Sunday, December 16, 2007

Sharing Christmas with my son

About 5 in the afternoon on the 1st Sunday in December dad would take you in his white Austin Wolseley to Hamra Street to see the Christmas lights. He would park his car and take you to The Express café for some hot chocolate and a piece of fôret noire while you sat there watching the cars and passers by looking at the decorated shop windows. Once your cake safely tucked away in your belly, hands and mouth cleaned so that all evidence of you eating desert before diner disappears; he will zip up your anorak and take you on your magical Christmas tour.

A trip to “Toyland” (our humble version of FAO Schwartz) is a must; dad will be most attentive trying to see what catches your eye the most so that you might find it under the tree. Walking along the side walk you will encounter a few Santas wringing their bell and distributing candy, and if you ask why is there more than one, dad will tell you that those are Santa’s helpers paving the way for Christmas eve.

Back home, diner on the table, you make an effort to eat so that you don’t let mum on your secret adventure. All is merry and joyful. Around the diner table there are no talk of a vacant presidency, car bombs, Syrians, Aoun, Hizbollah…etc; the only heated argument is that your dad might have brought you back a tad passed your curfew.

The following Sunday your aunt might take you again to Hamra street, but this time to a church where the choir sings to Jazz. Whilst she is praying you listen to the music and let the rhythm engulf your soul. Again another trip along the side walk filled with Santas and candy and a feeling of happiness and security.

The above is nothing but a small percentage of my Christmas memories. I will not share more with you, for I know that you will never have anything similar. Once you are old enough my son, and will read this text I would like to apologize in advance for the sadness you might feel. Hamra Street is no longer what it used to be, Lebanon is no longer.

I love you, and I am sorry.


Anonymous said...


I love your blog...
Funny, it's the first time I cross by it.
Jester & theCourtFool

Marillionlb said...

Thank you.
I had given up for a while (I use to post under the neame Jester), untill I came across a few who share almost the same vision of Lebanon than I.
Once again thank you for your comment.

Hamra Toyland said...

Hello, Marion my name is Bassim I loved your blod, I hope we will get to know each other some day in the near future... Keep the enthusiasm up...I adore architecture and literature... Lebanese old architecture...This is my email I have tons of things to say and share...Adresses of old Lebanese houses that are miserably and shamefully abandoned and run-down. Keep in touch if you possibly can... Bravo for this wonderful blog... I noticed that you take part as well in Chroniques beyrouthines...This is how I knew that you exist... By the way Toyland Hamra I remember it very well, it had a wonderful and huge train in its main window but that train was not for sale... In 1977-78 I used to go there with my mother just to contemplate the train that is not for sale... and ask the shop assistant how much does it cost... I also remember Le Colisee cinema and Ajami in the same street that is now a new expensive, fancy clothes shop... Yallah, bye, take great care of yourself and if you need anything let me know... Have a blessed day !