Friday, December 25, 2009

My wistful Christmas email to family and friends

As I sit below my stocking, I can't help but realize the stark contrast this Christmas poses against all former Christmases. When I open my window, I'm greeted with heat and humidity, not the cold winter chill that initiates the drinking of hot chocolate. When I walk outside, sweat beading across my forehead, there is no snow to pick up and throw at my friends. Glancing about, there are no trees, no tinsel, no lit up houses--just my stocking above my head, swaying in the breeze of the fan.

My home away from, well, my guesthouse has been the little coffee shop up the road that has set up a very small plastic Christmas tree next to its counter. I sit in that coffee shop for hours brushing up on some economics readings, but the real reason is because I can order ginger snaps with whip cream on top and listen to Christmas music coming through the speakers. It makes me homesick, yes, but my time could not be better spent any other way.

I just received a package full of candy and gifts sent by my family; the stocking above my head was enclosed. I felt like a little school boy as I rushed to the balcony with my brown parcel and placed it on the ground between my legs. Times like this don't need a chair, just an open piece of floor and lots of space for throwing wrappings. Two of the guys that work at the guesthouse, Ravi and Rajesh, brushed aside their duties of cleaning my room to rush to the balcony also. They've never experienced Christmas. I think their faces were just as lit up as mine as I pulled package after package of candy out of the box. I had a hard time explaining why my Christmas card was all nephews were degraded to little people in order to get my point across.

I immediately fetched a plate from the guesthouse kitchen and piled it high with all sorts of goodies for the guys that work here. I don't think they experience too much kindness. They all work 7 days a week and don't even have a space to stay. When I come home at 1 or 2 am sometimes, I can see them all scattered about on the floor, many of them cuddled up with each other, a single candle lit in the corner to keep the mosquitoes away. Some are in the lobby, some in the dining room, and the remainder in the kitchen. There are about 10 of them. Just the smiles and ambiguous excitement that ensued from the sight of the candy laden plate was enough for my Christmas present. One of the smaller guys walked up to me and shook my hand saying, "Happy Christmas!" Wonderful.

So on this Christmas Eve, I want to thank all of you for your love and support, your kind wishes, and your season's greetings. You've all influenced my life in some way shape or form, and for that I am forever grateful. From my religion to yours, Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Season's Greetings! Happy Holidays!

With much love,