Dashing Through the Sand.

This is what I was up to on Christmas Eve, while everyone else slaved over dinner. ...in fact, this is what I've been up to since my legs staged a coup last Friday!



Alright, first things first. I don’t know about you, but I absolutely abhor the thought of giving up Christmas music so quickly!  I simply don’t see a reason for it. This one has been stuck in my head for about seventeen hours now-I kid you not, I’ve probably played it on repeat no less than twenty times just this morning. It’s got all of the sweet flirtation of “Baby It’s Cold Outside”-which routinely gets stuck in my head every year from about October to February. Give it a whirl.


Perfect. Now that we’ve got our mood music, I can go ahead and admit that I slept through call to prayer #1. And #2. …and quite possibly, #3. I can neither confirm nor deny that one. The point here is that Christmas tuckered me out! This may even call for a nap later. I wonder if Dayton will let me borrow his snuggie…

…nooot a chance. I don’t think the boy’s taken off that monstrosity since Ben gave it to him yesterday morning-we’ll be prying it off his cold, dead body one day. Or rather, his snuggly-warm dead body. [And there, you have the sheer genius of the snuggie. Currently selling

Christmas Eve dinner!

 like hotcakes in Japan.]

Sleepy and snuggie-less, my mug of caramel truffle coffee [Divine. If you’re a coffee drinker, switch immediately.] and I are here, as promised, to regale you with stories of Christmas in Dakar!

We rolled off the floor at about ten thirty AM, and were unwrapping presents by eleven. [And THERE you have the

Right before caroling on Christmas Eve!

latest Christmas morning I’m going to experience for approximately the next eighty-seven years.]  Now, confession is cathartic, so here’s mine for the day: My name is Ashley, and I am the world’s worst gift-giver.

Whew. I feel cleansed.

But it’s no exaggeration-for all of my wonderful intentions and as much as I adore the people I shop for, nothing throws me into a panic like having to pick out the perfect gift for somebody. I’d rather be boiled alive in a vat of hot chocolate, or have my gums scraped repeatedly with an ice-pick. I’m not kidding. I prematurely age approximately eight more

The boys unwrapping the African shirts we had made for them. Get in line, ladies...

 years every time a friend of mine has a birthday.

Drama, drama drama.

Given that I’m so exceedingly, atrociously awful  with this whole gift-giving thing, I’m always entirely caught off guard when somebody is really good at it. And let me tell you, I have five teammates that are. Michelle, for instance, has been listening to my grandiose plans to track down a fabric market in Dakar, find a tailor, and have an apron made in a funky African

The snuggie. Me-OW.

fabric for months now. I’ve been talking about it for months-but it’s always just sounded like too. much. work.

I’ll give you one guess as to what that sweet girl had under the tree for me yesterday.

And then there was Ted, who found the. most. gorgeous African scarf I’ve ever seen. I have the world’s most persnickety, obnoxiously picky taste in clothing-and over the years have perfected the delicate art of placidly arranging my face into a faux-excited “oh I absolutely adore pleather!” expression. It’s entirely convincing-puncuated by elated gasps and exclamations that would suggest I’d just won a trip to Paris or gotten that pony that’s been on my Christmas list for 23 years straight. But secretly, I’m always cringing. Dayton understands this about me, and apparently when Ted told him he was off to track me down a scarf, he simply rolled his eyes and shuddered, knowing full well that nobody should ever attempt to pick out something I’m going to end up wearing. [Or rather, that they hope I’m going to end up wearing. ;)]

The boys unwrapping the grill we got them. ...the grill that wouldn't light last night, resulting in a two hour fiasco that left their male egos forever bruised. Merry Christmas!


…to both Dayton and my stunned amazement, I didn’t fake a thing yesterday. LOVE it. Somebody’s Mama taught him well.

Ben, being one of the most thoughtful people on the planet, had snuck a stack of my favorite classic books onto the plane last October, and has been hiding the stash in his room ever since. In fact, Ben had all of his Christmas shopping done in October! Why oh WHY am I not that thoughtful?!

Dayton gave me some beautiful glass Christmas swizzle sticks for my coffee [where he found those in Dakar, I’ll never know], and he found us CHAIRS! Glory hallelujah, we can now seat

Ben: "It's like we're a family!" Ashley: *exasperated sigh "THAT'S what I've been TELLING you for two years!" Aaaand cue the laughter you see here.

four people around our little kitchen table. Epic poems will be written about him for years to come. I may even do a lyrical dance…just as soon as my legs decide to start working again.

And Christy…bless her. About a week ago, she looked at me with an amused grin, and this is the conversation that ensued:

Christy: I don’t have anything for you for Christmas.

Ashley: …yeah, I haven’t gotten you anything yet either.

Christy: There’s nothing in this country that I want.

Ashley: Me either.

Christy: Do you want to just not get each other anything?

Ashley: …we’re going to be friends forever, aren’t we?

We gave each other the gift of blissfully stress-free jack-squat. Which might sound grinchy to you, but was hysterically

Unwrapping the clues that led to our chairs upstairs!

 perfect for us. [And in my defense, her birthday present is tucked safely away in my super-secret hiding spot! I’m all over it this year. :)]

The rest of our day was spent throwing together brunchfest [and guess who found bacon in a Muslim country??], watching the Grinch, skyping with friends and family back home, eating dinner together…the usual cast of characters that you fully expect to enter stage left on Christmas day. And it was magic. There are only 364 days left until Christmas next year-and can I just say in all sincerity, that I am silly excited?

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s story, tentatively titled “Why no one in my family should ever ever EVER take Ambien no matter HOW badly they want to fall asleep.” And oh boy, am I ever going to get it for telling you that one…


  1. I love you!!!

    Try this version. One of my fave songs too! Wish I could flirt. OK, can’t find it. Find the GLEE version on YouTube from the Christmas episode.

  2. Found it. http://www.fox.com/glee/videos/
    Click on the “Baby It’s Cold Outside” clip

  3. I have never believed for a second that you can’t flirt. True story. ;)

    I love a lot of Glee stuff-but I’ve been stuck on James Taylor’s duet with Natalie Cole for…oh gosh, forever. There are so many fantastic versions of that song, though!

    Love you. :)

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