Christmas in Thailand

Even with three to four years cumulative time living in Thailand, I am still not used to how different Christmas is here when compared to the U.S. It is different not only in terms of how the culture in general "celebrates" the holiday, but also how Christmas is celebrated at church and in the family.

Christmas in Thai Culture

Thai Santa Claus

Thailand is over 90% Buddhist so December 25th is just a normal working day like any other day. Buddhists don't celebrate Christmas - that is unless you own a department store or mall and want to get on the Christmas consumerism bandwagon. Because Christmas in the West is barely a religious holiday anymore, all that most Thai people know about Christmas is Santa Claus, gifts, Christmas tree, reindeer, and snow. And, of course, that Christmas is a foreign holiday, and therefore not for Thai people. But because of all the superficial hoopla in the West, many Thai people see Christmas as a fascinating curiosity. The big malls (which there aren't many of outside of Bangkok) put up some tinsel, sell Santa hats and fake Xmas trees, and have special sales, advertised, not as a Christmas sale, but something like "Amazing Gift Festival". And, like in the West, some Thai people find it fun to get on the superficial commercialized Christmas bandwagon. However, there is little to no knowledge about the true meaning of Christmas in this nation of Buddhists that has less than one percent Christians.

Joshua Unwraps Gifts

Mommy and Daddy each had a few gifts but Joshua was the big winner as far as Christmas gifts this year. Actually, we hardly bought him anything all, but other people, especially Grandma, showered gifts upon our little man. Last year, Joshua didn't know what to do with gifts except stare at them and tap the box but this year his ripping and tearing skills were much better developed.

Joshua tears into his first gift from Grandma

A Great Cloud of Witnesses (on CD)

Since Sun hasn't been feeling well because of the pregnancy, I've been taking care of Joshua more than usual so that she can rest but I run out of things to do with him and get completely exhausted. On the days that he decides to wake up at 5 am, it doesn't help matters. And, frankly, I can only build towers with blocks or watch him drag pillows around the house so much. Keeping him from getting permanent head damage from his climbing (and falling) expeditions also gets old after a while. I love the kid, but often times I would rather be doing some language study or sermon prep instead of watching him for hours on end. But, in any case, I decided to try to make the best use of time, so while I lie on the floor and try to prevent Joshua from hitting me with wooden blocks or plastic tubs, I also listen to sermon CDs. I don't always get through a whole CD before he needs a snack from the kitchen, or a piggyback ride, or the something else happens to take us out of his room, but I have been incredibly blessed by some of the good preaching I've been listening to while watching Joshua at home, and while driving around town with him doing errands.

I was given a set of CDs from the Shepherd's Conference (MacArthur's pastor conference) and it is just excellent to hear some good solid Biblical expositional preaching and teaching. I've heard quite a bit of preaching here in Thailand and frankly, a lot of it is not that impressive. The church here seems to suffer from the same ailment as Western churches - sermons that don't really teach the Word of God but rather merely use a verse or short bible passage as

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