I told my nephew that the Grinch stole Christmas and brought it to Cambodia! He is four years old and absolutely loves the Grinch. He wakes up every morning and asks for us to put it on. I told him that they’ve really got the Grinch all wrong in Whoville, because he had some really good morals and wanted to restore the true feeling of Christmas for those plagued by materialism and jaded by “’who does it better’’. My nephew went on to tell me that I actually was the Grinch and I couldn’t really argue him there because I’ve spent the last six Christmases in Cambodia and I’m a professional recycler at a social enterprise. As the Grinch went to live up a mountain and recycle the trash from Whoville, I started to think a bit differently about if he really did steal Christmas or give it back its true meaning. Though I did enjoy decking in the halls with balls of holly the day after this Thanksgiving, I was looking quite forward to my regular “White Christmas” in Cambodia, on a white sand beach with a piña colada.
There is, indeed is something to be said for a Cambodian, white-sand Christmas. It’s a different kind of Christmas and I happen to like it. I’ll be walking down the sandy beach seeing ex-pats, locals and tourists in their beach attire with a Santa hat and it really makes me smile. Though the Cambodians don’t generally celebrate Christmas in their own culture, they do captivate the spirit of Christmas in their day-to-day lives, every day. The Cambodian way of life is all about being grateful for what we have, celebrating and spending time with the ones we love. Christmas is about sitting around in a circle and sharing stories, laughing and appreciating our lives/ loved ones. This spirit is something that we can feel very strongly in Cambodia, on the regular. I believe packing up the family for a Cambodian Christmas would be a huge hit and a Christmas to never forget! It would be a Christmas filled with the true spirit of gratitude that sometimes has gotten misconstrued by corporations and competition.
In my optimistic opinion, the times are changing and many don’t want all the random stuff that we buy each other that ends up in a bottom drawer somewhere. Money is better spent by having enriching experiences with the ones we love. These experiences will last forever and they will change the way that we live our day-to-day lives. Hopefully these types of experiences can bring us closer together, help us re-prioritize and bring more gratitude into our lives, which is what I think Christmas is all about. In the past year, I’ve seen many more people thinking this way and instead of buying useless gadgets and clothes, people are spending their resources on experiences and donating to charities. I think this is a really great way to do Christmas and you can be sure to still get a delicious roast dinner… even on the beach! As many western people have decided to move away from Western society all together and move to Cambodia, they are here to ensure you find a delicious Christmas dinner that we look so forward to. So, after a day of tanning, laughing, singing, games and swimming, you can pull up for a no mess-no fuss Christmas dinner! One could even get back to work for the new year with a tan, as beach weather is perfect this time of year!
So, this holiday season, why not try something new? I’m sure you’ll have a Christmas to never forget! Whether you spend it on a sandy beach, on a high-rise, rooftop pool in the bustling cities, in a quaint fishing village by the river or out in the rural countryside I’m sure you will expand your perception of what Christmas truly means. When you let the beauty of Cambodia and its magnificent people into your heart, you will be changed forever. The spirit of Christmas thrives in Cambodia. So, cheers to this Christmas and the true spirit of gratitude and appreciation! You’ll find me with my toes in turquoise water, butt in white sand, pina colada in hand, Santa hat with a bikini and gratitude in my heart. Of course, there is also no holiday cleanup to be grateful for! There are many reasons to keep the spirit of Christmas alive year-round and I hope you do! Wherever you are and wherever you go, may your Christmas be merry and may you be truly thankful for all the blessings that we are so blessed to have every day.