Did Central Asia just contaminate my Christmas?


We’ve finally lived in Central Asia long enough that I’ve started to associate some of the places here with holiday memories.

I went to my favorite store to buy Christmas stuff (for my local readers it’s Ideal Home at City Center on Tole Bi and Baizakova) and found twinkle lights, a tree topper ornament and incredibly cheap gift bags (which people here use instead of wrapping paper).

All of this merchandise is being sold for New Year’s since this the majority of people here are Muslim and New Year’s is the biggest holiday for all post-Soviet countries anyway (complete with a “New Year’s tree”), but that didn’t bother me at all.

We bought a box of special cookies and headed home to start a tree-decorating party with the kids.

But when I plugged in my new Christmas lights at home, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

They were bright red. You know, as in “red light district?” Somehow this pulsating area of town that makes me want to vomit had found its way onto my Christmas tree.

Gone was the feeling of “how far I’ve adjusted culturally.” It was replaced by “I can’t believe they would even sell something like this here and ruin everything!”

Actually the lights were made in China for Mexico since all the labels are in Spanish, so maybe I should blame that country.

I told Jake of my disgust and he told me he liked red.

“OK,” I thought, trying to remind myself that cultures are different and that I’ve already managed to adapt to not having a real tree, no day off on Christmas and a million other things. Maybe this was something I could adjust to as well.

In the end, though, it was a no-go. Somewhere you have to draw the line, and I knew that if I had to look at a Christmas tree that reminded me of prostitution for the next six weeks, I would be very very sad.

I asked Jake if we could put the party on hold and buy some more lights. So we packed the kids in the car one more time and went to the store. The kids had a great time and I realized that $13 is a small price to pay for a little holiday happiness.

Now I just have to get out the candle to make it smell like a Christmas tree in my house…

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