Saturday, December 26, 2015

Boxing Day 2015 - In Isaan


Duang Making Treat Packs
The day after Christmas, 26 December, is a special day in some countries - especially Great Britain, Australia, and Canada.  Here in Thailand it is a regular day just as yesterday, Christmas, was.

However today was a special day for Duang and I - yet another day where family and the opportunity to help others make for an excellent quality of life for us.

Duang's sister called early this afternoon and asked if we could help out with the Christmas celebration at the small Christian church outside of Thasang Village.  Thailand is 95 to 97% Buddhist but people of all faiths are allowed to worship as they choose.  There is a large Catholic Church and school here in Udon Thani.  I have seen and on a couple of occasions spoken with Mormon (LDS) missionaries.

Duang is a devout Theravada Buddhist - praying and meditating roughly an hour everyday.  We have a large shrine area upstairs in our home where she conducts her rituals.  Some aspects of our life are dictated by her faith.  I do not mind and her faith was one of her attributes that I found attractive 10 years ago.

I find it ironic that given the small numbers of Non-Buddhists here and with Duang's strong Buddhist faith, her sister and brother-in-law are Christians.

Every year we go to the small church to participate in the Christmas celebration - live music, tons of precocious children dressed to the nines, singing and dancing.  For me there is also a great deal of speaking in tongues - Lao and Thai, although the minister does speak English. The children receive presents - often care packages fro church organizations in the USA.

It was a good thing that I had agreed to help out.  Duang had not given her sister an answer because she wanted to discuss it with me first.  I agreed to provide milk and snacks for the children.  When Duang shortly later called her sister to tell her and to find out an estimate of how many children, Duang heard the minister in the background announcing to the congregation that "Yai Duang and T'Allen (Grandmother Duang and Grandfather Allen ) were coming tomorrow with treats"

Duang set off to buy bags of treats and milk for 100 expected children.   She was gone less than 5 minutes when I heard a car pull up to our house - it was her cousin, his wife and two daughters - 4 and 6 years old.  These are the two little girls that like to visit abut every 4 to 6 months.  I enjoy their visits - they like being photographed.

Today was a special visit. Nong Gem and Nong Goy had gone to their school's end of the year party.  Here in Isaan, school party means getting dressed up and participating in your class's entertainment skit - song and dance.  They were on their way home and stopped by our house.

Nong Gem and Nong Goy
The girls were wearing their special holiday dresses and were still wearing their make-up.  They were just took cute.  After they wai'd to me, the first words out of their mouths were "Merry Chritmass (sp) T'Allen!"  They are both learning English in school.  I immediately called Duang to have her come back to enjoy a quality visit.

When Duang returned we were entertained by the girls.  Each of them sang and danced their routines from the party.

Nong Gem performed two songs - go-go dancing to the video her Mom had recorded on the I-Phone.  It was fascinating to see her doing the same moves synchronized with her performance on the phone. She had all the moves that you see at the outdoor shows or in the Go-Gos.  I kept her laughing - every time that she did a hip or pelvic thrust, I acted like it was knocking me over.

She wanted to go sing and dance at some big national competition which is coming to Udon Thani early next month.  Her teacher told her that she could not because it was a school day and she was too young.  The little girl was not pleased.  She has asked her father to go talk with her teacher.  She wants her dad to tell her teacher that if she can not go sing and dance, she is never going back to school!  She was so focused on dancing that I was concerned about her school studies.  Duang checked with her parents and told me that Nong Gem was the #1 dancer at school AND she is 95% student.

Her younger sister Nong Goy, 4 years old,  performed one song - very well and seemed to prefer singing more.  It was a very entertaining visit and a wonderful prelude to tomorrow's party.

Duang went off and returned with two cases of boxed milk - not just any ordinary milk but a new kind - coconut flavored milk that the vendor had Duang drink first to see how good it was.  "Very good, aroy aroy, I like, good cold"  Sounds good to me.  She also had three bags of snacks - deep fried banana chips, crab flavored spicy crackers, and sugared corn tubes - kind of like Cheetos without cheese and sugar instead.

Here in Isaan you can by big bags of treats.  How big?  Very BIG - roughly 3 feet diameter and 5 feet long.

It May Be Boxing Day, But For Us It Is Packaging Day!
Duang and I sat on our living room floor to make 100 bags of treats for the children.  Each bag contained 5 "Cheeto" tubes, 3 banana chip slices, with the plastic bag topped off with the crab flavored crackers.  We ended up with a nice assembly line - I filled each bag with the Cheeto tubes - any that did not pass our high quality standards - I ate. Duang finished the bags which I kept count of and eventually placed in two big bags to haul off to Thasang Village.  It reminded of the old days, in a land far far way during a much more simple time - when my mother, my sister and I would sit down and prepare individual "Trick or Treat" bags for Halloween.  In those days, people did not have the money. or at least in our neighborhood, to give away candy bars.  In fact I don't think that there were even miniature chocolate bars available to give children.  Of course those were also the early days of the baby boomers - not unheard of having up to 100 children showing up at the door during the night.

Working together we produced 100 individual bags for the children.  Duang said that we should make 105 bags for Buddhist children like Peelawat, Kwan, Tay, and Pare who would be sure to show up.  I disagreed and said that we would make 108 bags because 108 is a very significant number in Buddhism (I like to joke around with people - even if they may not always get it).  The nice thing about these parties is that all children are welcomed.

In the end we enjoyed our Bagging Day - I mean Boxing Day!  It will be a busy day tomorrow - a great deal of excitement as well as some photography opportunities.

Well it is 11:00 PM here now and Duang has finished making her dress for tomorrow so I will close and call it a day.


  1. Loved it Allen- John G Medeiros

  2. Thanks John - We had a great time. I have 350+ photos to edit and post process. Tomorrow is a big photo day - 11 elementary schools competing in athletic events, and dancing.