Since living the dream life in Southeast Asia it has been hard to recreate the magical Christmases from back home. Christmas is celebrated in Thailand but it just doesn’t feel Christmasy. It drags along without magic, meaning or momentum only to end in lacklustre and a hangover. Tomorrow will be my third Christmas in Thailand.
In a Manila mall, we sit under bobbles and festive jingles as walking dead mall cops pass between tables. Festivities start earlier than expected this year. Christmas is in full flow before Halloween has ended as we travel in the Christian country of the Philippines. Arriving to Thailand the following week the balconies of skyscrapers which surround my Bangkok condo are lit up with flashing fairy lights. We join the Christmas cheer by touring the Bangkok Christmas Lights to snap photos of oversized, corporate branded ornaments. Where a month remains to Christmas Day excitement fades, balconies cease flashing and life returns to normal.
Christmas in Thailand is not tradition. As a predominantly Buddhist country, the Christmas traditions in Thailand are imported from all over the world. This makes it hard to replicate the Christmas I know. Mum’s cooking, dry turkey, perfect stuffing, Christmas crackers, sherry trifles and mince pies. Just a few missing ingredients. Being ovenless means our only turkey option is from our local western food market. A giant pre-cooked 5kg bird for the two of us. Instead, we will treat ourselves to well-marbled T Bones with unfamiliar trimmings. Skyping home to family shows the family tree, colourful parcels and tins of chocolates.
The Missing Ingredient
Family is the heart of Christmas. The rest is just decoration. Christmas markets with mum. Dad’s horrendous singing at Church. Reuniting with the friends and relatives which I ignore throughout the rest of the year. While I have my loved ones here in Bangkok I wish desperately to have them home to celebrate with family in Bangor in Northern Ireland.
Update Christmas Day 2012
Mum’s traditional stew made the perfect lunch after finding oxo cubes and Bisto in the local Foodland. For decorations Tesco (Lotus), for wines and Belgian beers Wine Connection. Downloads of Christmas favourites for entertainment and the cat in her Santa outfit for the perfect Christmas away from home.