Christmas Past part 1

I’ve been thinking lately of Christmases past.   At the time these Christmases seemed feeble attempts at the real thing, but today I view them as fond memories.   My first Christmas outside of the United States was in 1996.  I was a new teacher at International Community School in Bangkok , Thailand.   About 6 weeks in to my contract I was terribly homesick for all that I left behind in the States, so I was really looking forward to a traditional Christmas at home.   It was hard to get beyond all that Christmas had been all my life and enjoy Christmas in Bangkok.   In the 1990’s Bangkok decorated somewhat for Christmas though most of the light displays were really in honor of the King’s birthday in December.  Still, we Americans saw them as the closest thing to Christmas light displays that we would have.  For some reason the many malls around Thailand decorated for Christmas.  Thai people by and large do not really celebrate Christmas and certainly the New Year was a more widely celebrated day.   Yet, there would be Christmas decorations and declarations of “Merry Christmas”.   These displays were not exactly what I was used to.  That first year the department store Zen, at what was The World Trade Center, had a “Punky Christmas” theme.  They had reindeer displays with neon orange and pink afros.   We never could make out what this had to do with Christmas.   It was strange indeed!  It didn’t fit the mold of Christmas, but it did make us laugh. I actually ended up buying a reindeer boy and girl with these same vibrant afros to hang on my tree…they are still there today!  Don’t ask me to explain myself as the only reason I can give is nostalgia.  The Christmas trees that adorned many of these malls were shiny pink, blue, orange or other unseemingly colors.  Terrible renditions of Christmas music or musak were piped throughout  as well.  It was really odd to be surrounded by all this and then step out into daily life in the city with its heat, pollution, and culture.  When we teachers wanted to feel particularly in the Christmas spirit, we would go to one of the 5 star hotels downtown to have dinner.  The lobbies of these hotels were fairly decked out with trees, lights, gingerbread houses and the like for the foreign travellers.  They were also rather cold from the blasting air con units, which helped combat the stifling heat of a 90 degree Christmas.   We could also dine at many of the city’s pub house type restaurants for traditional Christmas meals, when we were so inclined.   A colleague of mine and I were going to be flying home to be with our families for Christmas, however, we couldn’t get a flight out until December 23.  Being a 24+ hour flight meant that we’d arrive back in the States on the morning of Christmas Eve.  We were already feeling low because we would get home and Christmas would essentially be over.  We decided to go to an Irish Pub for a Christmas meal.   This Pub called Delaney’s, at the time, served a wonderful Christmas Buffet with all that you’d expect.   We ate and then left for the airport late that night.  We were so thrilled to be going home for the holidays.  I’m not sure if my friend had the exact same experience, but I came to really cherish my first Bangkok Christmas.  When I arrived home to be with my family, it didn’t turn out to be all that I had conjured up in my mind.  It wasn’t their fault.  I was so jet lagged that I essentially slept through Christmas.  Christmas at home didn’t end up being at all like my childhood memories.  I had put too many expectations in to the holiday.  My life had changed, their lives had changed and well, how could I expect things to be the same?  However, what did happen, is that a fondness grew for my little upside down life that I was living overseas.   I came to embrace all the unexpected, non-traditional things occurring in my life.  I went back to Thailand a changed person.  I was ready to be in Thailand with all that entailed.  I suppose that is why the punky reindeer are still on my tree!  They serve as a little testament to a really fun time in my life.



  1. Thanks for sharing. I love the idea of the ornaments being reminders of where you’ve been and the incredible life you have lived. Maybe I could make some ornaments with stacks of stuff for you to hang on your tree to remind you of your time living with me! 🙂 We do have some fun memories!

  2. LOL! I would love a “pile” ornament.

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