Having friends from abroad visiting for the holidays is a great way to be reminded of the things that make Denmark special and that we now take for granted. And it is especially the children who raise the most interesting crucial life questions: what is remoulade really made of?
Our visiting friends are Canadian and they live in Dubai. As we compare our lives and talk about this past year, the contrasts could not be starker. They live in a world where there is no income tax. We pay the highest taxes in the world (or at least I believe they are). Life is inconceivable without a car there where petrol is cheap and children do not ride bikes on a regular basis. And although it is somewhat available in the UAE, pork is definitely not the meat of choice at a dinner party and you would never see a hotdog stand in the street.
Of course, we envy them the guaranteed sunshine and heat, whereas they would like some of our work-life balance. But the biggest difference is the fundamental sense of having a security net in our lives that will allow us to live relatively worry-free. We are basically very well looked after here in Denmark, even as foreigners.
Living in a place such as Dubai where having a cheque bounce means imprisonment, and where people can be sued and eventually kicked out of the country because they got impatient with the wrong people, is not the kind of life that I imagine ever having. I would rather be forced to eat remoulade every day.
So in spite of the high taxes and the unpredictable weather, I am more than satisfied with life here. Not that my friends arenÂ’t happy in Dubai, they just feel that some of the reasons that made them decide to move there are now being overridden by basic lifestyle necessities that they crave, such as being more involved in their daughterÂ’s life and not having the constant worry of facing trial or deportation.
Putting things into perspective is the best way to be thankful for all that weÂ’ve got. And that will be my first New YearÂ’s resolution: enjoy all that I have got here. My second resolution is to go and see our friends in Dubai soon for a quick refill of Vitamin D. That should do the trick.
Happy new year and have a great 2012.