Christmas 2012 was very surreal. Every year I take a moment of silence for people celebrating Christmas in the Southern states because I just cannot fathom how 80 degrees and sunny feels festive and Christmasy in any way. I have now lived it first hand and my opinion hasn't changed. Despite the crazy pop-Asian Christmas shows and twinkling lights everywhere, it felt like any normal day.
Just because it didn't feel like the holidays didn't mean we weren't going to force it. First we foraged for the best Christmas tree we could find and trimmed its brown, ant infested branches with beer caps, leaves and tied up pieces of Wipe On DEET sheets.
|Vertical Christmas tree made possible by lots of dental floss securing it to the post.|
Next we followed our crossdressing waiter to a Christmas Eve party down the beach. It wasn't very 'umpin but we succeeded in procuring free Santa hats for everyone, got a few dances in and made our new friends sing Christmas carols all the way back up the beach.
The best part of Christmas was meeting two Polish girls, Goja and Ewalina, at our bungalow. I spend every Christmas Eve at my Babcia and Dziadzia's house celebrating Wigilia. Part of the celebration is that before dinner, everyone gathers in the living room, we say a prayer and then we break oplatek. Oplatek is essentially edible cardboard with a pretty design carved on top. Everyone gets a sheet of oplatek and you go around the room giving every single person a hug, telling them "Merry Christmas, Peace be with you." Then you each break off a piece of the other's oplatek and eat it. You have to be careful around children in the group as they will try to take the majority of your oplatek before you have a chance to get to all the people in the room.
So when Goja and Ewalina told me they had oplatek I almost started crying from happiness. We gathered all our new friends together and broke oplatek. What I didn't realize is that traditionally people give personalized well wishes, not just a simple "Merry Christmas". My family must skip this step because there are so many of us, it would take 2 hours before we could eat.
Trying to come up with personal well wishes for people you've only known for 1 day can be a bit of a challenge so you frantically try to remember what they've told you about themselves then make a lot of assumptions. Let's see....you've quit your job to go traveling indefinitely...sounds familiar. "My wish for you is that you have safe travels with not very many mosquitoes or cockroaches and that when you return home you find a fullfilling job and meet the man of your dreams." Or to the lesbian couple trying to get pregnant via the sperm bank: "May you find potent sperm from someone with a high IQ that will produce a baby that resembles your beautiful wife." There is no way you can walk away from breaking oplatek without a huge smile on your face.
|Breaking oplatek in matching pants|
Christmas morning we opened $1, will probably break in two days, night market bought gifts under our tree. We also gave some Light My Fire sporks (best spork EVER) to our new friends.
|Goja & Ewalina doing their best "American smiles"|
We finished the day with a scary hike through the jungle, in the dark, with only 1 working headlamp and then feasted on an all-you-can-eat, Thai style Christmas buffet.
Merry belated Christmas to all our friends and family!!