December 26

Season’s greetings.

December 26 day started out gray, like a vague post-Christmas hangover. It has been wet and dreary all day, with the disconcerting pop-pop of celebratory fireworks that the kids have been firing for the week leading up to Christmas, and that they will continue to shoot off until sometime after New Year’s. Fireworks are a big deal here, especially among the kids. I assumed that they were hoping to shoot down Santa’s sleigh for the loot, but Abby more sensibly noted that they just wanted to capture Rudolph so they could use his nose to light their houses when the power goes out.

In general, Christmas in Tirana is a different affair than it is in the U.S. There are some Christmas decorations, sure, and a gaily lit tree in Skenderbeg Square (along with a electronic sign counting down the days until New Year’s or, more precisely, until December 30, because otherwise it is off by a day), but the streets are not slathered in tinsel and electrified glitter as they are at home. In fact, most of the stores were open yesterday; with the exception of a few “cosmopolitan” stores desperately trying to earn their European bona fides by filling their windows with Christmas displays – and even then, starting only in December rather than immediately after Thanksgiving (or is it Halloween nowadays?) – you wouldn’t have noticed it was our Lord’s birthday unless you happened to have the day off from work. Abby and I celebrated with some friends in the scattered manner of ex-pats who don’t have much to do with the holiday one way or the other but still feel like we all should do something – so we shared a chicken dinner and played Texas hold’em. Merry Christmas to all and to all, a good night.