Holiday Extravaganza

16 Dec

aka Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas, oh my!

Ah, western holidays. Being in Bangkok has made me realize how random some of our holidays are. Take Halloween for example. I tried to explain Halloween to my Thai teaching assistant: the trick-or-treating, the costumes, the pumpkins (Thai pumpkins are green with really, really thick skin, so no jack-o-lanterns here)… As I explained, she looked progressively more confused, and I compensated by rambling on and on. Eventually, I was sharing how in Vermont we used to wear fleece and/or snowsuits under our costumes, and she was staring at me in polite confusion, wearing the Thai smile that says ‘you are a weird farang so I am going to continue to nod politely until you stop talking’. The only thing she seemed to understand was my (probably inaccurate) description of the Day of the Dead; Thais all believe in ghosts and honoring spirits, so that part was logical to her. This Thai confusion over Halloween showed in the costumes my students showed up in; one child wore a Dracula cape, a t-shirt with a skeleton on it, and a giant paper pumpkin on his head. Basically, his mom found everything related to Halloween she could, and put it on him. Lots of kids dressed like super heroes (they’re big into super heroes over here). There aren’t any Ricky’s stores in Bangkok, so finding Halloween costumes is tricky. The western teachers who had experience in the matter brought costumes back from the US. Orestes and I got our costumes from Big C, a Thai store similar to Walmart or Target; we found bits and pieces and made it work. He was Tiger Woods, I was Minnie Mouse. Pics of the Halloween house party the teachers had can be found below!

Then there was Thanksgiving. I managed to find cornbread mix and Italian sausage in Villa, the western supermarket, and made my favorite stuffing in our convection oven/microwave. It was my first time trying to bake in the thing, and I was convinced I would somehow make it catch on fire. However, other than needing additional time and some adjustment to “grill” mode, things went pretty well. We planned to have people over to our casa, and eat random Thai food with stuffing after school (no day off here). That afternoon however, one of the parents in Sharon’s classroom showed up with two entire turkey dinners, one for Sharon and one for her TA. Apparently, he works for Thai Airways and they flew in cooked turkeys fresh from the US. Sharon brought the turkey dinner to our house, and although it wasn’t the best turkey ever, it did come with all the sides: cranberry sauce, asparagus, stuffing, potatoes, dinner rolls… The week after, some of the teachers held a potluck Thanksgiving dinner, so we ended up having two full Thanksgiving dinners when I hadn’t anticipated having any.

Now we’re in the midst of the Christmas holiday season. I had originally planned to boycott Christmas; it is my first time spending the holidays away from home and my family, and it is hard to feel Christmasy when it’s 93 degrees. However, it turns out the Thais LOVE Christmas. Isn’t Thailand Buddhist, you ask. Well yes, yes it is. BUT, the Thais also love lights and shiny things, so decorating for Christmas makes perfect sense. All of the malls have Christmas trees, lights and cheesy holiday displays with large plastic Santas and the like. Apparently, Christmas is a big drinking holiday here – being Buddhist, they don’t actually celebrate with family and religion, but instead spend time in bars and restaurants. On Christmas, Orestes and I will be on a tropical island, but we have had several holiday gatherings thus far. Our friends Sean and Shorna held a holiday fiesta in their house two weeks ago, and this past Friday was the RIS staff holiday party. I also gave in and decorated slightly. As there are no pine trees here, all Christmas trees are fake. I refuse to have a fake tree, but one of the moms gave me several strings of lights, and the elementary secretary bought me garland in Chinatown, so I made a little display. I am also hanging all holiday cards lovely people send me : ) Finally, in an attempt to get in the spirit of the season, one of the teachers from Bromsgrove (the British international school close by) and I went ice skating in one of the malls. We wore rented neon orange, plastic hockey skates, so needless to say our moves were amazing. It was -1 Celcius in the rink, which made me wear a light sweater with rolled sleeves, and made the Thais wear full winter gear.

So there you have it folks. The farang holidays in a nutshell as celebrated by us so far. And now some photos…

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2 Responses to “Holiday Extravaganza”

  1. Elaine McCormick December 19, 2012 at 6:48 pm #

    Enjoy your Island holiday; looking forward to reading about it. Love Ya!

  2. Tiffany January 20, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    This actually looks like a lot of fun! You look fabulous….and happy!

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