x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

A holiday with double the pleasure

This will be the cheesiest Christmas I can muster, complete with midnight mass, satsumas in stockings, Bing Crosby ballads and a Boxing Day TV adaptation of a Dickens classic.

The UAE has been home to my family for nearly 15 years and winter is the only season that finds me hankering for foreign shores and cooler climes. Though I have spent many a merry Christmas in the sun, I still find it almost impossible to reconcile the festive season with balmy weather, and so I decided this year to head for Britain.

Imagine my delight, therefore, at hearing the BBC World Service's recent announcement of "severe weather warnings for Scotland, Northern Ireland and much of England". Exceeding all my expectations of a white Christmas, the big freeze has already hit the UK ahead of next weekend and there's more bad - or rather good - weather on the way.

I'm giddy at the prospect of crunching my way through acres of powdered snow and equally excited to be staying in what bears more than a passing resemblance to a gingerbread house. All of which has led me to believe that this might just turn out to be the picture-perfect Christmas of my childhood.

Things lacking from my Middle East annual celebrations have been the delicious smell of a Norwegian spruce tree, which inevitably, due to its positioning too close to the radiator, sheds pine needles endlessly, resulting in much-frenzied vacuuming before guests arrive. I have also missed whiling hours away, opening presents and munching mince pies in front of a roaring open fire with my cheeks aglow like hot coals. All of which I intend to rectify and recreate as soon as I arrive in the sleepy village of Blackheath just outside London.

Yes, indeed, this will be the cheesiest Christmas I can muster, complete no doubt with midnight mass, satsumas in stockings, Bing Crosby ballads and a Boxing Day television adaptation of a Dickens classic. One break with tradition, however, will be the festive fare. With none of the brethren assembled for the main meal particularly partial to turkey, we will instead be dining on goose. Banished thankfully, too, will be steaming bowls of Brussels sprouts.

That said, come December 28 and with my winter wonderland having melted to black slush due to stampedes of bargain hunters hitting the high-street sales, I know I'll be yearning for Dubai again. Joyfully and with not a second to mourn Christmas's passing, upon my return I'll get to do it all again and mark the day the way I normally would with a sun-drenched family evening celebration, which promises to be anything but a Silent Night.