I have been apprehensive about writing my annual Christmas letter for weeks, so much so that I have not been able to write anything for a while.

My resistance comes from the knowledge that Mom will not be reading this, as she has for the last 21 years when I first started writing about our yearly adventures. It still breaks my heart whenever I just want to tell her something important that has just happened and I can’t.  Mom, I hope you are looking down at us all and smiling, knowing every move we make and laughing or crying along with our shenanigans. You are missed every day.

Probably our biggest news for those of you NOT in the KNOW, is that we are moving back to SA. YES US! So the last two months have been spent sorting out our lives in preparation for a 3 January return.

As for each of us, well here is the roundup……


Completed his time at DESS in Year 6 in June, they had loads of fun from the campout in the UAE at Fajera to a Ski Trip to Switzerland it was daunting waving him off at the airport with the realization that he is growing up too quickly for our liking. He wrote his first set of SAT’s with excellent results, he also wrote the entrance exams for Doha College  – DC (which are another set of SAT’s) and both results gave him a place into the College for the 2012-2013 school year.
DESS had a “Farewell Dance”, Sean’s first! It was very sweet to see him getting ready for it and then having an absolute ball.

DC has been a wonderful school and we are going to be so sad to say goodbye. Within the first week of school he was made the Sports Captain for his Yr Group Class – Yr 7P (Phoenix). As Sports Captain he gets to choose the people that will play in various sport teams, he must motivate and ensure that all students are given an opportunity to play, it was an incredible privilege to be chosen so early on in the year.  He is also part of the Rugby and Cross Country Running Teams and loving the extra sport at the school. Sean’s academics have been top notch being in the top set for most of his subjects and attaining 85 – 95% for his Math and Science. He also wrote his first music composition, which was chosen to be played at the Winter Concert, he received loads of hoots and whistles and it has made him an overnight sensation in the school. He is also part of the String Ensemble at school and has met some wonderful inspiring kids with similar interests in music.

He also passed his first set of music exams this year for both violin Grade 2 and Piano Grade 1. However, he is definitely more of a “play by ear” musician than a classic music bof!! 

Has certainly made herself known in the school and has the wonderful reputation of being helpful and kind to all that cross her path.  What I love about this little chic more than anything else is how she is so versatile. I can find her playing with the little 4/5 year olds and then changing pace to the older children, while still having an intelligent conversation with adults. 

Jess has grown in leaps and bounds this year, she has worked so hard in getting her math and writing up to par and is our little science and language genius, beating us hands down on Trivial Pursuit most days! With the knowledge that we are moving back she launched into finding websites where she could learn Afrikaans, and is very excited about the prospect of knowing what Steve and I are talking about, monkey! Jess was chosen for the school basket ball team at the start of the first term of this year, she certainly is one of the shortest team members but boy can she dip those balls into the net, her gymnastics is also taking off and she was chosen to join the team to participate in events during the year.  

Jess joined the drama team at school and put on a fun play called “Wakadozoo” guess what that was about 🙂 ??  She also participated in the Perform Doha group and had a blast with the performing antics they get up to, so much so that she is very keen to continue these antics back at home!! 

Our Jess has been through the mill with her teeth and had 4 extracted to make more space in her mouth for the crowding, and the widening plate is working wonders. 

STEVEN …….. 

From my side it’s been an emotional year. From supporting Denise, and the kids here at home during Dawn’s passing, through to the stomach churning, “wondering if we have done the right thing”, day of resigning from my well paid, cushy (but very boring) job and once again throwing the family into happy (lots) and sad (a little) turmoil packing up our home of 4.5 years here. I am so grateful to have my old consulting job back at 21st Century. Just as no 2 years were the same when I worked at 21st before, I expect it will be a different experience with all the changes that have taken place. I am excited by the new prospects 2013 will bring. We have a big redevelopment of the website (version 3) underway with Craig which together with Denise making it her full time job, will hopefully take Xpatulator.com to new heights. My main focus will however be on consulting full time with 21st Century. My experience in Qatar will hopefully give me a better perspective back in SA, particularly the Job Family project I was involved in here at RasGas. Of course our eyes are wide open as to the South Africa we are going back to, which just as we have changed somewhat, is going to be different to the past.


Well life continues……being a Mom, does it ever stop.  As busy as life is I love love love seeing the kids developing and doing so well. Once again I have loved the adventures we have experienced during the year and just spending time with these two amazing becomings. Steve and I have certainly been blessed with an incredible family. We embedded ourselves into a wonderful Off Road Cycling team in Qatar and have had some fun times together out on the desert runs, we are going to miss you all so much and hope that we will enjoy some cycles in SA together when you visit!  As for work, I will be focusing more on the Website this coming year and have developed further marketing strategies and advertising partners during the past few months.  It certainly is going to be an interesting year moving back home and seeking out new partners to take our business further.

And Steve and I celebrated our 21st Wedding Anniversary this year, we still cannot believe it is 21 years already and that we are still having so many new experiences together which is how life should be.


Nothing stands still in the McManus Family.  We certainly did not stop with the travels and Steve’s Birthday in January saw us speeding our way to Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi where we roller coasted our way around the amusement park and had a ball looking around the city.
February had Sean heading out to Switzerland for his ski trip and us having some special quality time with our littlest Mac.
April and August saw us back in Cyprus spending time exploring the island further, with Sean taking to the slopes in April to show us what he had learnt on his trip, long walks and bike rides. In August we spent many a long summer day with our special family from family, the Stephanou’s and made new friends with the Lianos’ exploring the beaches, cruising and sharing the year’s events with each other. Always a special time for us.
May and July were spent in South Africa. With Mom’s passing in May, it was a tough trip leaving the family behind in Doha. Dad, Debs, Shirls, Les, the boys, kids and I would once again like to thank everyone for all the heart felt words sent our way. Mom was a special lady and I know that we are all going to be trying to cook up a storm in her memory this Christmas and our toasts will be for her absence at the table.

July we headed back to spend some time with Dad and family, with Jess and I heading to JBay in early July to try and help Dad out further with the estate and paperwork. The boys joined us a week later, after Sean’s goodbyes in his final week at DESS. We spent time exploring a bit of the Cape Coast, going to the Tsitsikamma forest for a canopy tour, which saw us swinging like monkeys between beautiful Outeniqua Yellowwood trees. We then flew to Durban for some R and R with Andrew, Hillary, Rob, Anthony, Michelle and their wonderful brood. We added a Shark cage dive with an old friend from school, an absolutely surreal experience. Our last week was spent in Johannesburg with family and friends, catching up, eating, drinking and soaking in the SA culture with a tour of Soweto to remind us of our roots.
The second half of the year has been quieter, with winter in the Northern Desert reaching temps of 26 degrees C, we are freezing our socks off. NOT.

And so dear friends, a sad year in perspective with hopes of time healing heartache and a move creating new opportunities.

Our love, kisses, hugs and prayers go out to each and every one of you!  Thank you for being our friends and for making our lives richer for being in it.