We’re skipping Christmas. Are we? I think that’s what we’re doing; I’m writing this to sort it all out. According to the calendar and Facebook, the Christmas season has been upon us (those that celebrate) since Thanksgiving. I saw the posts about skipping Black Friday shopping. My e-mail box has been full of ads for things I don’t need. I’m sure there are countless catalogs waiting to be thrown out at home. NORAD Santa Tracker has contacted me to let me know it’s almost time to track the jolly fellow’s route. “Jesus is the reason for the season” is popping up occasionally and Elf-me videos are making a comeback. Apparently, Elf on a Shelf is doing all sorts of hysterical things this year in his quest to become famous. So, if I take my cues from electronic media – the Christmas season is upon us.
Interestingly enough, there is no indication here on our island in Thailand that Christmas is near. I haven’t seen any Santas at the mall – because there aren’t any malls. People seem surprisingly relaxed. They are going about their business trying to make a living to put food on their tables. The kids are playing with strings tied around rocks; really. Those dogs at the shelter? They have no clue that Christmas is almost here; no one is dressing them up like Santa or a reindeer. They’re just glad no one put fish-hooks in their food when they were living on the street. That guy selling garden tools from his bike? I’m sure he’s headed home to his McMansion that’s wasting more electricity on that community Christmas light competition than his neighbor uses in a year. I guess the shopping frenzy will really heat up around the 24th. Yeah, I’m being sarcastic. It’s my mood today; full-on sarcasm.
I would be fine skipping Christmas this year; the part of Christmas where you buy stuff and have to go to a million parties or look like a schmuck. The problem is, we have an 11 year old. I still want her to see the magic in it all and there are some things I miss. The lights, the music, the time with family – oh, wait, we have to fly across the country for that, or at least halfway for Jim’s family – the time with friends who are now like family, the hot chocolate, the candy canes, remembering the real reason for Christmas, doing good for others, the tree and watching Lil and her friends decorate it while I sip something caffeinated on the couch – these are the things I miss and I know Lilly is missing. She’s watched the movie “Elf” about 5 times in recent days. I miss meeting a friend for coffee (if we can fit it into our schedules), I miss taking Lil and her friends to see the Christmas lights and doing goofy things. I don’t miss having to make all the lists and the fear that I’ve accidentally skipped someone on my Christmas card list. Am I Scrooge? No. I’m seeing things differently now. By necessity, I am being forced to skip all the things I dislike about the holiday season. It’s refreshing. Christmas isn’t “in your face” here. It’s non-existent. It’s stress-free and I hope that somehow I can carry this thinking into next year as Christmas falls upon us back at home, hopefully without any weird social backlash.
This year, we will be spending Christmas in Hanoi, Vietnam. We’ll probably get a little plant (our “tree”) and make paper snowflakes. I’ve heard we can attend a church service and go to a traditional dinner. That might happen, might not. I’ll read “The Night Before Christmas” on the 24th. We’ll talk about what we’re grateful for (I know, this is a Thanksgiving conversation, but we’re a little behind). We will walk around and try and find some Christmassy things to look at, as I’ve heard there IS Christmas in Vietnam. We won’t be sending cards. Know that we love you anyway and we think of you all the time. I’ll get back on that bandwagon next year. There won’t be a ton of gifts under our Christmas plant. There may be a few things I pick up at local markets, but I’m guessing my budget will be about $20. Sweet. Maybe we’ll go to a rice paddy and see some water buffalo, or we can go into the tunnels that were used during the Vietnam War. Sound depressing? It doesn’t to me. It sounds like reality. Yes, I love Christmas – parts of it. I sure don’t love all the consumerism and the need to do so much and stay so busy and get so stressed.
I guess I’ve come to the conclusion that we aren’t actually blowing off Christmas. We’re just having a scaled-down, ultra-light version. It’s the simple things that matter. Lil and I miss our friends so much…this matters. We miss our dogs…this matters. We get to spend time with Jim…this matters more than anything. Writing this cleared a few things up for me; I’ll be missing friends and family, the holiday spirit and certain traditions. Other than that, I’m good skipping everything else that’s on the long to-do list that is Christmas. Happy Holidays!