::::::::By Kevin Stoda
Well, the 22nd and 23rd of December 2011 here in Salalah, Oman included another night of caroling at a neighbor's home and a wonderful Filipino Christmas Party at church.
I have already written of Advent Candles and Caroling on my website:
My daughter Kenzenia is celebrating her first Christmas together with her father and mother. (Last year, in December 2011,--if you recall--my wife and daughter were not allowed at one of the international airports in Manila, Philippines to board a plane back to Taiwan where I had been working that school year. We were thus--in 2010-- separated for what should have been our first Christmas as an entire household.)
Now, in Oman, as of this month (December 2011), my wife and daughter have received a family resident visa, so we are really enjoying our first advent together.
Two buildings down from our place in Al-Qoaf, we went at 8pm on Thursday night to a friend and neighbor's home, where the entire protestant church was invited for a Christmas feast. The couple comes from Kerala and a majority of those attending were from India that night.
Kenzenia, our daughter, really had a lot of fun--singing with her hands--as she is too young to speak much--let alone singing. She did a little belly dance, too.
However, the guitarist and more than a dozen others--like my daughter and wife--were born in the Philippines. So, at the end of the evening Carols and Christmas message, we enjoyed a few Filipino Christmas Carols, like "Ang Pasko ay Sumapi".
After the singing was over, there was a joyful time of fellowship and eating--with pancit and other foods from the Philippines
and from India.
Friday morning, we lit our 4th advent candle at church during the English (language) fellowship, and my family and I returned to the church at 6pm that evening for a Filipino service and Filipino Christmas party.
Again, after caroling and another Christmas message, there was food. However, there were some holiday games and exchanges of gifts prior to this final event.
We were divided into two teams and had to do Christmas cheers and play around of Chinese whispers--i.e. before the gifts were exchanged. (The two Americans present--the pastor and I--were surprised that the Filipinos had so much trouble whispering on the word: "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious".
Apparently "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" is part and parcel of American cultural knowledge-- that has still not taken on in other parts of the globe, i.e. as a common phrase which children learn to sing or pronounce.)
The guitarist for the caroling that evening in the church is actually a chef in the house of the Sultan, so we had another wonderful feast at his hands--including pancit and a variety of fish and seafood dishes.
Unlike in the Philippines, where both Christmas and New years are welcomed in with fireworks and bottle rockets, there was none of that at our church function. Otherwise, it was a fun Filipino Christmas--but in Salalah, Oman.