In twenty six days I get on a lovely toy plane SA Airlink and fly to South Africa for my first Christmas home in the last three Christmases. To say I’m looking forward to it, is an understatement of enormous proportions.
My first ever christmas spent away from my family was probably one of the most depressing I’ve ever had. I always knew I was going to spend the Christmas of 2009 away from my family, but what I didn’t know was that I was going to spend it alone. By myself. With no-one.
In early December I was told that my Libyan visa had finally been approved. Brilliant. After a six month wait, that was the news I wanted to hear, however due to the unbelievably effective nature of the Libyan Visa department, my visa was sent to the Libyan embassy in Lisbon instead of the Abu Dhabi. This meant I would have to go to Portugal first to pick up my visa.
This was mid-December. A week later I still hadn’t received news of when I should go to Lisbon and with everything shutting down for Christmas on the 23rd of December, HR simply told me “Go to Portugal for Christmas and New Year and spend it with your family. After New Year you can pick up the visa in Lisbon and go to Libya”.
Brilliant! Despite not being able to spend christmas with my family in South Africa, I could still spend it with my family in Madeira. Not bad. So I waited for HR to send me my ticket to Lisbon. And I waited some more. And some more. Time was running out for me to reach Portugal by Christmas and when I phoned HR to ask what was happening I was told that I would only be able to fly on the 24th meaning I would only arrive on Christmas day.
Better than nothing I thought, with this in hand I said goodbye to all my colleagues and friends in Abu Dhabi, many of whom had invited me to have Christmas lunch with them. I declined saying “I’ll be long gone by Christmas!”. That was until HR email me my ticket on the 24th with a departure date of 26th December, 2am. Having told everyone that I would be away and being the person that I am (didn’t want to inconvenience anyone), I decided I would go it alone.
I ended up spending Christmas day 2009 in Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi, having a bland lunch, then watching Sherlock Holmes and finally having a shisha with a colleague in front of the apartment block we were living, before packing up and leaving Abu Dhabi for Portugal.
Worst. Christmas. Ever.