Santa's first attempt to come to Amman was thwarted by both the snow and the Secretary of State. When the snow started falling a week ago, the camel had to cancel - he couldn't make it up the hill. Then, too, the Secretary was planning another visit to Amman - something like his ninth in the past year - and the two gentlemen who'd volunteered to serve as Santa were both assigned instead to the visit. So they had to cancel, too.
As it turned out, the storm got so bad that the breakfast with Santa event was canceled entirely, and the Secretary's plane was rerouted. Neither Santa not the Secretary made it to Amman that weekend.
It's okay, though. Santa agreed to make a surprise visit to the Embassy during last Thursday night's holiday dinner. There was caroling, followed by cookie decorating, dinner and Santa. Ainsley fell asleep at dinner but rallied when Santa arrived. While waiting in line to see him, she poked at the frosting on the cookie she had decorated and licked her fingers. When she got to the front of the line, she thrust the slobbery cookie at Santa, saying "I made this for you!" Santa seemed touched by her gift - but I hope he didn't actually eat it.
It still doesn't feel much like Christmas over here. I think we all miss Bart - he's really the driving force behind our Christmas celebrations, and we're all feeling mopey and out of sorts without him. He's sad too, of course, because he desperately misses the kids (okay, and me too) and is probably worried that we're not doing it right without him (okay, and we're not).
Tonight Ainsley got on Skype with him.
"Why are you sad, Daddy?" she asked.
"Because I miss you guys," he answered, "and I don't like being alone on Christmas."
Without skipping a beat, she answered, "but you're not alone, Daddy. We're right here, in your heart."
I may have teared up a little bit when she said that, but I'll never tell.
Merry Christmas, everyone! It's going to be an odd one for sure, but we're doing our best to keep it festive. And yes: we're holding you all right here in our hearts. Especially Daddy.