Winter wonderland?

Bah humbug! I’ll take sunny days over snow any day, says Christine Kempell

If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas then you’re not going to find it here in Dubai. Well not unless you fancy lashing out a handful of dirhams to stand in the snow dome in a blue boiler suit surrounded by the stuff. If that floats your festive boat then fill your plastic boots, I say. Or get on a plane and go chase the chill. I know there are some of you out there who believe that you don’t get the same Christmassy feeling if it’s not freezing cold, but personally, I think cold is over-rated. I’ve never been a fan of the polo neck sweater or similarly throat restricting garments, which I imagine as a throw-back to my previous life when I was hung, drawn and quartered for illegally roasting chestnuts. Do we really need dramatic drops in temperature, a three-month promotional build up and the constant crooning of Bing Crosby to remind us of what is to come? The sunshine still manages to lull me into a false sense of security, which results in another year of panic present buying, but there’s something refreshing about how December creeps up on us unawares.

What we do get are blue skies, beautiful temperatures and the chance to emerge from the closeted air-conditioned gloom of the long sweaty summer months. We get to throw open our doors and let the warm breeze blow through the cobwebs. So what if this frivolity means dust settles on all the furniture? We get a light sprinkling of sand as opposed to a heavy flurry of snow and I can live with that. The kids may gaze wistfully at pictures of friends overseas frolicking in their winter woollies, but you know the reality of dealing with that type of extreme weather. After the initial excitement of waking up to a white winter wonderland, and after the first day of sledging, building snowmen and snowball fights, all you’re left with are dangerous driving conditions, mushy slush and chilblains.

If you miss gathering round a real fire and staring into the flames then I suggest you nip down to the local hardware shop and get yourself a fire-pit. A cast iron semi circle on legs, it’s a marvellous, if somewhat useless invention, designed for no other purpose than appealing to all those boys who never grew up or out of the desire to burn things. Gone is the dilemma of how to get rid of those broken garden chairs. Think how much fun you’ll have by getting out your chopper and chucking another bed slat on the fire to watch it crackle. Obviously you’ll have to reign in your little (and big) pyromaniacs into using only broken wooden furniture, or alternatively you could purchase expensive imported Norwegian slow-burning logs where you can literally watch your money go up in smoke. My family looks forward excitedly to ‘fire-pit season’ every year as we warm our toes and toast marshmallows in the garden. It’s not so good for the grass though, but for hours of cosy contemplation it’s a small price to pay. (Apart from those logs of course).

Even cooking the dreaded Christmas dinner and all the trimmings is a stress-free affair in Dubai, when you can order your perfectly roasted turkey to go. This allows plenty of time for being together as a family and reflecting on the true meaning of Christmas while the kids tear into their presents, without Mum stuck in the kitchen for hours worrying over her giblets. If you’re feeling ambitious and have a natural resistance to all strains of salmonella you could have a go at embracing the Southern hemisphere way by barbequing the beast. However you prepare your feast, if you fancy eating your Christmas dinner Al Fresco, then why not gather round the table outside to enjoy it. At least you know there’s no danger of the cutlery fusing to your fingers in the cold.

If you’re the type of person who gets a warm glow of happiness by a cold front coming in from the East, then maybe Christmas in Dubai is not your cup of tea. It may not be a cold white Christmas here, but it’s a warm and welcoming one, with some fantastic tree displays, a few motorised penguins and more than enough fairy lights to warm the cockles of your heart. You can keep your white Christmas thank you very much Bing. I’d rather have a sandy one and hit the beach.

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