Singapore Adventure

Friday, December 29, 2006

Christmas Present
by jima

As Venitha and I settled into a week of holiday hibernation, it occurred to me that with the recent craziness of life (our trip to Bali, many doctors' appointments, the any-day-now - really - completion of my latest project at work), we'd made no plans for Christmas itself. And while we've always been low-key about holiday decorations (no outdoor lights for this lazy person!), we've taken it to new extremes this year. Our Christmas decorations still remain packed in boxes in the closet, and while I snatch kisses whenever I get a chance, nary a twig of mistletoe adorns our doorways. December 23rd was the first day we played any Christmas music at all, Venitha digging a festive recording of her favorite, Sleigh Ride, from the depths of her computer.

I have numerous excuses for my "Bah, Humbug" attitude, the first being the really wretched Christmas music that our local supermarkets started playing in mid-October. Nothing strangles my goodwill toward my fellow man quite as quickly as a soft-rock cover of "Hark the Herald Angels" mocking me while one beloved Christmas dish after another is sabotaged by not-to-be-found or not-in-stock or not-quite-right ingredients.

Hostility toward the holidays, if not the desire to deliver a swift kick to the shin of one particular skinny Santa-suit-clad busker mangling "Jingle Bells" with a Western twang when it's 30°C, is typical among expats, the theory being that when all the wonderful and feel-good parts of the holidays, from my mom's chocolate cookies to singing Silent Night by candlelight on Christmas Eve, from my mother-in-law's box of goofy gifts to my nephew's blonde curls peeking out of his Santa hat, are stripped away, all that remains is the rampant materialism, and it's enough to leave even Santa less than jolly.

I doubt Santa would like this weather, either. It's certainly performed more than its share of sabotage to my spirits. Venitha and I both grew up and lived most of our lives in temperate climates, which means Christmas is at the very least cold, and at the very most, snowy. I miss bundling up for a walk around the block to admire the holiday lights. (Few of our neighbors are as lazy as I am.) I miss the the hard crunch of snow under my feet. I miss seeing my breath as I walk down to the mailbox to liberate scads of holiday cards and photos. And no matter how scantily many local women dress, steamy and rainy just doesn't equate to "ho ho ho" for me.

Mostly, though, we miss our family. Last year at this time we enjoyed a wonderful visit from my mother, my oldest brother, and his family of four, hands down the best Christmas present that either Venitha or I have ever received. This year it was just the two of us, one last Christmas before "just the two of us" turns into "just the three of us", and it was hard to ignore the bells clanging the good tidings of white Christmases future and to truly savor Christmas present.