Sunday, January 08, 2012

Gathering Up a Few Holiday Memories

No matter how much I simplify and/or prepare in advance, the days approaching Christmas are always busy but once when we sit down to Christmas dinner I breath an inner (and sometimes outer) sigh of relief, looking forward to the celebratory feast and the week of casual celebrating and relaxing with family and friends. The week between Christmas and New Years is my favorite week of the year.

We celebrated our first Christmas in our new home in Mafraq by joining the Christmas morning celebration at Annoor Sanatorium for Chest Illnesses. While the staff and some others received guests, mostly ex-patients and their families, the kids and I helped with crowd control for the children, as over one hundred children listened (well, mostly) to a presentation of the Christmas story.

After the morning festivities we scurried home to prepare for Christmas dinner, which we were delighted to share with friends from five different countries: Korea, England, Belgium, Egypt, and Sweden. As we enjoyed our dinner together, each shared Christmas traditions from our home countries. Did you know that cranberries are part of the traditional British Christmas dinner? Our hegemony is complete!

The day after Christmas was for sleeping in, staying in pajamas until noon, cleaning up, and receiving a few visitors come to wish us a blessed Christmas. Holiday visits are an important part tradition in both the Christan and Muslim community in Jordan.

Holiday treats served to guests

On Tuesday we took advantage of the nice weather and took a day trip to one of our favorite sites in Jordan: Um Qais, the ancient decapolis city of Gadara, where Jesus cast the swine out of the Gadarene. The ancient city overlooks the Sea of Galilee (Lake Tiberius) and the Golan Heights.

The Golan Heights are seen on the right, in the distance, and the Sea of Galilee, faintly, right in the center of the photo.

We attempted our annual family photo while in Um Qais, however we forgot the tripod, so the picture isn't the greatest and capturing the moment was a little stressful. Can you hear the commands we are muttering to each other through our smiles? I hope not!

I like this one of the kids:

My last cyclamen sighting of 2011, and my first of the new wildflower season:

Cyclamen persicum
Um Qais

After a long day outside, we spent too long searching for a good restaurant at which to enjoy a good Arab meal together.

Utopia, with it's retro-modern decor, way too many items on the menu, and few customers was a dubious choice for a good Arab meal, but the kabaab and shish-tawouk were delicious--the perfect end to a lovely day.

The rest of the week was spent lolling around, working on some felted wool items for the college kids, visiting friends, having friends up from Amman, reading books on all the new Christmas Kindles, eating too much sugar, and constructing the annual gingerbread house, made after Christmas for the first time.

Dear Husband and I welcomed the new year quietly, at home, while our kids celebrated with friends well past midnight. Our final celebration of the week was enjoying sweet fellowship and delicious salmon chowder for New Year's lunch with dear friends in Amman. Happy New Year and !كل عام وأنتم بخير God's richest blessings on you in the coming year!


Woman of the House said...

It looks wonderful! Your trip to Gadara and surrounding area is fascinating. And I'm jealous of your wildflowers. It's the dead of winter here, so there are no flowers (except the paperwhites I'm growing inside).

Anonymous said...

Looks like the column photo could be a good album cover! I also enjoyed seeing a modern-day photo of the Sea of Galilee, since I like to visualize the Bible stories as accurately as I can, at least.

Pardon my total ignorance, but do Muslims have a religious holiday at this time of year as well? (I'm asking since you mentioned holiday visits.)

Thanks for sharing your Christmas activities. They look fun, cranberries, gritted teeth, serious gingerbread concentration, and all ;-).