I have been learning lately— home is a feeling, not a place. Although I was away from my family and in a foreign country this holiday season, this Christmas will always be special to me. Since Thailand is a primarily Buddhist country, Christmas is celebrated, but not considered a national holiday. Therefore, Phil and I had work on Christmas Day (Friday).
At our school, a Christmas celebration is hosted by the English department every year. I would compare it to a “Harvest Festival” in the United States. Instead of teaching, Phil and I spent the entire day playing games, eating various foods prepared by our students, judging a “Mr. Santa” competition, and helping with our school’s Christmas raffle. Weeks before Christmas Day, the students prepared skits, made cards, and practiced several traditional Christmas songs. Throughout the area where the festival was held, there were several booths set up dedicated to games, food, and student work. The “best of the best” Christmas cards, Christmas trees made of recycled materials, santa hats, and artwork were also put on display.
My favorite part of the day was watching a group of about 10 boys dress up as princesses and participate in a type of “Ms. Universe” pageant. The boys committed to their roles completely by dressing in gowns, wearing wigs, and full makeup (including false eyelashes), it was hilarious.I had so much fun watching our students dress up and take part in a tradition that is really special to me. Have I ever seen anything cuter than 50 Thai children singing “Silent Night”? Probably not. One of my students even brought me a stuffed Santa and handmade card! How could I possibly be unhappy with so much love surrounding me on a daily basis?! I am so lucky.
To make things even better on Christmas Day, the weather here in Suphan Buri has been fantastic. Currently, we are in the cool season (which lasts until the end of February). Since the beginning of December, the weather has dropped down to a cool 80 degrees, but it feels like 70 degrees. There is a breeze in the air that reminds me of California, I am thankful to have a break from the heat and constant sweating. It makes me laugh to see my students wearing sweaters and remarking that they are cold!
After school ended around 3:30pm, Phil and I went home to our apartment to begin our own Christmas festivities. Our evening consisted of a few of my favorite things: cooking, red wine, gifts, and Christmas music. One of my favorite hobbies is cooking and baking. Not only do I enjoy the challenge of a new recipe, but cooking also happens to be a relaxing activity for me. Cooking has been quite the challenge being “kitchenless” in our Thai apartment, but Phil and I have somehow managed. Our first week in Suphan; we purchased a blender, burner, microwave, and rice cooker. We have gotten pretty creative as far as making healthy food! Of course I miss my “Fiestaware” dishes and KitchenAide, but we will be just fine without them! This year, the menu included a cheese & cracker plate, homemade lentil soup, garlic bread, red wine, and an oreo pie. I am happy to say that all went according to plan. Although I miss my family, friends, and California dearly, this was a Christmas I will always hold dear to my heart.
And yes, we already have a trip planned for our New Year’s Holiday. Until then… thanks for reading!