While 2004 was a good one, it was probably better a millionfold in contrast to Christmas 2003. That was the Christmas in which I learned what it is like to have no one, to be truly on one’s own. That was the Christmas which I almost spent alone in my dorm room because I had no invitations at all. That year, I had three conflicting invitations for Thanksgiving and I was shattered to choose between them. Then, up to Dec 24th I still had no invitations at all for Christmas. This may not seem like much, but in that part of the world, we have to look out for each other, and I learned that people don’t look out for each other, only when it’s really easy. I realised that no one in Lebanon cared enough to exit their comfort zone and welcome me as family. They cared enough to invite me for the America-nostalgic holiday of Thanksgiving, but not for the one that really mattered. People are lovely, though, and when a few friends realised what had happened, they called on the 24th and invited me to spend some time with them. I had dinner on the 24th with one friend and her friends, and lunch on the 25th with other friends. It was all very distant and formal, because my heart had already broken by that point, but I saw grace anyway.

Getting an invitation to help a friend make pies, on the other hand, was easy! Or was it that the Christmas dinner invitation came with a labour contribution requirement? I didn't mind - after all, I love cooking

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