Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Abroad

After three months of hiding in the mud, The Clam is back. I have been keeping myself busy though, but being away from the keyboard this long has left me confused about how to get started here again. I was so consumed with the US election that I started my second blog, not to mention the family one and now I don't know what to write on all three.

Regardless, in my three months away, I started a new job, learned how to play guitar, grew a sweet mustache and made some solid plans for the next couple years. You could say it was productive, but in reality I filled it with too many hungover mornings. Still, I'm back now and I figured I'd start out with a couple thoughts on my third Christmas abroad.

As you'll recall, I was in Cambodia two years ago for Christmas. Western holidays aren't widely celebrated in Asia of course and Cambodia is no exception. It's almost like they go out of their way to avoid it actually. Rather than a turkey, ham or figgy puddy (I'm actually not sure what the hell that is, but Brits seem to get excited about it) they brought out their street food staple: fried tarantula.

There was so f*cking way I was eating that arachnid, but there were some expats digging right in. Good for them. I'm willing to try seahorse and scorpion in China because I don't have a lot of first-hand experience with such creatures, so the exocitism of the experience takes over there, but a spider is just way too close to home. All in all, it was a nice Christmas because there was no mention of it. We exchanged presents under the pretext of the holiday, but Camboida itself could care less from what I witnessed. They understood that Cambodia as a nation does not celebrate the holiday. As much as they try to globalize and compete in the region, they know that mimicing the West is not the way to do it.

Korea, on the other hand, tries so hard to celebrate Christmas and, for that matter, mimic everything that the US does. Yet, they claim it to be uniquely Korean. The gaudy trees that are never decorated well come out at just the right time, techno verisions of "Last Christmas" replace the classics and millions of Koreans walk thoughtlessly past the Salvation Army Santa. And of course, the worst part of the whole thing is how Christmas is equated to romance. It's Valentines Day in December. People buy gifts for significant others and usually leave family and friends in the cold. Like Valentine's Day, the absurd Christmas holiday is just another excuse to merchandise more useless crap.

It's unfortunate.


Harriet said...

Tarantula? That is the first I heard of that!

Remember, there is no place like home for Christmas.