About a week before observing Islamic New Year last week, we received an email that our Professional Development day had been moved from Friday to Thursday, November 15 (the actual new year) for the ex-pat staff so that we essentially had a 3 day weekend–instead of a Thursday holiday and then back on Friday for PD.
So ironic for Americans as this new year is being observed 1 week before our Thanksgiving, but Thanksgiving week is just another normal week. Well, actually, not normal in that it’s one of our first weeks in which we will have 5 consecutive days of school. But who’s complaining? Not me.
The unexpected 3-day weekend was the first time, that I actually scrambled and found discount tickets to Singapore to capitalize on our good fortune. While there, I was delighted (and somewhat jealous–I don’t regret living in a predominantly Muslim country. I really don’t. Only sometimes, maybe.) to stumble on the lighting of Orchard Road to kick off Christmas.
There are no markers of Christmas here in BSD (no wreaths, no reindeer, no pre-Christmas deals, etc.)–so coupled with the warm weather, it was oddly surreal to realize that Christmas had not been canceled. A strangely tropical glitzy Asian version of Christmas began with “We wish you a Merry Christmas” playing overhead at the airport. Christmas music has not lost its magical power.
I also met Jee Young, an international teacher blogger that I have been following since before I made my decision to become one myself. She accepted a new position in Singapore as I was moving to Jakarta. We met at a bakery across the street from my hotel. Random coincidences.
I’m still trying to get a handle on all the holidays. Check out the schedule for Idul Fitri. Unlike Christmas, it does not stay put. It can even be celebrated in different “seasons” which doesn’t mean anything near the equator, of course. I can’t imagine Christmas traveling its way across the calendar like that.
The next new years is ours, then the Chinese new year . . . so I better get started on my resolutions. But first, I plan to listen to any podcast that lovingly and reassuringly discusses last-minute turkey and sides preparations: The GoodFood Blog, The Sporkful, and the classic plus the smash-up.
Sniffle. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. The warmth. The food. The mashed potatoes. The gravy. The harvest-ness of it all. The cozy hearth. The launching of the holiday season. The lighted wreaths that just appear on the garages of my neighbors and eventually mine (after fall conferences are finally over) . . . My attempts at brining after I pick up the turkey 12 hours before it’s served which has been stuffed traditionally by my brother-in-law. My dad’s opening prayer. My sister’s worries about the food getting cold. My mom’s tart but creamy cranberry salad that only a select few enjoy. The pumpkin pie with real whipped cream. The mashed potatoes and gravy!!
P.S. There may be a Korean restaurant in my future to observe this celebration of fellowship and food. Komsahamneda!!