Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve - Already?

I was planning on writing a blog today related to the two Buddhist funerals and the village exorcism that I witnessed on Wednesday of this week here in Isaan.  It was only when I sat down to commence writing the blog that I realized that today is Christmas Eve here.

To be honest, I am not comfortable writing and sharing Animist and Buddhist rituals on the eve of one of Christianity's two most holy of holidays.  Yes despite the focus on holiday sales statistics and their possible impact on the economy, the focus of Christmas should be on the reasons for the holiday to begin with.  I do not want to disrespect the holiday by detracting from the Christian beliefs.  There will be other times to share some of the unique aspects and insights of life in Isaan.

I can imagine all the husbands and fathers busy finishing up with the last bit of shopping for gifts.  Once they have returned home, they will spend hours assembling the bicycles, big wheels, and wagons to place under the Christmas tree for early morning discovery by their children.  Of course there will be some of Santa's cookies, milk, as well as some of the reindeer's carrots to sustain them until they can finally go to bed.

There are many ways to measure the passage of time and one of them for me is reminiscing about Christmas's past.  I have written about some of them before but at this time of the year the memories of Christmas's past just keep on coming.

I remember one of my father's aunts, an aunt that we only saw once a year at the family Christmas Eve Smorgasbord.  She still retained a Swedish accent and when questioned how she was doing she would reply "Well not so good you know I have been feeling kind of poorly".  Years later I leaned that she had been feeling kind of poorly since my dad was a young boy in the 1930s.  She continued to feel kind of poorly long after I had grown up and moved away.  She continued to feel kind of poorly until she died in her 90s.

As a young man and father, I celebrated New Year's Eve with special traditions.  I had been married on Christmas Eve in 1971 so for 15 years, Christmas Eve was celebrated with a special meal either at home or at a special restaurant, drinking champagne or sparkling wine purchased the year before in the Pewter wedding goblet, and after dinner I joined all the other fathers in wrapping boxes as well as assembling toys. The marriage ended and then the children were grown with lives of their own.

As life moved on Christmas Eve evolved with modified traditions and in many cases new traditions.  Change is inevitable and can overwhelm us if we resist.  However if we bend with the changes our life can be enriched and even made better.

The memories of Christmas past can provide us with comfort and solace as we move on in life.  The adapting and creation of new traditions can sustain us as we write the new chapters and assume new roles of our life.

For this Christmas Eve, Duang and I , wish that everyone is able to take comfort in their Christmas pasts and allow themselves to make happy memories for the Christmas to come.

For our Christian friends  we hope that the true meaning of Christmas remains a big part of your celebrations and joy.  Although the ideals of the holiday are often not upheld it is the constant trying to bring peace and joy to the world that must continue.  We can't cave in to cynicism for the world actually starts with each of us.  If we can bring peace and joy to ourselves the world will well on its way.

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