6 Nov 2012

Get away for Christmas. You know it makes sense.

Christmas is a time for families. What it is not, in my experience, is a time for families at home.

The arguments, the crowds, the weather. Grim. Getting away for a Christmas family holiday is a possible solution.

Where, though? Bearing in mind that by Christmas you will have already endured about twelve mince pie and mulled wine evenings, a few school carol concerts and quite a lot of Christmas puddings in office dos, then maybe getting away from a sunlounger and the horrendous possibility of wearing a bikini, however distant, might be the best option. So perhaps go for a family activity holiday. At least you can pretend you are doing something for cholesterol’s sake.

Last year, we went camping in the Sahara. We arrived by camel. Our site involved six small bell tents, for sleeping. A larger tent, our dining room. A very small tent some way off was the latrine. That was it. After a feast of soup and spaghetti, the children jumped and slid down the golden dunes of the Sahara. The Sahara is very big, but it’s not silent. Amazingly, there was the sound of birdsong.

Night comes quickly, the shadows racing up the dunes. Tens of thousands of stars come out - the entire Milky Way. Someone starts singing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. It’s cheesy, but why not? There are billions of them hanging above us overhead.

At dawn, my husband and I crept out of our tiny tent. Christmas morning. A rocky outcrop on the horizon is black; the sun, an iridescent line. Birds are singing everywhere. Then the sun bursts up over the desert; the world is gold and the sky is azure once more. Now is that not a TEENSY bit better than the Boxing Day scrum on Oxford Street?

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