Christmas exploded in Saigon after Thanksgiving-- it exploded just like this store right down the street from the castle (which otherwise sells random lights and disco balls and batteries):
When I wandered into this shop last night, a pimply twenty year-old followed me around telling me, "You are implessed! You are implessed!" while shoving tinsel, ornaments and Santa hats in my face. I was impressed, I guess. I think I was more "incredulous." Saigon Christmas is Consumer-y, it's Fun-over-the-top, it's No Shopping Stress. It's "This is cool in other places let's do it here, too." I asked Thuy (who is Buddhist) if she celebrated Christmas. She was very eager to tell me, "I do not, but I am happy for you." That seems to be the attitude. People aren't rushing around buying gifts (not even the 20 percent or so of the population that is Catholic), it just seems to be good PR if Santa, his reindeer or snowmen grace the front of downtown stores. Maybe they are "Business Santas." Oh, and I did see one baby Jesus (I think that is him...):
A-Net just wrote asking if I had seen any Santas riding on the back of motorbikes and believe it or not, I did see one just this evening.
And everywhere, absolutely everywhere, you see baby Santa Suit Stands selling outfits such as this one, modeled by this Christmas girl:
Two weeks ago in Nha Trang, we saw fake evergreen trees with lights interspersed with the palm trees lining the beach.
We at the castle are getting ready for our weekend parties. Today, right out on our street, I found a (fake) Christmas tree, with ornaments, for 80,000 ($4.80). George Michael's "Last Christmas" was playing in the store. I got some strange looks carrying it home. We have tinsel, stockings, lights and music, too.
Despite all of this, I am surprised every time someone writes to me telling me "Christmas Plans." It has been much cooler lately, high 70's, low 80's, and the motorbike babies have been dressed in their wool caps and everyone is wearing heavy coats. Nam shivers on the way to school. It's a perfect temperature.
But Christmas? It all feels so strange!