Dubai's Desperate Housewife

Trials and traumas of a full-time mum in Dubai

Posts Tagged ‘Christmas

Overheard in the Christmas holidays

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“I’m not buying that for you now: Christmas is coming!”

Wrap me and I won't be responsible for my actions...

Wrap me, munchkin, and I won’t be responsible for my actions…

“If you fiddle with those presents, you’re not having them!”

“No, I’m not buying it: Santa might bring it!”

“If you don’t behave, I’m taking one present out from under the tree!”

“Remember: Santa’s watching you…”

[“When does school go back?”]

“No, darling… it’s not a kitten.”

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December 21, 2014 at 9:36 pm

Welcome to The Christmas Challenge

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I don’t know why the Christmas holidays are called that. Perhaps for some they’re a holiday but for me, and for every other mother I can imagine, the so-called “holidays” should be called The Christmas Challenge.

Getting everything done that needs to be done in late December, with the extra bonus of small children underfoot, must surely be the ultimate challenge of the academic year. In fact, I’m beginning to think that the whole autumn term, with its breakneck schedule of inter-house netball matches, Christmas parties, school concerts, after-school activities, school photos, parents’ meetings and dance classes the other side of town is just a warm-up for the craziness of the December school holidays.

At least my Bionic face serum makes me feel I may have special powers

Bionic Face Serum – what every mum needs at Christmas

You need to be a bionic woman to get through it.

Take the other night. Within a 15-minute time slot, I was simultaneously cooking the dinner, helping DS make Play Doh ice creams, helping DD sort out her computer issues, supervising the washing-machine delivery man (because, oh yes, this week my three-year-old washing machine chose to die with a blood-curdling scream), briefing the gardener and fielding a work phone call from the UK.

That’s before you get me onto the cloak-and-dagger business of buying and wrapping gifts for eagle-eyed children in their presence, not to mention bribing them not to tell their father what you bought for him (“Daddy! I promise we haven’t – I said we HAVE NOT – bought you cuff links and a Pink shirt!” Giggle, giggle. Facepalm).

And I don’t even have house guests. Merry Christmas!

Written by mrsdubai

December 24, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Santa’s watching you (and me)!

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I realised the value of this sentence when DD was just two years old – and I’ve used it ever since, especially in December, when it definitely holds the most sway.

But, this year, with DD about to turn a very grown-up nine, it doesn’t seem to work so well, and DS – the rebel – doesn’t give a monkey’s at the best of times.

“So, I won’t get many presents,” he says with gangster swagger. “I don’t care…” and I’m torn between a) being proud of my little Buddhist for not caring as much about material things as his sister did and b) wishing he’d just buckle down and do what I ask without the threats.

Anyway, if I want to get through the last week of term, if I want to get DS dressed, breakfasted and out the door without tears every morning for the last week of what has been a marathon of an autumn term, I need to pull something out of the hat.

And here’s my solution: a free iPad App called Santa’s Naughty or Nice Test.

Just place your sweaty little finger on the scanner and Santa does the calculations. Genius.

Just place your sweaty little finger on the scanner and Santa does the calculations. Genius.

Before you let your little minions put their fingers onto the finger scanner to find out if they’ve been naughty or nice, you simply click into ‘settings’ and decide what percentage naughty or nice they’ve been. So – if DS threw his dinner on the floor, uh-oh baby, he’s been 85 per cent naughty today (“try to do better tomorrow, darling”) and if DD has been her usual self, she gets, maybe 70 per cent nice (“Wow! See if you can get 80 per cent tomorrow!”).

“But you do it, mummy, you do it!” they shout.

No problem.

“It’s just re-setting,” I tell them as I sneak into settings, then place my finger on the scanner while they watch holding their breaths.

“Oh look… mummy’s been 100 per cent nice,” I say. “Santa says so.”

What’s not to love about an App like that?




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December 16, 2013 at 9:39 pm

Maintaining the magic of Santa

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It was easy to dupe the children about Santa when they were young. But, with DD now eight, we’re getting to the point where her friends know that he’s not real. I’m keen, though, to maintain the magic for as long as I can – if only for DS’s sake. He’s only four – he deserves a good few more years till he finds out the truth.

Maintaining the magic... it gets harder every year

Maintaining the magic… please don’t ask too many questions!

But, each year, maintaining the mystery gets harder.  First, there’s the issue of where I hide the stocking presents. It used just to be in the wardrobe in the spare room.  DD would never look in there. But now she’s older I can’t guarantee she won’t rummage about. If she finds the stash of stocking presents they’re as good to me as thermal socks in a Dubai summer: I can’t give them to her and I’ll have to start again.

Then there’s the issue of what to put in the stocking. If I get it too right – if I put in things that the children actively want, does that make Santa a little too clever for his own good? Does he have a little too much insight into which novelty erasers DD already has, and which she still needs? (“Well, Santa is watching you, darlings.”)

And, finally, there’s the issue of packaging. For years I’ve saved a secret roll of wrapping paper to use on the gifts from Santa. I never wanted DD to say, “How come Santa’s used the same wrapping paper as you?” But now she’s even older and wiser, should I decant gifts from their shop packaging? I just imagine her saying. “Oh look, mummy, Santa went to Claire’s Accessories and Daiso. How did he do that without anyone noticing? Does he wear jeans or something? Do you think it was Mirdif City Centre?”

Definitely Christmas this year is the hardest to date. And I haven’t even tried to sneak the stocking into their rooms at midnight yet…

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December 10, 2013 at 9:02 pm

The first day of Christmas…

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There’s a rule in my house: Christmas is not mentioned until the Halloween costumes are sold on Dubizzle. Which takes about a week.

Usually, we manage to stick to it – to be honest, to start thinking about Christmas when it’s still reaching 40C outside and you haven’t yet turned on your hot water switch because you’re getting enough hot water for three showers, one bath, 10 dishes of washing up, a load of washing and DH’s shaving, all from the heat of yesterday’s sun, is quite ridiculous.

Only 11 weeks to go! So glad it's in my diary already!

Only 11 weeks to go! So glad it’s in my diary already!

But there is one thing that, a little like the UK’s daffodils pushing through the cold, hard earth being the first sign of Spring, heralds the onset of the slippery consumer-slope to Christmas in Dubai – and that, thank you to my friend A for prompting this post by the way, is the day that the community’s “festive” leaflet is left to grill in the sun on the marble front path.

It’s put down at 10am and burnt to a crisp by lunchtime.

And, I hate to mark the passing of the seasons in such a way, but let’s just say: this year the Halloween costumes are not even delivered, yet the festive leaflet has arrived.

Oh yes. Christmas in my community is a-coming.  The leaflet invites us to “embrace the Spirit of Festivities” – to “Delight, Toast, Cheer, Sip, Savour, Dance, Indulge and Feast” with such delights as the Festive Turkey Take-Away (£150 for 8kg, no veggie option), attend the Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony (glad that’s in the diary already – it’s only 10 weeks away), partake of the Christmas-Buffet-With-Santa (not the real one), and stuff ourselves silly at the Christmas Lunch Buffet on Christmas Day, followed by the Boxing Day Brunch (in case were still hungry).

I’m not even going to mention the New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner and the New Year’s Day Brunch. By the time I get to book that, they’ll be advertising 2014’s Maypole Dance.

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October 8, 2013 at 9:59 pm

Silent Sunday: The Santa installation

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As Santa pops up in the palms,  I have to admit this is by far the most stylist Santa installation I've ever seen on my compound

As Santa pops up in the palms, I have to admit this is by far the most stylist Santa installation I’ve ever seen on my compound

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December 9, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Putting up the Christmas tree

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I dread it. I really do. Ever since the children became old enough to “help”, this stopped being a pleasure undertaken with a glass of mulled wine and Bing Crosby on the stereo and became a challenge in which I try very hard not to shout (unless I do it in secret when the children are in bed, but that kind of defeats the purpose, no?).

The rigmarole starts, in about November, with the nagging: “When can we put up the Christmas tree? When? When?”

With more bald patches than Bruce Willis' head

With more bald patches than Bruce Willis’ head

And, when I finally agree to do it, the excitement is unbearable. The children rip open the boxes of baubles, reacquainting themselves with last year’s decorations while I try to stop the decorations, some of which are precious and some homemade by the hands of babes, from being smashed and tangled and the boxes from being squashed.

Then the tree comes out. We have an artificial tree, the branches of which have to be slotted into place starting at row A and working up to row G. DD is keen to help. But, by the time we’re at row C, she declares that her arms ache and she’s bored. DS lies down in the Christmas-tree box and asks me to close the lid. They both want a snack.

My arms ache, my back aches and I’m bored, too, but someone’s got to do it, so I soldier on while they chomp gingerbread men and ask when they can start putting on the baubles.

Next come the lights and blow me down if the naughty lighting fairy hasn’t tangled the lights I put away so carefully last January into a spaghetti junction of a mess that takes at least half an hour to detangle, while I try simultaneously to stop DS from jumping on the tiny bulbs.

I get the lights up – two sets. They work. By now I’m sweating.

 “What colour scheme shall we go for this year?” I ask the children, surveying our massive collection of decorations. “Purple and silver? Cream and gold? Gold and silver? African? Homemade?”

“Let’s go for multicolour,” says DD. “That means we just put everything on.”

And they do – with no sense of balance or aesthetic. But I guess that’s the point. While my children are small, I have to kiss goodbye to any concept of a chic tree. If you come over this season, just look the other way. And don’t ask if I’ve fostered a six-armed, colour-blind gnome.

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December 3, 2012 at 8:37 pm

‘Tis the season for blow-dried grannies

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With Christmas just around the corner, the annual invasion of the grannies is now well underway. I see them all over the community, creaking out of airport taxis with their Duty Free gin, their sensible travel shoes and their ‘oliday blow-dries.

Oh nannima, how we wish you were here!


Every day, I see them fiddling with their bifocal sunglasses and blinking like badgers in the bright Gulf sunlight as they try desperately to keep up with the frenetic pace of their daughters’ lives. I mean, spare a thought for them: The blow-dried grannies in their easy-care slacks have, after all, been plucked from a life of mince pies and sherry under a blanket in front of the telly and dropped headfirst into a blur of champagne brunches, five-star beach clubs, 100-kilometre school runs, Polo Club lunches and visits to malls bigger than the quaint villages in which they live.

It’s no wonder they look confused.

But, as I watch the grannies pat their puffy hair and drop off the littuns at school and nursery with a wiggle of their wonky hips, I always feel a twinge of jealousy because they remind me of my own mum – DD and DS’s super gran – whom we’d dearly like to be here but who doesn’t “do” winter in Dubai because she doesn’t like to leave her house unattended in the depths of a British winter for fear that all sorts of nasty things might happen to it.

Fair point, I guess. But I still wish she was here. Dodgy hip, blow-dried hair, easycare slacks ‘n’ all.

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December 15, 2011 at 7:52 pm