Traditional Christmas Eve In The City Of Angels
It's a traditional Christmas Eve here, not Winter Eve, not Holiday Eve. The Grinch who is trying to steal Christmas has not yet discovered this city.
In the lane where I live, some shops have decorations and signs with the actual words "Merry Christmas". There are no signs saying "Happy Kwanza", or "Happy Hanukah", or "Happy Winter Season". Some people might feel offended.
This afternoon, as I walked into the building where I live, the doorman greeted me with a hearty, "Merry Christmas, Sir". He did not greet me with some bland alternative.
Tonight in the lobby of the building, a choir of school girls came to sing Christmas carols. They sang the traditional ones, including "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" and "Silent Night, Holy Night". All the words followed the original lyrics. Some people might feel offended.
And all of the school girls in this choir have similar skin color. There was no forced attempt to achieve a quota of racial mixing. The choir director for these 8-12 year-old girls is a middle-age man. This man is not a sexual predator; he's their music teacher.
Santa Claus came along, too: a robust, jolly man with a hearty laugh and a huge bag of gifts for the children here. This Santa was a white man – Caucasian – just like the traditional Santa used to be. And he had a pillow under his red costume to ensure he looked traditionally obese. In some places, obesity is against all the regulations.
After the caroling, I walked to a nearby restaurant for their Christmas Eve dinner. Not a Winter dinner, not a holiday dinner; the sign indeed said, "Christmas Eve Dinner". Dinner was roast turkey and roast pork with sausage stuffing: real meat, not some healthy, low-fat, or vegetarian substitute. And for desert, traditional plum pudding with hard sauce: real hard sauce, the kind that soaks into your arteries and refuses to leave. Hard sauce hasn't been banned here, yet. I'm certain some people would be offended at the menu.
At the next table, a young couple had just finished their meal. They were enjoying an after-dinner cigarette. Yes, in the year 2005, they were smoking inside a restaurant. And nobody here seemed to care. Can you believe it?
Feeling quite satisfied, I strolled back home in the early evening. Along the way I was greeted with the occasional "Merry Christmas to you". Not everybody was friendly – this is not Disneyland, after all – but I did see many smiles.
Ah, yes, Christmas is here, in the traditional way. No grinches lurking around, trying to enforce diversity, multi-culturalism, food regulations, anti-obesity campaigns, or no-smoking regulations. Nobody standing over your every move to make sure it won't offend somebody else.
And as I walked back along the lane, I couldn't help noticing the dozens of smiling, giggling, prostitutes. They looked so adorable in their little, red, Santa hats and their short, short, skirts. Prostitutes have been a tradition around this part of the world since long before the birth of Christ. Some people offended by that tradition, too.
This year I am enjoying Christmas in Bangkok; a city whose name — in the local language — means, "City of Angels". Seems a fitting name for a place where men still have the freedom to enjoy Christmas as they wish.