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Published: December 24th 2011
I woke up one rainy morning in Beirut with nothing more to do than to formulate an exit strategy. With Israel to the south (only bombs are allowed to cross the Lebanon-Israeli border), and Syria to the east and north, my options were limited. Although, I’m not going to lie, I was going to go through Syria. I’d read the current news and spoke to both Lebanese and Syrians about the safety of such a trip. They all assured me that the road through Damascus would pose no threat to my life – beyond those we face everyday. Then more fighting broke out in the south and the Canadian government began to evacuate al of its citizens from the country. My hopes of getting a Syrian visa were killed alongside 17 Syrians. My only option was to leave Beirut by air, and I was checking flights to every Middle Eastern nation for the cheapest rate.
About an hour into my search, Leo, a German studying Arabic in Beirut stopped by with manoushe, a sort of pizza and the cornerstone of Lebanese breakfast. While we ate, he animatedly spoke about returning to Germany for the holiday. I don’t remember exactly who
Merry Christmas from Munich!
Christmas Market, Marienplatz
suggested I go there as well, but the conversation went something like this:
Leo: “I’m so excited for Christmas ham in Munich, jah.”
Me: “You’re going to Munich for Christmas? Will you give my mother a hug for me?”
Leo: “Jah, of course. If you want, I can bring to her a present also.”
Me: “Really? Yeah! That’d be great!”
Unknown voice of reason: “Why don’t you just bring it to her yourself?”
Me (with a look of consternation): “Why don’t
I just go bring it to her myself?”
I erased Tehran from the Destination browser and typed in Munich. An impossibly affordable flight was leaving at 6am the following morning. A small seed of excitement grew in my heart, bearing fruits of anticipation. I wasn’t quite ready to leave Lebanon, but I suddenly needed to see my mother. I hadn’t seen her in a year and a half. And it was Christmas. I had to go.
Scheduled to attend a swing dancing party that night, I resolved to dance until it was time to board my plane. Easily done. Exhausted, I fell asleep as soon as I found my assigned seat.
An indeterminate time later, I heard the captain announce our descent into Munich, but I couldn’t force my heavy eyelids open. I felt drool drying in the corner of my mouth and my neck cramped at an unnatural angle, but still, I couldn’t move. Once at the gate, I finally pried my eyes open to see a flurry of big, fat snowflakes gathering on the ground and the plane’s wings. It was beautiful.
There’s something about a white Christmas that can’t be beat. Nothing puts you in the Christmas spirit like hearing the squeaky crunch of snow beneath your feet as you stroll through a winter market, sipping on warm, spicy glühwein
and watching your breath escape your mouth as vapor. Nothing makes the heart lighter than watching rosy-cheeked children bundled up like sausages merrily making snowmen. It’s almost enough to distract my mind from the pain of my toes freezing off my feet. Yet, even with the risk of frostbite, I’m happy to be here. It’s good to see my mother and it’s good to hear Christmas carols in the cold.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
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