Christmas in Chiang Mai
by Nargis Kelley
Ever since I left Burma (Myanmar) as a teenager this is the first time I have felt the real spirit of Christmas. Of course there are many affluent people here who celebrate Christmas just like it is in the west with elaborate Xmas trees loaded with sparkles and piled with gifts, partying all month of December but on the other hand the majority of Christians who are mostly people from the various hill tribes bordering Myanmar and Thailand actually celebrate the birth of Christ. They cannot afford the luxury of decorations but their homes sparkle with the inner beauty of shining hearts and smiling faces. They go out caroling from house to house every night for a week before Christmas, only buy gifts of essential items such as a set of new clothing or a pair of shoes for their children (if they can afford it) and focus entirely on being happy and spreading happiness on such an auspicious occasion.
We had a caroling group come over to our place Friday night (one of the members is a friend of ours), sat around on the floor, played the guitar, sang some carols in Thai as well as in English and said a little prayer for us when they were finished - it was all so very sweet.
On the 28th of December Kevin and I are invited by a friend who belongs to the Kachin tribe of Myanmar to attend a Christmas service and lunch in a small village about 30kms from Chiang Mai where there is a small church and they have erected a temporary shed with bamboo and hay to accommodate everyone. We are really looking forward to this experience.
Kevin and I would like to wish all of you and your families a wonderful Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year!!!!!!!