O Holy Night – a Christmas Memory Set in Casablanca, Morocco

Blog - O Holy Night - Christmas memories

As we tuck our Christmas 2015 memories away, one sweet distant memory was stirred this weekend. First, a little background of how it came to mind after many years…

We listen to Christmas music starting in October, so we delight in those radio stations that play it non-stop from Thanksgiving through December 25. My favorite radio station (Positive Hits PERS)  continues, this week, to intersperse their playlist with Christmas songs…maybe until the New Year, and I am grateful.

Because of all that playtime, it was in the car, on Sunday, that I heard Mariah Carey sing O Holy Night. Blog - O Holy Night - TwitterPhoto Credit: Maxwell on Twitter

Then the memory flooded in…with so much joy… of another singing of O Holy Night. It was during the month of Ramadan over 10 years ago, in Morocco. That year Ramadan fell during November/December. One of the delights of Ramadan for us expats  (who were foreigners to its observance) was an international merchandise fair held every night. Blog - Ramadan Fair - MoroccoPhoto Credit: The Daily Beast

That year we went to the Ramadan Fair for Christmas presents. The fair is held in a massive exhibition hall, and the aisles are filled with imported and specialty goods of all sorts – specialty foods and other edible treats, clothing, toys, and décor. My friend, Terri, and I drove to the center of Casablanca one evening when the fair opened, after the breaking of the Ramadan fast. Our three teenaged daughters were with us.

It was a festive, funky time. We spoke Arabic to those vendors who spoke Arabic, and English to the Chinese, Pakistani, and Indian vendors, and broken French to the Senegalese vendors. It was a great night of shopping as we carried bags of treasures back to our car in the packed parking lot.

On the ride home, we sang Christmas carols. These family friends are known for their incredible vocal abilities. Terri and her daughters, Stephanie and Vanessa, are masters at 3-part harmony. My daughter Christie and I could at least blend in well enough.

We drove through the city, on that mild winter evening, singing our hearts out for Christmas. Pulling in front of their house, we were just starting O Holy Night. I don’t think we give it a thought as to who might be listening and wondering at that car loaded with women filling the night with that glorious song.

When we finished the song, we didn’t speak at first, silenced by the magic of that moment. To be so far from our homes and traditions in the US, and yet to find that place of sweet community. In a dark car, on a Ramadan night, in Casablanca…for us, a tiny group of American friends – it truly was a holy night.

Blog - O Holy Night - Christmas MemorySteph, Nessa, and Terri holding Christie (with brother Jared’s help)

2006 June -- Plant fam #3 fullsizeThat Family – All I Want For Christmas Is YouChristie, Steph, NessaHigh School Buddies

Maroc Mama website – for a taste of Morocco

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