Perhaps because I am now one of the many expats living in a largely nondenominational community, within a Hindu pocket of humanity, amongst a Muslim majority, that Christmas creates nothing but a momentary blip on the screen of festivals and holidays.
Nevertheless, offices, banks and the post office were closed for a few days; stores and supermarkets were festooned with glitter and cotton balls (in lieu of snow), clerks wore their red Santa hats to work after capping off their morning prayers and offerings by sticking a few kernels of rice on their foreheads. What a sight.
Even with the occasional sighting of fake trees, Christmas-themed cookies and restaurants offering over-priced dinners, I was grateful for the absence of candy canes and fruitcakes, larger-than-life neon decorations plastered outside big-box stores, and huge billboards luring customers with the promise of the lowest prices, the largest flat-screen TV, the best Christmas ever.
Instead, I marked the day in a low-key fashion, and concentrated on the little gifts that came my way…
Like going for an early morning swim… picking up fresh strawberries at the organic market… noticing that the bag lady was eating (someone’s Christmas leftovers perhaps?)… seeing that Werner was sitting – and wiping his brow – at his regular table at Nomad’s, his dog by his side, a Bintang (beer) in his hand… joining others from the Bumi Sehat community, at Ibu Robin’s house, for prayer, food and celebration… and, the biggest surprise of all: the comfort and warm welcome from my long-time-no-seen, furriest friend, Hamish.
Each one alone may seem trivial, less than monumental, just passing moments of a day; but all together I realize that the day opened me to: giving gratitude, sending blessings, nourishing my body and sharing songs, love and friendship.
Merry Christmas to all.. and to all a good night.