It’s Christmas Eve here in Bangladesh, but if it weren’t for my calendar and my Internet connection, I would have no idea. Makes me laugh about the post I shared last year from Korea titled “Christmas Without Christmas.” Wow. If that was Christmas without Christmas, I don’t know what to call my experience this year.
Unlike last year, I have avoided listening to Christmas music because I was afraid it would just make me sad. This year, in addition to missing all the lights and decorations and festivities that are synonymous with the holiday season back home, I’m really missing the childlike anticipation I always felt—even as an adult—about waking up Christmas morning and seeing the tree and enjoying a special day with my family.
Luckily, I was able to change my teaching schedule so I’ll be available to Skype with my loved ones on their Christmas, which is really when Christmas is happening for me, anyway.
And, if I do start feeling depressed, I remind myself that I’m relieved I don’t have to deal with all the commercialism associated with the holidays and all the pressure people put on themselves to bake the perfect cookie or give the perfect gift or host the perfect party.
I imagine my students sitting with my family on Christmas morning and seeing all the presents and all the food. Heck, just seeing the house itself would blow their minds!
As I write this, I realize that I have spent so much of my time here feeling lonely and isolated that I have forgotten to be thankful. This Christmas, again, I remind myself that generosity, goodwill and gratitude are the most important aspects of this season to me, and that here in Bangladesh, I have so many opportunities to practice all three.
So on that note, I’m going to listen to The Nutcracker Suite by Duke Ellington and play with the five puppies we have in the house … because nothing says Christmas like The Nutcracker and puppies … at least not in Bangladesh!
UPDATE: After I posted this, we drove around Jessore in search of some holiday lights. The first stop at the Catholic church yielded only a small nativity scene. There was, however, a field full of fireflies next to the church, which made me really happy. (God’s Christmas lights perhaps?) Our second and final stop at the Baptist church delivered a pretty good attempt (see below). Incidentally, when Bangladeshi couples get married, they cover their homes with lights–which put this Christmas display to shame.