Christmas in Thailand

Celebrating Christmas in a country other than your home country is always a challenge.  This year, I celebrated Christmas in Thailand which is a predominantly Buddhist country so it was quite different.

A few Christmas decorations only went up in early December not in October like some parts of the world. I remember being very excited when I saw some fairy lights AND a Christmas tree.

The first Christmas tree I saw in Hat Yai and I knew Christmas had arrived.

The first Christmas tree I saw in Hat Yai and I knew Christmas had arrived.

I didn’t spot any ‘Merry Christmas’ signs but lots of signs in Thai (which I suppose makes sense) and signs that read ‘Happy New Year’.  It seems more emphasis is put on the new year celebration than Christmas.

I didn’t get hounded by Christmas Carols in shopping centres but the shopping centres themselves did start to get decorated about half way through December.

It didn’t FEEL like Christmas and it got me thinking about all my past Christmasses.  The build up, the wrapping of presents, the swapping of presents, the Christmas parties at work, the Christmas cards and for the first time in a very long time, I got painfully homesick.  I missed my Mum, I missed my family, I missed my friends.  It was hard…

But what could I do but suck it up and try and make the most of it.  I went out and bought presents for the few people that I worked with.

Presents that I bought for others

Presents that I bought for others

I also bought packets of biscuits for the motorbike taxi drivers that give me a lift to school every morning.  They were so pleased, it really warmed my heart.

My best friend sent me a small Christmas tree with some goodies and some wonderful friends from Germany sent me a box full of various sweets and chocolate. This really made my Christmas seeing all the pressies under my little tree on Christmas morning.

Christmas morning - Santa has been :-)

Christmas morning – Santa has been :-) (mini Buddha stands there for reference to my Christmas in Thailand)

The weirdest thing was that the school that I worked at seemed to have Christmas on 24th? It was the day for the Christmas Show and when I arrived at school, I was greeted by 100’s of little Santas in all shapes and sizes.

The world is being taken over by little Santas

The world is being taken over by little Santas

The atmosphere in the school was amazing.  The kids all had bags of sweets which they distributed to anyone and everyone.  It was all very exciting.

The agency that I work for had organised the Christmas show and for a few hours, there was singing, dancing, craft activities and mass pandemonium.

Me playing Santa about to dish out sweeties to the school's director, affectionately known as 'Grandma'.

Me playing Santa about to dish out sweeties to the school’s director, affectionately known as ‘Grandma’. I love the kids’ faces in this photo.

I volunteered to be Santa and had great fun walking around with a pillow stuffed down my front and a bag full of sweets.

Wonderful group photo at the Christmas Show

Wonderful group photo at the Christmas Show

For dinner that evening, all the westerners gathered at ‘The Bamboo Bar’, a westernised hangout in town, and enjoyed some drinks.  We all had such a lovely evening that before we realised it, it was midnight and we all cheered ‘Merry Christmas’ and lots of hugging and kissing ensued.  A bit like New Year really…

The thing with living in a Buddhist country is that Christmas isn’t a public holiday so, on the morning of the 25th, after opening the presents under my little tree while Helmut Lotti sang some christmas carols, I went to school.  Oddly no Santas around today and completely no trace of yesterday’s festivities.  I taught 2 classes and tried to have as much fun as possible even wearing my festive Christmas hat.

Yay!  It's Christmas!!!

Yay! It’s Christmas Day!!!

After school, I chatted with friends and family all over the world, trying to work around the different time zones.  Then it was time to head over to ‘The Bamboo Bar’ to enjoy a roast turkey dinner.  It was a wonderful meal that tasted of home.

Roast turkey dinner

Roast turkey dinner

The absolute best part of my Christmas Day was organising, on the spur of the moment, to video chat (using my cousin’s skype connection) with my mother in South Africa.  I can’t even remember what we said but I just know we both cried a lot.  It meant the world to me just to see her face in real life.  What a great Christmas present…

After that emotional event, the festivities began.

Mel and I enjoying the festivies

Mel and I enjoying the festivities

Our group enjoying our Christmas celebrations

Our group enjoying our Christmas celebrations

After many cocktails and a fair size roast turkey dinner, it was back home (after all, I did have to work the next day).  There was just enough time to video chat with more family and friends before collapsing in a heap well after midnight.

So while my few days over Christmas weren’t QUITE the same as usual, they certainly were enjoyable.  The kids were fantastic and being Santa and handing out the sweets was the most enjoyable thing I’ve done in a long time.  I think, as with anything, Christmas is what you make it and wherever you are in the world, you can make it whatever you want it to be.

Hope you had a good one wherever you were.

 

 

 

 

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