put her feet up over Christmas?
Here is how I’ve been spending my time over recent weeks.
I’ve created an Excel spreadsheet to help me keep track of present buying and menus for various festive foods (did I mention I was obsessive?). Then the document disappeared inexplicably from my computer and I’ve been left in a state of disarray and panic that I’m about to approach the pinnacle of the Western calendar with no map.
I’ve been pouring over Pinterest to gather quirky ideas for decorating the house.
I’ve decided that for the first time in my 37 years I will make a Christmas cake (I don’t like dried fruit), and I’ve spent time designing what I’m sure will be a magnificent creation (read disaster).
I’ve been wracking my brains for fun activities I can do with the children and have settled on a reindeer snack made of porridge oats and sparkles to sprinkle on the garden.
I’ve been panicking that my five year old daughter has already spotted that our current accommodation doesn’t have a fireplace, so how is the big fellow in red going to visit?
Let me put some of this into context because Christmas will be completely out of context for us. We moved to Dubai a year ago from Chicago, where the snow is piled deep and crisp and even. The air was so cold you couldn’t breath. Christmas lights shone brightly in the clear air.
This year we live in a desert, where the sand is piled deep and gets everywhere. The air is so hot your lungs burn (so why am I thinking of cooking a hot Christmas dinner?). Christmas lights glow in the humid haze.
Now don’t get me wrong. If you’re reading this and you live in the southern hemisphere I’m sure a cold Christmas is just as strange to you as a hot one is to us.
Surely it’s about tradition. As an expat, family and cultural traditions anchor you when everything else around you is changing. It reminds you of your heritage, the path you’ve trodden to get to this day, and Christmas isn’t Christmas without a good dollop of nostalgia is it?
Now I just need to work out how Father Christmas is going to get into the house without a chimney to slide down.