Anyway, while our Christmas was not white, it was very merry! So much so, in fact, that I completely forgot to take pictures! How lame is that??!? I don't know what came over me. I suppose it was because it was dark on Christmas Eve/Christmas morning, but my camera has great nighttime settings...
Regardless, we had a good time! We invited a lovely friend from church to spend Christmas Eve with us--she works as a contractor here and doesn't have any family around. She came and we ate a yummy Christmas Eve dinner of ham and potatoes, veggies and fruit salad and homemade rolls... AND I made my newest favorite creation: Pumpkin Pie! Yes, yes, pumpkin pie is not new... however, mine is dairy, gluten and sugar free (I even made a nut free one for Claire) and it is the BEST pumpkin pie you'll ever eat. I'm probably biased, and I wouldn't actually tell you that it's the best pie in the world if I were talking to you in person, but on paper it's ok. :D
After our Eve feast, we opened our traditional Christmas Eve present (the pj's, of course), got dressed in our pj's, and went out for our traditional search for Christmas lights. Now, one might think that living in the Middle East, that would be pretty hard to come by. Luckily for us, we live in Jordan--the country with the highest population of Christians in the Middle East! AND, it just so happens that the 'Christian Quarter' (a small city called 'Al Fuhays') is just outside of Amman and not a far drive! So, off we went with our friend to help us find the way (THANK YOU Shannon! Without you, we never would have found the place!!) to see some Christmas lights! It was amazing! Almost every store was decorated (sometimes OVERLY so) with lights--every other house had lights up! Some houses looked like Gingerbread houses! Some had big messages scrolling through! It was so cool! And I love that Amman (well, Jordan in general, really) is VERY hilly, so instead of just seeing the street you were driving on, all the houses/lights were in 3D going up and up and up! :) So neat! We found the site where the biggest Christmas tree in the Middle East was found (not a huge feat, really, since how many Middle Eastern countries have a large Christmas tree on display??) and got out of the car to see it. This is where I feel so devastated that I didn't have the camera! I suppose I didn't bring it because I didn't expect to get out of the car and have any lighting to take pics...a good assumption since we were all in our pj's--me in a nightgown and wearing fluffy slippers! HA! Now that would have made a good picture, right? Anyway, we saw the tree and it was so awesome on so many levels! First off, seeing a Christmas tree in the Middle East is just cool in and of itself. Then, we discovered that while the tree trunk and the tip-top of the tree itself were real, it was a sort of lodge-pole pine-esque tree, so in order to make it look more full and Christmas-y, the bottom all the way to about 3/4 the way up was a fake 'shell' of branches! Ha! There were some flood lights on the inside of the fake branches shining out. The kids kept yelling how the tree was a fake (made me think of Elf when Buddy realizes that the dept store santa is a fake...), and the top 'real' part of the tree didn't appear to have a lot of strength to support the star, so it was bending over pretty far. I didn't notice any elves ready to bungee jump down and catch it if it were to slip, so I was a little nervous! :) Tand to make matters worse, there was a sweet nativity scene up by the tree, and the kids noticed the cherub hanging from the ceiling and they kept yelling out, "Mom! Look! The Angel is NAKED!" Yes. Thanks for that.
So, after seeing the fake tree and the naked angel, we loaded back up in the car and stopped at a fruit stand on the street to buy our favorite Christmas treat: Bananas! Ha! (AlFuhays is a farming town, so there are a LOT of local fruits and veggies there for super cheap!!)
We got home and read Christmas stories until the kids (and our friend Shannon, too--we must be really boring readers!) all fell asleep, then Santa came and Devin and I went to sleep hoping the kids really would sleep in until 6am like they promised! :) (Although, I admit I woke up at 4 and wondered if I should just go wake everyone up...the excitement never dies!)
We spent the rest of the day watching movies and eating... That makes for a lovely Christmas Day. In the Evening, we read the Christmas story again and had another discussion about it. I felt like this year was much more balanced than Christmas has been in the past. We did lots of 'secular' activities to do with Santa and pop culture, but we spent just as much time in the Bible and learning about the life of Jesus. That makes it the best Christmas yet.
Merry Christmas, Everyone!