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In Muck Towers, we’ve had a really busy summer.  I mean REALLY busy.  We’ve hardly been at home, having stayed with family, friends and then had a proper holiday at the end of the summer before heading back to work, school and everyday life in Abu Dhabi.

So, when the first week of September arrived, I was feeling pretty pleased with ourselves.  We totally hit the ground running – new school uniforms, shoes, name labels, bags, folders and stationary had all been purchased in July, and we were out of the door, good to go.  Smug? Yes I am.  Last year, one child had to go to school in a pair of MY socks, as I hadn’t sorted her out with new ones, and I hadn’t been allowed to forget it. (I wasn’t as bad as my friend who sent her child in with her Dad’s flask of coffee, having mistaken it for her metallic water bottle.   Fortunately the child realized before drinking out of it, but then announced her Mum’s mistake very loudly to the rest of the drop-off crowd.  Thanks, 7-year-old.)

So, yes, back to school 2015 – I nailed it. And that particular friend did too! New school term? Bring it on!

And this week we have a shorter working week in Abu Dhabi, as the Eid al Adha holiday approaches.  As a non-Muslim, you may be surprised to learn that this particular festival has HUGE significance for me.  Traditionally in the Arab world, this is a time when local families come together to celebrate the festival with prayers at the Mosque, and succulent food to share.  My Emirati friends spend time applying henna, preparing special Eid clothes and gifts for each other, and resting up in preparation for visiting their nearest and dearest.

An Emirati Eid family celebration

An Emirati Eid family celebration | photo by Fatema Hassan Ali Al-Dhaheri

As expats, living here gives us the opportunity to teach our children some of the shared caring values that transcend religion.  In the spirit of sacrifice and giving, we are collecting toiletries and food gifts for all of the cleaners and security staff who work in our school.

Donations from our school children for the cleaners and security guards

Donations from our school children for the cleaners and security guards

At home, we’re going through the wardrobes and toy cupboards and giving away things we no longer need to people who can use them.  Even pieces of furniture and random old picture frames are going to www.takemyjunkuae.com who clean them up and pass them on to people who need them.

And for me? Eid al Adha was when our first little Muck entered the world, almost seven years ago.  Through the fog of tiredness, shock and exhilaration, I suddenly had a tiny baby in my arms.  The hospital in Dubai had a festive atmosphere, and a feeling of love and joy in the air, as families were off work and able to be together.  I’ll never forget how grateful I was to have made it through 48 hours of labour, and to be holding my little girl.

Getting to this point was NOT this peaceful

Getting to this point was slightly less peaceful than it may appear

This year, we’ll be at home as a family, NOT doing the school run for a couple of extra days, and catching up with each other and friends who we haven’t seen in far too long.  I might be keen to get the little ones back to school next week, but right now a long weekend together will be the perfect “holiday” for us.  Whatever you’re doing this week – whether you’re celebrating, working, going away or it’s business as usual – have a good one! Eid Mubarak!