I don’t do resolutions. I mean, I’ve made them before, but I never end up doing them. I’m sure many if not most of you can relate. But each December/January for many years I’ve had 3 glorious weeks off work which always provide me with reflection time and renewed energy for starting off a new calendar year in a fresh way.
On a normal year (pre-overseas move) I would use the time off before Christmas to shop, decorate, shop more, wrap, visit Christmas Tree Lane, go to the Nutcracker, bake, attend church concerts, go to friends’ homes for parties, and so much more… it makes me tired just thinking about it! (See some pics from decor in the states just below.)
This year the week before Christmas was spent doing only a tiny bit of shopping, putting up some lights and a nativity scene (a far cry from the boxes of decor I used to spend an entire day putting up in California), and camping at an amazing rock climbing camp north of Bangkok. Very refreshing, and I did not miss the busyness from the states one bit! I did miss my decor, all the lights and a freshly cut evergreen tree, my snowman collection, decorating the mantel…but with being in a tropical place it felt okay to decorate differently and sparingly. Going to see Handel’s Messiah earlier in December set the mood for a focus on the season.
Because of moving to Thailand, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were of course very different than usual as well, and although we made our own little Christmas here and enjoyed the reason for the season just as we did back home, we missed the normal family Christmas that we had participated in for many years.
In the states, we we had celebrated Christmas Eve by attending a beautiful candlelight service at church, then by heading to the home of my oldest cousin. The kids always looked forward to this very much, as it was great fun with the older cousins, full of delicious food we’d all help out with, and opening of gifts. My parents were always there, my aunt and her husband, my cousin’s in-laws, and my grandparents before they passed away. The evening had an energetic vibe to it, even as the kids have gotten older.
Christmas morning, 2012 (T 6 yrs old, A 9 yrs old)
In Bangkok this year, we arrived home from camping on the afternoon of Christmas Eve. We decided to proceed with a candlelight devotional at home, since we were too late to clean up and drive downtown to a Christmas Eve service. We looked through all the Christmas cards we received from new friends here and from our friends and family from back home. Then we listened to Christmas music and opened up presents from loved ones who mailed us gifts, and gave each other our gifts. It was a nice evening together.
In the states, we celebrated Christmas day by relaxing by the fire in the morning at home, doing family gifts, and then having my parents over to do gifts with them. Then we’d all go over to my youngest cousin’s home and relax the day away with food, conversation, and games. The first thing the kids did upon arrival was to look for the hidden pickle in the tree. The last few years we especially looked forward to this day because my cousin’s daughter would be home from college. Christmas Day had an easygoing vibe going on.
This year we had a very lazy Christmas morning, and enjoyed calling family from back home as it was still Christmas Eve there. We then went in the late afternoon with friends out to dinner at the Outback. It was an expensive but delicious meal of steak and prime rib, and a great time with our friends and their kids. Following dinner, we walked around some areas of Bangkok that are decorated with trees and lights and such. Although Christmas Day is just another day in Thailand (it’s a Buddhist country, no celebration of Jesus’ birth here except by the 1% of Thai Christians and the Christian expats & missionaries), they have adopted the west’s decor for Christmas time, such as lights, trees, snowmen, nutcrackers, and even reindeer.
The week after Christmas and this week have been a refreshing mixture of sleeping in, visiting some places around Bangkok, and taking time to do some meal planning (my big accomplishment during the break was to set us up for eating healthier), and set up some new home organization systems. It actually is how most of my breaks in the states went, too. Except instead of seeing Bangkok, of course, we usually went snow skiing and maybe to San Francisco or Monterey Bay. I didn’t ride my bike nearly as much as I thought I would, but I’m okay with that.
For the last couple weeks I have thoroughly enjoyed my down time and time with my immediate family and my Bangkok friends – always wonderful to recharge and find yourself ready to take on a new year! I have missed these 18 cuties you see above, and I look forward to seeing them in a few days to see what they’ve been up to for the last three weeks. After all, THEY are why we moved overseas in the first place!