The Two Crabs are preparing for our second Christmas in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Unlike certain neighboring countries I won't mention, Bahrain really gets into the Christmas spirit. All the shopping malls and hotels are decked out in Christmas decorations.
A few recommendations for where to find Christmas democrations: Of course, the U.S. Navy base has a huge selection of Christmas trees, decorations, and goodies. Geant at Bahrain Mall has a huge Christmas aisle and sells everything from Santa suits to gift wrapping, artificial trees, tons of toys and even New Years eve poppers and noise makers. Most of the local nurseries/garden centers sell Poinsetta flowers; the best ones we've seen are at Jawad's and Alosra grocery stores, but expect to pay at least 4BD (almost $12 USD!).
For the first time in our lives, Mr. and Mrs. Crab broke down and purchased an artificial tree. Unfortunately with our Foreign Service lifestyle, it's not always going to be possible or practical to buy a real Christmas tree. Surprisingly, you can order a REAL Christmas tree at some local stores including Carrfour and Alosra. However, the prices start at 60BD (about $160 USD), and they've been shipped from Finland and not exactly fresh cut by the time they get here! We got a really nice 6.5 foot tall tree from Balsam Hill and had it shipped to us by HHE. It actually looks pretty nice, decorated with all our worldly ornaments we've collected from our trips around the globe.
Many of my colleagues will be going home for the holidays, but most of us are staying in Bahrain and celebrating with house parties and dinners, and sharing our traditions with our Bahraini colleagues. The weekend before Christmas also happens to be Bahrain National Day, so everyone will be in a festive mood! The streets and palm trees of Bahrain are decked out in red and white (national colors) lights, banners and flags. It's a beautiful time to be in Bahrain!
(Sorry about the low-quality photo above, taken from iPad 2.)