Merry Christmas, or Happy Christmas, depending on your geographical location. While I don’t believe the superstitions I do support th pe holiday, I celebrate it because my family does. It’s also a good time to try a five star buffet, if you’re alone and in Asia.
i remember the Christmas buffet in Laos, with suckling pig and goose and all kinds of other meats and treats appropriate to the occasion.
I rmember the department stores in Saigon, with their elaborate displays and decorations. Particularly the Saigon Tax Centre (peace be upon it) . The four story building filled with electronics and tourist goods went the extra mile each year, putting up reindeer and santas, Christmas trees and snow flakes. It was the premier decorated store, and on Christmas eve, walking back from work, I struggled to get through the pedestrians crowding the sidewalk and taking pictures.
i remember a Christmas on Bui Bien, me and a neighbor/friend ate turkey legs he bought at the store. We drank beer in plastic bottles from Hoa Vien–the best brewery in town–and sat on his balcony watching the police surround an alley and capture a dead man.
I remember my first Christmas in Saigon, living in my best friends apartment for the month he took off to return to New York and his family for the holidays.
I remember office parties where the children unwrapped presents and left the floor of the venue covered in glitter and fancy paper. A mess we left for the staff to clean up, something that was very foreign to me from my own experiences in church growing up. We always stayed to help clean up and it seemed odd to let such a mess alone for someone else.
In juxtaposition to that, I remember tossing trash in the gutter. Street cleanliness in Saigon is the job of an underclass that sweeps the streets nightly. When my best friend protested, I simply said I was creating jobs, which I was.
Beer and wine made for good fellowship and camaraderie.
Things now which I must avoid, for my own good and the good of others. Though I did try non-alcoholic wine for the first time Christmas Eve. It’s not very good and when I need the taste of alcohol I’ll stick with near beer which is much better and doesn’t leave me grouchy the next day.
But Christmas, yes, Christmas. A special time of year regardless of beliefs, for even Buddhists celebrate it in a way, they just don’t offer a holiday for the day.
So to all who read this blog, Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and may the New Year bring you many good things.