Friday, December 11, 2009

Seas of People: A Christmas Memory

In the spirit of my friend Serene's recent post, here is a reflection on a favorite childhood memory: Christmases without snow.

In a predominantly Muslim and Buddhist culture, Christmas was the "Christian holiday." Around the church compound, the trees twinkled with lights for all to admire. It was indeed a moment to be proud that I belong to this church. That it was Christmas. That Christians were celebrating.

For the church, it was the most festive day of the year. The buildings were swarmed with people dressed in their best attires on Christmas Eve. By swarmed, I mean there were three or four services right up to midnight and each service was packed and overflowed with seas of people.

Those who did not usually go to church came on Christmas Eve. Services were more evangelistic in nature, and the Gospel was presented. There were candles and dancing, plays and choirs. There seemed to be hundreds of children, each rejoicing over the bag of gift they received. Each contained an apple, some sweets, and other junk foods. I remember dancing with the tambourine alongside my friends, singing O Holy Night. I do still love that song.

On the first Christmas Eve my family spent together in the States, we arrived at church half an hour before the service, for fear that there would be no where to park. We were so puzzled when we found the parking lot empty. The sanctuary was empty. People slowly trickled in and when the service started, the building was barely half-filled.

I now understand that here in the States, people travel on Christmas and most of the celebration is done prior to Christmas day. But Oh, how I missed the festivities, the crowds, and the faces, not at the mall or the airport, but at church.


serene555 said...

Aaahhh...we're really getting into the spirit of reminiscing aren't we?

Those gift bags were one of the highlights of Christmas for me as a kid.

Christmas is usually pretty quiet here as well (in the church arena that is) as a lot of people go overseas on holiday during this time.

Picking up on your mention of 'O Holy Night' do you remember the time when we as a youth group went caroling? The song I remember most is 'Angels We Have Heard on High' because we worked really hard to get the harmony right for the chorus 'Glooooooria, in excelsis deo'

Ahhh... good times... good times

Seda said...

yes, we are. =)

those very things were on my mind as i was writing this, but i resisted the temptation to make it any longer as i was/am suppose to be working on my paper. opps.

remember how adamant wini was about doing the harmony? then again, she is passionate about most things. =)

and also, i remember you commented how much you liked the lights.