christmas eve 2009 (what turned out to be a family affair)

honestly, i've been fretting about christmas for quite a while. i've been missing home, and i've been worried about what christmas would be like. i knew it was stupid to do that, because whatever would happen would happen, whether i worried incessantly or not. but there i was anyway, at random times of the day, semi-freaking out about what christmas would be like.

for a really long time, family and i have gone to san francisco every christmas eve (except when we're in san clemente, of course...long drive). we go shopping, we eat food, we ride the cable cars, we walk pier 39 and ghirardelli square, we check out the tree at union square, and we eat at bubba gumps. same day, almost every year. and i love it. sometimes christmas eve is even better than christmas day.

but when i woke up today, it felt so like a regular day--get up, go to school, listen to the terrible thai music in the morning, prepare for classes--that i wasn't that ruined by not being home. our so incredibly nontraditional christmas eve became a hilarious joke throughout the day. merry christmas eve, now i'm gonna go give a quiz and teach some people. because it's a work day. 555.

i should say, though, that we've been playing so much christmas music that i found myself kind of tired of it today. when i went to play my music in the shower, i almost picked something non-christmasy, just cuz i think i've listened to all 400+ songs of mine already. and i've been turning on the christmas lights every day for at least three weeks now, and i've been wrapping presents like mad. and there are a fair amount of christmas decorations around town and in the stores.

oh, and my students have been doing christmas-related lessons since nov. 30. so i haven't exactly been missing the season.

but anyway, scuse the rambling. on to what happened today. maddy, tahsh, and i made little christmas bags for our teachers and some of the local people in town (laundry people, people who serve us food, that guy who makes thousands of copies for us, the woman who makes us our delicious coffee) and doled them out this morning to many thank yous.

around the middle of the day, the thai teachers in our office did that thing where they linger near our desks like they all have something to give us. after almost everyone gathered, kanchana presented us each with a gift. we opened it up and found the most perfect christmas gift a thai person could ever give us--a bright pink thai costume.

just about every thai person in the office has a shirt like this. just about every thai person in general has a shirt like this. the shirts come in every color, with all sorts of patterns at the bottom. and they're all equally hideous. about a month ago, the thai teachers told us that on tuesdays, we should wear our pink thai costume (that's what this is--not a shirt, a costume). like we have them lying around, and like we spent money on that when we came in the country.

but look--our having one of these thai costumes was so important that they bought us one of our own. this might be my new fave shirt.

anyway, after the gift giving, the day pretty much went on like any other school day. we peaced out around 2, gave out gifts to other people (which prompted many "merry kiiis-ma!" from the thai people), and came home. i graded some papers and went on a bike ride (p.s. remind me to show you my bike later). i got back around 6:30, and got a text from maddy that said something along the lines of "ogie just invited me to a christmas party with his family. 555." a second later, she called me to ask me if tahsh and i wanted to go, too.

well, we had all planned to go to korean bbq, but a thai christmas party with ogie's family sounded WAY more exciting, so we changed in record time, met ogie in a van downstairs, and headed off. some more people got in the car (included a student from my naughtiest class who i'd forced to sing in front of class earlier that day...lol), and we drove about 10 minutes away, to someone's sweet house just beyond tesco.

imagine our surprise when we actually KNEW people there. we'd assumed it'd be ogie's family, we wouldn't know anyone, whatever. but we saw some familiar faces from school (and realized just how connected everyone is to sa-nguan ying), and a bunch of people there recognized--and were excited to see--us.

it's like we actually live here or something.

when we first walked in, lots of people wanted to meet us. sounds cocky, but i really can't emphasize how much we stick out here and how damn fascinating we are to thai people just cuz we're not thai. but this one kid we met...man. first words out of his mouth were "i dunno why i have an american accent." in perfect english. i mean, some of my friends back home don't speak that well. this 10-year-old kid clearly didn't wanna talk to us but had the best english, so he was forced to welcome us to the dinner and show us the food table. then he peaced and started playing with balloons.

our christmas eve feast--pizza, fried rice, noodles, spicy beef salad, etc.--was followed by a "would you like some wine?" and that, a quick, "yes, red please." FREE WINE? EFF YEAH.

we played games with the kids (pwnd'em, btw), did some traditional thai dancing, sang "like a prayer" and "jingle bell rock," and generally laughed at everything our lives were right there at that fancy house in suphan on christmas eve. as the night was winding down, ogie's dad (who had been drinking heavily and whose english had, as a result, vastly improved) beckoned us to introduce ourselves, which we gladly did. after we did our speaking, ogie's brother, aunt, other aunt?, ogie himself, and maybe someone else thanked us immensely for coming. we hardly even talked to the thai people, aside from the few we already knew. they were just thrilled to have some americans around. trophy wives, the lot of us.

really, though, it ended up being a really heartwarming evening. this post is about a mile long, and i still haven't explained everything. there's no way i could. everyone at the party was so open and so excited to be able to share christmas eve with us. it was no bubba gumps with the fam, but how could i not have had a fulfilling night?

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