With every intention of decorating our own tree, Colin and I bought origami paper while we were in Taipei. When that never happened and it was time to leave for Thailand, I brought it with us. Brian obliged and bought a small tree, nearly identical to ours, and multicolored lights to twinkle from its branches.
In short order, the tree was decorated and surrounded by presents. We’d been playing Christmas music from our computers for the last couple days, and by Christmas Eve evening, the four of us were pretty excited.
We chose a restaurant along the beach for dinner. Lantern salesmen released samples into the sky to draw attention, and someone had brought fire crackers. A few drops of rain sent the Thai staff scurrying to collect exposed table clothes, but we were mostly safe under the aged sun umbrellas over our table. I had a delicious chicken satay with peanut sauce, and everyone else seemed happy with their meals as well.
A friend of Brian and Summer’s (an English teacher from Boulder, CO) joined us afterward, and the five of us went to a nearly closed carnival behind the local supermarket. A band was performing for a lingering few while the clothing stalls closed up and the food vendors hawked what was left of their fare.
Recognizing the end of a party when we see it, we left to meet Summer’s work friends and wait for Santa at a nearby bar. White leather chairs seemed overly formal next to the wooden bar on the open patio, and it was an all-around anti-climactic way to finish Christmas Eve.
Christmas morning, however, had all the fun of surprises in stockings (Santa filled mine with chocolate but filled Colin’s with silly school supplies) and wrapping paper littering the floor. Colin gave me a big bag like I’d been looking for to carry all my school stuff and lunch (and sometimes shoes) on days I go to work, and inside it were two pairs of tights and a knit hat to keep me warm during our 50-degree winter. For him, I’d found a pair of koala bear slippers nearly big enough for his feet and speakers to replace the crappy ones we’d found to replace his broken ones.
Armed with Taiwanese Santa hats, we left for breakfast around noon and afterwards went straight on to the beach.
We opted for a home-cooked meal for Christmas dinner, and with only one burner at our disposal and three former residents of Italy in the group, risotto it was. Evening entertainment was “Love Actually,” and the whole night was really pleasant.