After hearing Elvis sing about being home for Christmas every single year since I can remember, I always thought being away from home for Christmas would suck. Christmas is so wonderful for me, family coming together in new ways and old ways and traditions that remind me of being little. I am a stickler for my Christmas traditions but this year I broke them all.
This year marked the first time ever that I spent Christmas away from home and away from my family. And I spent it at a wildlife rescue centre in Thailand. Despite missing everyone back home, I actually had a ball for Christmas.
I am at the wildlife centre still (leaving on Sunday can you even believe it!), and we had a lovely little Christmas celebration here. On December 24th, we had a feast to take on all other feasts, secret Santa, karaoke, drinks and dancing until midnight with all of the volunteers, all of the Thai staff and friends of Edwin, the director of the centre.
Let me just stop to tell you about the food, because when you’ve been eating rice and spice for 2 months and cheese costs just shy of your first born child, you get really excited about Western cheesy food. And boy, did Edwin (+ co.) make a feast. We had pasta, baked spinach with cheese, caprese salad, Greek salad, French fries, bruschetta, and that was just the vegetarian food. For dessert, oh my goodness, I am still drooling thinking about the dessert: homemade apple fritters, homemade ice cream (blueberry and strawberry), and homemade tiramisu (which became the ammunition in a food fight later in the night – let me tell you, day old tiramisu does not make a nice smelling conditioner). I probably ate more dessert than main course food and I have no regrets.
Okay I know this photo is hardly Instagram worthy, but I was greatly appreciative of such amazing food. And 35 baht beer ($1).
After dinner was secret Santa. The Thai staff all picked volunteers, and the volunteers all picked Thai staff. I got Pi Nee, the food house lady who is a hard ass, let’s put it that way. It was my goal to get her to like me while here, and after making efforts to compliment her and learn Thai from her, Christmas sealed the deal. I got her these coffee energy drinks she has every day and a coffee mug with a gibbon on it. #nailedit. She asked for a photo with me and I don’t think I’ve ever been so giddy (I asked her to send me the photo but I don’t think she understood me). From my secret Santa, I got a massive box of shortbread. I’ve already eaten half of it…. Oops.
The night progressed to karaoke (shouting along to the one brave person with the mic), dancing, and drinking with the Thai staff. I spent most of the night bouncing between the stage with karaoke and dancing and whisky with the mahouts (elephant keepers who are all such ballers). I can now speak enough Thai and they can speak enough English that we pass jokes back and forth (spoiler alert: sex jokes are international) and it is a blast. I laughed so hard my abs were actually sore the next morning.
This is Road, the mahout for Jele the elephant who has stolen my heart. We shared some laughs and whisky.
So I wasn’t home for Christmas, which if I had been in a hostel alone and actually thinking about it would have devastated me, but I had such a good time this Christmas. It was so unlike my traditional Christmas that I didn’t really feel nostalgic (until Count Your Blessings from White Chridtmas came on, then I had a little moment to myself thinking of my family watching it without me). But this was definitely a Christmas to remember.
And now I’m off to pack to go to Chang Mai with these lovely ladies!
Merry Christmas to you all!
Until Next Time,
2 thoughts on “I was afraid Christmas away from home would suck”
Merry Christmas a bit late Rachel! We had a very special first Christmas with baby Summer. Missed having you at Louanne’s place for Levy Christmas and I made my nut quinoa millet loaf which was delish! And Miso gravy. Glad you had a wonderful Christmas. Love Aunt Karen 💚
Merry Christmas Rachel! I’m so loving reading your blog and living vicariously through you.. I remember spending one Christmas on the beach in Cambodia – it was a blast! I’m sure you’ve heard but you didn’t miss a white Christmas back home, 15 degrees in Toronto on Christmas eve!! I’m back in snowy Whistler now and it’s a winter wonderland here.
Look forward to hearing about the rest of your travels, so keep em coming!