It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year…Except if You’re in Yemen

So apparently, it’s the holiday season, but I wouldn’t really know it. In Yemen, it’s 70 degrees every day; “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” hasn’t played once on the radio; and there are no commercials indicating that Mr.YemenEm should go to Jared or buy me a Mercedes with a red bow and deliver it to me in our driveway under a sky of gently falling snow while I greet his quietly extravagant present with a look in my eyes that says “I don’t know what I love more – you, or being so filthy rich.”

I knew the holidays would be different this year, but really they’ve been practically nonexistent and that kind of bums me out. It also makes me realize that, while people complain about that consumerism-driven time from Halloween to New Year’s, for all it’s stresses, it’s really a whole lot of fun.

It started with my fave, Halloween. I’ve always loved thinking up weird costumes for Halloween and dressing up for laughs. From childhood gems such as half man/half woman, lady who just woke up in the morning, old lady (with all items from the Salvation Army that really looked like they were from the early 20th century) to adult costumes such as “Devil Ann Coulter” (yep, I lived in DC), and last year’s Scotch, the Drink. Halloweens in Washington DC are so fun. Not even because the parties are anything spectacular, but because people pick the most Inside the Beltway, current political event costumes that 90% of the rest of the country wouldn’t get or just wouldn’t think were funny. But I think they’re hilarious. And I’m sad I missed out on what was probably a slew of well-executed “women in binder” variations this year. No joke, one time a guy was breaking up with me, and in explaining all of the things we didn’t have in common, he said “You like your little dress up parties.” I said “That’s so condescending,” which probably didn’t mean much coming from someone dressed up as Abraham Lincoln. Mr.YemenEm and I were in Istanbul for Halloween this year. So it was hard to mourn not dressing up when were touring old mosques and churches, and eating tons of delicious food.

Then came Thanksgiving. I am almost always home with my family in Michigan save for a few times I stayed in DC, one of which was because I bought my plane ticket for Friday morning instead of Thursday. (Wondered why I got such a good deal!) So not being home was kind of sad, but hey, it’s just one day. A day that centers mostly around eating. So we figured we could recreate that here. So me, and some other people here who love to cook planned a great menu, went on several orchestrated trips to grocery stores, and cooked like crazy for two days. (Turkeys were shipped in for all the Americans living here, in case you’re wondering). We brought our meal over to celebrate with a handful of Marines in their house. It wasn’t the coziest or most personal of Thanksgivings, and I didn’t want to overstep my welcome by demanding that we configure a table at which to eat, or that everyone go around and say what they’re thankful for, or that everyone wear the Pilgrim and Indian headpieces I had crafted. So instead Mr.YemenEm and I just ate a ton, entered coma zone, and went home. The next day, we both had Thanksgiving hangovers and watched nine Episodes of The Wire, Season 3. Just like the Pilgrims did.

Now, Christmas is approaching. I suggested doing a big thing, but as a co-worker here pointed out, nothing we do is going to really feel like Christmas. I suppose it’s not a bad idea to consider this year’s holiday season a pass. But dammit, it’s my first Christmas with my Jewish husband in a Muslim country living in a haunted hotel with my coworkers and I just want it to be traditional, you know? But we’re already off to a shoddy start because we have no Christmas tree, no decorations, and I don’t know if I ordered Mr.YemenEm and I matching pajama sets to wear on Christmas morning that they’d arrive in time. But damned if I don’t try. Probably what I love most about Christmas is how cozy it is. PJs, snow, a fire, sipping hot mugs of coffee, YemenMom making me warm pigs in a blanket with veggie sausage. It’s like taking an Ambien and crawling into a grandma kangaroo’s pouch, it’s that effin cozy. And there’s no reason I can’t have that here. Our hotel room, despite being more than a little dated, is actually supes coze. So I will do my darndest to at least try and replicate the coziness that is Christmas morning.

Oh, and before anyone feels too bad, I should mention that Mr.YemenEm and I will be in Koh Samui, Thailand for New Years Eve. While New Year’s Eve is notoriously the most let-down of a holiday (due entirely to the fact that it is built up to be the most fun night of the year and it never ever is) I’m fully expecting it to be one of the best nights of my entire year.

Seasons Greetings,



  1. So excited you are going to Koh Samui!! I was there in 2007 and had the time of my life!! xoxo Merry Christmas and Happy New Years! – Jenny Stevens

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