Thursday, December 22, 2011

Selamat Hari Krismas

Selamat Hari Krismas or Merry Christmas from Penang!  Tis the holiday season and our first one in a predominately Muslim country.  We knew this year Christmas would be different.  For starters it's a comfortable 85 and humid year round, we are a long way from home and not "everyone" here celebrates Christmas.  For many, Christmas is a public holiday here but the whole country doesn't shut down as it does in most Christian countries, the malls, markets and restaurants will be open and busy!

Aside from the religious differences, this Christmas season is among the best one of my life.  We are living in a place where people come from different cultures and religions and not only tolerate but embrace Christmas.  It is truly beautiful.  We have been to countless Christmas parties this month where regardless of race and religion, everyone brought their holiday cheer, sang Christmas songs and exchanged gifts. Restaurants are decorated with Christmas trees, Christmas music is playing in the background and the staff wear the traditional red and white santa hats.  It's Christmas in Penang and it's really magical, really.

It warms my heart to know that there are still places in the world where people are willing to open their minds and hearts and accept and embrace each other as their brothers and sisters, regardless of what god or gods they worship.  This year, for me, Christmas is about finding peace and joy in each other, in the places we live and the experiences we have.  I hope for each of you, this holiday you have peace and joy in your heart!

And now a few pictures:
Two weeks ago we attended a fundraiser at the historic Eastern & Oriental hotel with Tania and Manuel.  We spent the night drinking free flow beer and wine and singing Christmas tunes with our new friends!  It was so much fun and probably the wildest night we have had in Penang!  The band even played Feliz Navidad and La Bomba! It was awesome!

NI Christmas Party - Eric's work had a huge Christmas party.  There was the traditional potluck and gift exchange.  One of Eric's work colleagues learned how to play Christmas songs on his guitar and they all sing carols. Santa made an appearance! The office set up a Christmas tree and everyone embraced the Santa hat.  This picture really sums up Christmas here:


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