This was my fourth Cambodian Christmas and each one has been different. Christmas lunch the first year was ham, cheese and tomato sandwiches in a friend's kitchen. In the evening we went out to look at the Christmas lights at some of the big hotels and the US embassy, then out for dinner. The second one, I went to the Anglican church service (none at ICF that year), then had lunch alone with a book at a favourite restaurant, combined with a phone call from the family. Last year my sister and brother-in-law were here, so it was a little more "normal", with church at ICF then out for lunch, a phone call to mum, and then home to pack so I could move house the next day.
Sambath helps decorate
Rithy helps decorate
This year was different again. It started with music practice, followed by church at ICF, then I headed down to school where one of the teachers from the UK had bravely offered to cook Christmas dinner for whoever wanted to attend. In the end we had just over 30 people there. I was responsible for decorations, and was very grateful when some of our Cambodian staff offered to help me, especially when it came to climbing ladders. I do not like Cambodian ladders! There were a few expats there, and a considerabe number of the Cambodian staff, who were intrigued by the whole idea of Christmas. I set the Nativity set up, and simply let it be there, so that those who came might see part of the reason for Christmas. It created much interest, and I think was really appreciated by our Christian Cambodian staff. As I teach at a secular school I have to be very sensitive about religious issues, and so I choose to say little, and let the Holy Spirit do the talking. If someone asks questions I'm not ashamed to say what I believe, and I pray that one day the seeds that are planted in this day will grow into fruit, but that's God's job, not mine. Here are some snapshots from the lunch at school.
L to R. Alex, his friend, and our Chef extraordinaire, Ben!
Karen & Mr Dy (with Esther & Tabi in background)
Kunthy and Heather - not working I hope!
Tabi with her Christmas Hat!
The photos are all out of order since I couldn't get them to go where I really wanted them. Computer or internet connection is too slow today. Sorry about that.
Anyway, after taking down the decorations I headed across a few main roads to visit some friends from ICF, who had invited me to come and share a time of music, conversation, and more food. It was a lovely low key way to spend the afternoon. Finally I headed home to Skype the family in Australia. Christmas in Cambodia is definitely different, and I love that the rampant commercialism that is present in many western countries has not yet reached this country. Yes, there are a few decorations, but mainly in stores frequented by foreigners. Christmas Day is "just another day" for most Cambodians.