24 December 2006

Deck The Halls

And yet another bizarre “Christmas” is all around, although this year I have a bit more insight into the why of it all.

Every business in HCMC is bedecked with garlands, wreaths, candy canes, fake snow, and the ever-present miles of tin foil covering trees, awnings and rocks. Last year I thought this was for the benefit of tourists, but it turns out that is not the only reason. In fact, Christmas is a half-day holiday for all workers in the country. It is a day to enjoy, and unless you are Catholic or Christian, has no religious significance.

I dread going into even the little corner market because I am assaulted with the worst of Christmas music; novelty tunes set to a disco beat. Were it traditional carols, or the Hallelujah Chorus, I would really enjoy it. But this stuff is like fingernails on a chalkboard.

Everyone assumes that if you are foreign you are Christian and that you go “home” for the holidays. They are either shocked or worried when I say I am staying right here in town. Even when I explain that I only actually get the 25th off of work, they seem to think I should be spending a small fortune to travel half way around the world, to suffer in the cold for a day or two.

My apartment complex, I must say, is the King of Decorated Buildings out here in the burbs. We have flickering lights adorning palm trees, wreaths on entrances to the different blocks, and three, large deer lounging in the garden. It looks kind of cool at night. In addition to the holiday adornment, in the past two months, the whole place has gone through a major face-lift.

A new management team took over and immediately took to redoing the grounds. The gardens were replanted and landscaped. New guard houses went up. Playground equipment was installed for all the kids. Just yesterday they finished the new name sign at the front of our complex. Although there are two other, similar buildings just across the street, we are looking far the best in the neighborhood.

All would be perfect if it were not for the penthouse above me that is still under construction after four months, and my insane neighbors with anger management issues. Last night their daily shouting match was augmented throwing bags of garbage at each other in the hall.

Peace on Earth