We moved into Jebel Ali Gardens in late November 2001. The Christmas tree and the Advent calendar were up before the curtains, Father Christmas was duly notified of who slept where, and we were all set for Christmas before we'd finished unpacking. Priorities.
However, our infant son was by this time fourteen, and slightly past the age for rushing off to bed at half past seven because Santa was coming. What on earth were his aged parents to do til lights out? They left him playing computer games, and went to The Club in Jebel Ali Village, lured by tales of carol singing, mince pies and mulled wine. It was good fun, and we've done it every year since. It's traditional. innit?
So this is where we went on our last Christmas Eve in Dubai (tee hee!)
Now Maggie and Jimmy Lee lived and raised a family in Jebel Ali Village; and on Christmas Eve 1980 Maggie played piano, Jimmy sang, and that was the start of 'Christmas Eve at the Club', as we know it now. They had already retired to Blighty when we moved in here, but they came back every year to play and sing, and they're still doing it, twenty six years on!
Last year, two young lads got up and sang every single verse of 'We Three Kings', and this little fellow sang 'We wish you a Merry Christmas, We wish you a Merry Christmas'.
A year on, they're back, about six inches taller, to reprise their hits of 2005.
I love the placing of the banner: all your favourite stars, including Maggie, Jimmy and the little guy. Aaah.
The tail end of the spontaneous Cossack dancing.
Male voice choir.
The Junior Ladies' Chorus await their turn.
It's all terribly serious, with everyone peering at song sheets and trying to reach the mic.
Everyone sings! This was 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' (trad.) with newly invented actions (lots of bling for the five gold rings, and the six geese have developed hernias).
At around 9.30, someone requested Danny Boy: our cue to leave, and walk up through the village, over scrubby Jebel Ali, and home. Not picturesque, but cool and peaceful under the stars, like Christmas Eve should be. Debbie will be in New Zealand next year, we'll be in Spain, and rumours persist that Jebel Ali Village is to go the way of Jumeirah Beach Village, but until then I have no doubt that there'll still be mince pies and mulled wine at 'The Club' every Christmas Eve.