Most single expatriates in Dubai celebrated Christmas Day with their friends in apartments or villas. My own favorite took place in a true Middle Eastern house with a large, central, stone-paved courtyard sheltered by willowy palm trees. All the rooms, including the kitchen, went off the central courtyard. In the corners sat enormous pots with ficus trees and bright pink bougainvillea plants, still blooming in December and growing up the inside walls , their trunks so thick you could see how old were the original plants.
Waxing so poetic here, I make the whole day sound wistful, sentimental. Not at all! Crazy cocktails were devised; Australian boxed wine was supped, and though I'm not a Scotch drinker, I "tested" several of those that were available. Family stories and saucy jokes were told. Ridiculous presents were exchanged then played with throughout the afternoon, proving that grown-ups everywhere revert to childhood once Santa has been to town.
Honestly though, for all the fun and merriment, what I remember most is the sight of the "table of plenty," that moment of connection, and a lasting sense of being included in a home away from home. And the scotch.