Yesterday we had a very busy day! In the morning, we went shopping for a winter coat for Ellen. It's the coolest, driest month in Thailand currently and it's about 90 degrees here, so the weather in Washington state is going to be a bit of a shock for her. It took us a while to find something, because our child is a serious tomboy. She's got a major punk rock edge to her-- she likes to wear distressed jeans, graphic t-shirts, and black, black and more black. In Thailand, where the majority of clothing for women seems to be super feminine, this was a tall order to fill. But after a bit of searching we finally found a black sporty jacket with a hood that was warm enough and that she really liked.
We also found her a Christmas present while we were out, since all of our presents for her are currently at home and completely inaccessible. We had to do a bit of maneuvering to be in a position where we could get her a present without her finding out we were buying it and also to figure out what the heck we should get her, because really this is the most laid-back kid ever (except if you try to buy her things that are pink and frilly). But we managed, and her present is now safely wrapped and waiting for tomorrow.
Then in the evening, we met some family friends who took us out on a dinner cruise down the Chayo Praya river. I'd made the mistake of leaving my camera behind in the hotel room, and I was very sad I did because the views were absolutely breathtaking; all of the gilded roofs of the palaces and temples sparkled with thousands of reflected lights and the sheer size and beauty of the massive bridges we passed under left us breathless. We ate an enormous amount of food-- including a whole fish sizzling over a miniature charcoal fire-- and enjoyed the lovely company. We all had an absolutely marvelous time; I think it's one of the best things we've done here so far.
We came home fairly late and today was of course Christmas Eve, so we slept in and then took things fairly easy. We did go out shopping this morning to find Ellen another pair of new shoes, as she has already worn down the toes on the first pair we got her. She drags her feet when she walks, and on the badly broken pavement of Thailand's streets this means that her shoes take quite the beating. So we found her a new, more sturdy pair (in black, of course) and then stopped into a music shop to find her a beginner's course for her ukulele. After that we came home and spent pretty much the rest of the evening just enjoying each other's company.
It was an odd Christmas Eve for us; here Christmas is pretty much just a commercial holiday and so it was business as usual for everyone else. We have no stockings here in our hotel room and no Christmas tree. Normally I would be reading Connor the Christmas story before kissing him goodnight, and then Jer and I would wait until the little guy was asleep, fix some hot apple cider, and fill the stockings. Then we would set the table with our best china for our breakfast the next morning and leave a Christmas cracker at each place setting before heading off to bed.
But instead we're celebrating Christmas with our family on two continents. For me, Christmas has always been more than a religious holiday-- it's always been about family. So it's very difficult knowing that we're so far away from not just Connor, but the rest of our loved ones too.
I'm sure we'll have another Christmas when we come home in a little less than a week. And if we have to be so far away, I'm so glad that it's for the best possible reason. And I think that spending Christmas in Thailand with Ellen will mean that she doesn't associate it with loss or the confusion of an overwhelming and potentially terrifying new place, but with the celebration of a new adventure. We don't know what she'll think of America (though we suspect she'll plunge right in with her characteristic relish for life) but right now she's having a ball.
So an early Merry Christmas to everyone. Much love to you all!
5 days ago