Out in The City

 |  November 30, 2011

There are some gay Scrooges out there. Smug that here, in Chiang Mai, December 25th is not a public holiday, and who feel that they are somehow liberated by not having to be full of seasonal cheer and goodwill to all men. They hate writing those cheesy cards and wrapping gifts or listening to carollers lit by candlelight lanterns. I am not one of them. I am more bum-hug than hum-bug. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss the crunch of snow underfoot or the horrid, chipping the ice off the windscreen ritual. The thought of an obese man, replete with white beard and dressed in the livery of Coca-Cola, invading my bedroom with a heavy sack, does not float my boat. I never attended midnight mass or watched those fireside Christmas specials on TV. Ill-fitting woollen jumpers knitted by maiden aunts are a blessed thing of the past. As is the dreadful Yuletide build up that sees the festively decorated trees erected by Harrods/Macy’s/Printemps in October to maximise seasonal profits. Let’s face it, there is no real Christmas in the west.

Christmas Day in Thailand is just that: one day. A day that sees diets discarded – I love the food! Brunch on smoked salmon and lightly scrambled eggs with crisp, hot toast and crisper chilled Champagne. An afternoon spent on the telephone to family back home who are all sick at the thought of having to spend their day in the company of relatives who they avoid for the rest of the year, is a gift in itself. They complain about the weather. They complain about the cost. They complain about everything before wishing me a, ‘Merry Christmas,’ in tones that cannot disguise their envy that they are not here with me.

And on to the main event. Dinner! A few friends, carefully chosen, singular souls who appreciate a good table; the centrepiece is a small Victorian tree, made of wood and dangling with tiny carved ornaments that glint in the candlelight which catches a sparkle in the wine glasses. A tempting amuse bouche and stimulating starter are savoured while the nostrils fill with the heady aroma of a golden roasted turkey. It comes to the table, stuffed, steaming and is served with homemade bread sauce, pork chipolatas, gravy sauce and the most fabulously crunchy roasted potatoes and assorted vegetables. Appreciative oohs and aahs punctuate the merry chatter, glasses are chinked, second helpings are welcomed before steamed plum puddings with Cointreau butter. Then some Stilton with a decanter of Late Bottled Vintage 1985 Port – pass that bishop (to the left) please. Coffee and brandy? Of course.

Another Christmas done with until June 25th, when we do it all again at our house. That’s how much I love it. NB: My boyfriend Wat, is available for outside catering!

James Barnes is editor-in-chief of OUT in Thailand Magazine.