Dubai Diaries: What is Christmas without the rush?

At the last minute there is always a scramble to get things done.


Kirstin Bernabe

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Published: Thu 23 Dec 2021, 2:25 PM

This morning, as I dragged my sleepy head down the stairs, towards the living room — a whiff of pine woke me up. It was a nudge from the tree at the corner: Hey, Christmas is here.

I couldn’t help but smile as the angel on top of our rustic tree caught my eye. Mum has created another masterpiece by mixing and matching some red, gold and crystal ornaments I didn’t think we had.

Then, my gaze fell at the bottom: Our stuffed elves and reindeers were sitting neatly under the tree. And guess what? Not a single gift was in sight— four days before Christmas.

What exactly are we waiting for? Santa Claus? I don’t remember sending any letter (plus, I don’t have the time to look back on the year that was and assess whether I’ve been naughty or nice.)

Trying to distract myself from the predicament — that is getting all the presents ready, not just for mum and dad, but all the kids in our circle who will come rocking around the Christmas tree —I asked my husband: “So, what’s our menu for the 24th and 25th?”

“Hmm, I don’t remember your mum and dad talking about it,” he said. And I also have no idea.

First things first, I grabbed my phone and started browsing online shopping sites. I added toys, bath bombs, scented candles, socks, and knick-knacks to cart. Then I checked our list, twice, and made sure every item qualified for express delivery. Remember, we still have to wrap all of them by Thursday evening at the latest. Then, I called up some of my favourite pastry shops and asked about their festive cakes. “I need one for the 24th. Can you please deliver?”

I also rang some kabayans who make our traditional roast for the season. “Can I order two kilos for the 24th?”

I got a one-line response from 85 per cent of them, from the bakers to the roasters: “Sorry, we’re fully booked.”

What do I expect? This scenario is not new. We had a lot of opportunities to learn from our mistakes, but we never did. We still buy presents at the last minute; whip up dishes using ingredients we can buy from the supermarket; and allow ourselves to go through the hassle of making frantic calls to caterers and bakeries.

Is it tiring? Sure. It’s frustrating, too. When I saw a onesie for our baby that says ‘I Sob. You Rock.’ (from John Mayer’s album Sob Rock), I knew I had to get it as a gift for my husband, a big JM fan. If only I had ordered it five months ago…

This is perhaps the most hectic week for our family. But when Christmas finally comes along, everything just falls into place and nothing else matters — except the joy of spending time with loved ones.

I can promise right here, right now that I’ll plan well in advance next year, but I’d rather not. After all, what is Christmas without the rush?

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