Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Christmas Dolls

The Xmas Dolls: 2007, 2006, 2008 and 2009 (in blue)
The "silly season" is nearly upon us with more and more people bringing up the "C" word. Yes, there are only some 100 days left to Christmas, i.e. the season to wallow in gifts, emotions, gourmet meals, fruitcakes, puddings, pies, cheeses, drink -- well, practically everything.

But the spiritual side of December 25 is eroding little by little every year, swamped by gadgets, smart and mobile phones, iPods, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, apples, digital cameras and totally useless toys that are conked out before the turkey is carved and could have fed a family elsewhere for a month.
The shopping frenzy resumes with the Boxing Day sales, which end up taking us nearer our credit card limits. You can probably guess that I don't like Xmas much as I hardly ever afforded its trimmings.
The St. Louis Cathedral in Carthage (Wikipedia)
Until a few years back, Christmas meant Midnight Mass. I used to attend it with my late father at the beautiful 1890 Roman St. Louis Cathedral in Carthage, Tunisia. If I were visiting my sister, Asma, when in Mougins, in the South of France, we would walk around the village and attend Midnight Mass at the 17th century chapel, Notre-Dame de Vie. In London, there was a little church behind my flat, off Cheyne Place in Chelsea, where Xmas carols invariably reverberated on the Kings Road. But there too, the number of people attending Midnight Mass dwindled as the years went by.
Worshipers at St. Mary's in Dubai
But I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of people out for Midnight Mass on my first Christmas Eve here in Dubai. I went with friends to St. Mary's in Oud Metha Street, Bur Dubai. It took us an hour and half to get close by and park. By the time we did that, it was so packed that churchgoers were spilling over unto the street. But loudspeakers allowed them to hear the mass outdoors. The atmosphere was electrifying. St Mary's Catholic Church was founded in 1966 and inaugurated in 1967 by the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum (then Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai). It can now accommodate more than 1700 worshipers. There's also a second church in Jebel Ali, St. Francis of Assisi, which was inaugurated in 2001.
I have been fortunate to always spend Christmas with loved ones -- if not family, then very close friends. Which brings me to the Xmas gifts and the whole point of this story!!
The present I look forward to receiving at Christmastime is a very special one from Asma. The tradition began in 2006, the year of my first Christmas in Dubai. She sent me a doll  -- a rag doll sporting a funky dress. She has been repeating this every year since. They are special edition dolls that a drugstore in Cannes, where she now lives, put out every Christmas. So I have four ladies who take pride of place on my bed. and I can't wait to see what the 2010 edition will look like.
And so it is that while walking a friend's dog around Jumeira recently I spotted a little playhouse outside a villa. I thought it would provide a great setting to take pictures of my dolls. When I finally saw a car trying to park at the villa’s driveway, I hurried and rang the bell to ask permission to take photos. To my great surprise, Suki -- a lady I met about two years ago -- answered. We had lost contact and were both ecstatic to see each other again.

Music by Fairuz singing Jingle Bells (via on YouTube)

So I took the dolls out early last Friday morning to introduce them to you. They looked so small once they were off my bed!
Each one means a lot to me and is treated with the love it was forwarded with. Yalla Asma: I'm waiting for this year's Christmas present! So this week's Haiku is dedicated to you:
Bunch of love 
Every Christmastime
A doll and a bunch of love 
I will get from you...