For fear parents didn’t have enough pressure to raise kids in a world where social media exposes prejudice, hate and terrorism, along with excess, idealism and useless trivia on a daily basis, we, the parents, either because we feel the need to create a balance or we’re just making life hard for ourselves have created a whole new phenomena, the Best Day Ever. Really, who thinks this stuff up?
Kids worlds today are not the same as when we were young. My world at Christmas when I was young was the two aisles of toys in Roches Stores, being content to be compelled to leave your toys and go to mass and the thrill of potato croquets with the dinner. We didn’t have a superstore catalogue, endless commercials about toys, Youtube or an opinion where and what to have for dinner. Somewhere along the line the door of possibility was flung open too wide and through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder. From that day on we’ve been trying to pull the door more shut, instil a little wholesomeness and thus the phrase was born, the Best Day Ever……. and was there ever a more daunting task.
Of course, like all things, living abroad and wanting your child to understand the significance of Christmas midst Diwali, Eid, Ramadan, is pressure stuff and expats will go to any length to create the perfect Christmas day. Hotels in Qatar, of course spot the opportunity in this and the chink of guilt that comes with raising your Catholic kids in a Muslim country. They open the door even wider to serve Christmas dinners that you can only dream about, (sans the ham and sausage stuffing). Menus starting at Eu. 175 per person for all you can eat and all you drink to the champagne package that costs Eu.250 per person. Expats are paying in the region of Eu.1,000 for Christmas Dinner out with the family. That’s without the presents and the sparkly clothes needed for said dinner. Imaginably a thousand euro dinner should result in or at least contribute to the Best Day Ever, but past experience has proven the opposite. Indeed the dinner and surroundings are amazing but so too is the bill which sees the expectations high and therefore likely to fail.
So given past experience, I’ve opted to aim for a Grand Day Out and not the Best Day Ever. Dinner for six at under half the cost and more to the point, quarter the expectation, aim low would be my advice when spending Christmas in Qatar, aim real low, but beware you may still be disappointed.
In an attempt to generate a little Christmas spirit and atmosphere I did attend a Christmas Tree lighting. The last tree lighting I attended was in Jakarta where Santa’s little helpers doubled up as hookers after nine. The first tree lighting I attended was in Ireland, where we stood, blue with the cold, waiting for all 10 of the lights on the tree to be lit, (it was the early nineties, the tiger hadn’t yet roared). I was hoping this would be in between.
On we went, to attend the lighting and visit Santa. The tree was lit and Santa sat waiting for each kids to come with their requests and for each mom to take the photo. I noticed that there was little dialogue between Santa and the children, this Santa obviously didn’t speak English.
When it came our turn I did the talking, all he would have to do is nod. ‘Santa, we’ve been very good and we want Lego, do you think you can manage that’, to my sons horror he shook his head rhythmically from side to side. My son’s eyes filled with tears, ‘he said no mom’ ‘he means yes’, I said. Adamant, my son said, ‘he definitely said no, he kept shaking his head’. Then reassurance came in the form of a Filipino Elf, ‘do no cry little boy, Santa is not real, this Santa is only man come from India not North Pole, mommy will buy you beautiful toys, you will see’.
Like I said, aim low, bring those expectations right down and have a very happy Christmas in Doha.