I asked myself, what would I be doing if I were home right now? I’d be listening to Christmas music until it I couldn’t stand it anymore, watching classic holiday movies and wrapping presents for my family and friends. Why should it be any different over here? So, that’s exactly what I did. I downloaded the classics; Home Alone, Elf, Love Actually, Christmas Vacation, and stocked my iTunes with an array of annoyingly good holiday tunes. I handed out paper to my students and prompted them to draw their own Christmas trees and handed out Santa hats for everyone to wear while we colored and listened to Glee’s Christmas songs (they’re surprisingly good!), and we all made reindeer antler hats this week. I visited a nearby market and filled my arms with Thai gifts to send home for the big day.
Strangely enough, it worked. (Krista 1, Grinchiness, 0) I had pulled myself out of that red and green tinted puddle of pout. I watched Elf and laughed like I’ve never seen it before. It ignited the downloading of other movies set in my beloved New York City (Eddie Murphy in Coming to America, anyone?) and brought a smile to my face. I started playing Christmas music in class and found my students loved it too and even knew the chorus to “Jingle Bells”. I even taught them a Christmas song that spells out Santa to the tune of B-I-N-G-O.
Then, last week, I received boxes of gifts from my amazing family. They were filled with thoughtful gifts, and a LOT of candy. My stocking was even inside one box, filled with treats and tiny gifts just like it would be hanging from the fireplace on Christmas morning. I even got some candy canes and travel books from both sides of my family. Knowing my family supports and encourages my nomadic lifestyle is the best gift of all.
I didn’t expect much regard of a Christian holiday in a Buddhist country, but I was wrong, very wrong. While they won’t wake up on December 25th to find that Santa had visited overnight, they embrace and celebrate most of the secular traditions of Christmas. New Years is a very big holiday here and people are giving gifts to one another…not that much different than home. Every classroom at school is decorated and our courtyard boasts not one, but two trees decorated to the nines (there’s even a set of flying reindeer above).
On Christmas Day we will be having a big party and handing out treats to students while I don a female version of a Santa suit. I was more excited to wear a beard and belly, but I guess the skirt will do. As I am writing this, I’m being asked to sing “Jingle Bells” to practice for tomorrow, when I’m apparently singing in front of a large group of people…
I was happily wrong in the idea that this year would be skipping the most wonderful time of year. While I won’t be drinking wine and playing inappropriate card games with my family, it’s sure to be entertaining in its own right. On Christmas night I will be in my way to Chiang Mai, a city in Northern Thailand, for the first time and spending New Years there. And it’s actually going to be cold there. I’m talking a frostbite inducing 45F/7C at night!! (I’m sure you’re all giving my the middle finger at the moment) New experiences is what this adventure is all about. Sometimes they’re scary and uncomfortable, but always worthwhile. Happy Holidays to everyone near and far, I hope you all are surrounded by things and people that make you happy! I’ll be snacking on Sour Patch Kids while traveling to new places, two things that make me very happy.