Christmas in Bangkok this year is really quite spectacular. Last year was our first Christmas here in Thailand and because of the year of mourning in honour of His Majesty King Rama IX, all celebrations were rather muted. This year however, Bangkok is all lit up! Almost every grocery store has a big tree decked out with decorations and lights standing proudly outside. The hotels are completely covered in lights (there is something wonderful about white twinkling lights wrapped around palm trees!). And then there are the shopping malls. Oh the shopping malls!!! First off, you must understand that Bangkok has some of the most beautiful, lux, GIANT shopping malls we’ve every experienced…and their basically all in a row down one major street. We decided to do the first annual Price family #ChristmasMallCrawl last weekend and we wandered, walked, and Skytrained from mall to mall for hours being dazzled by the massive Christmas displays.
Giant polar bears, Santa’s village, 30 meter tall bedazzled trees, fake snow, reindeer…it was all there…everything except Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and the manager. While the commercialized version of Christmas, the Santa version, has been gloriously welcomed into Thai culture, it appears as though the true meaning of Christmas has yet to become well known. We searched bookstores high and low here to try and find a kids Christmas book explaining the story of the nativity to give to one of our friend’s kids as a gift this Christmas. It could not be found.
There were so many selfie sticks in the crowds around the displays we visited that Matthew regularly had to duck and cover as they swung around. Santa and his elves can be spotted easily. But our Saviour, our Jesus, largely remains unknown.
It’s funny, the Christmas song “Go tell it on the mountain” has been running through our heads this morning. It’s never been a favourite. Yet as we reflect on it’s words (probably for the first time ever if we’re honest), it seems like the most applicable message for our current context.