The Stupid 365 Project, Day 82: Christmas Parade

December 23rd, 2010

Here we are, an antidote to the Kardashians.

These happy little Buddhists are students at a Bangkok school, celebrating a holiday that has no religious meaning to them, unless you consider joy to have religious meaning.

Note that the sign is in English.  Probably a class project, and what better way to learn a foreign language?

This entire production probably cost all of twenty dollars.  The kids and their teachers made the signs and either sewed the costumes — such as those of the white-clad young ladies with the red sashes and the ubiquitous Santa hats — or assembled them from clothes the kids already owned, as in the alternating red and white outfits of the little girls holding the sign.

Here, from the rear, are the shepherds who, in one of the greatest pieces of instinctive stagecraft in all of written history, see the angel and the heavenly host in the skies above their flocks, and go with their sheep to observe the miracle in Bethlehem.  The kids in white are the sheep.

For some reason, these pictures move me deeply.  They seem to say more about Christmas, in their threadbare, improvised joyousness, than all the commercial decorations and tinny, faux-reverent Christmas songs put together.

We all know sheep will stray, though.  If they didn’t, they wouldn’t need shepherds.  And as the parade progresses, the sheep, probably wanting to be closer to their friends, strayed to hang with Mary and her attendants.

Mary’s grasp of the Infant is pretty unceremonious, and something to the right of the shot has drawn the eyes of her attending angels, but she and the baby are safe.  And I hope God took a moment out of his day to bless the teacher in the foreground for bundling up in that scarf when it’s clearly in the mid-nineties.

And, lagging behind, deserted but happy, the shepherds share a laugh.

Happy holidays to all of you.

12 Responses to “The Stupid 365 Project, Day 82: Christmas Parade”

  1. Beth Says:

    There is no better picture than the last one.

    Does joy have religious meaning? Joy provides the meaning to Christmas and Easter. If there is no joy, then the days have no meaning. Joy and laughter have accompanied the birth of most children.

    About 20 years ago, when my son was 5, I was responsible for one of those Christmas pageants that re-enact the story in the Bible. I had a group of 6 and 7 year-old all kitted up for their roles.

    At the very last minute, the innkeeper backed out. My son was sitting in a pew near the front. I grabbed him, told him he had to say that there was no room and sent him up to the altar. He delivered his line perfectly but the priest decided to have some fun. He asked my son what he would have said if he was the innkeeper that night. My son’s instant response was, “I would have told them they could sleep in the lobby.” An absolutely unrehearsed moment led to an eruption of laughter for the approximately 1200 people in the church.

    There was joy because a five year-old broke everything down to its simplest parts: if someone is in need there is always a way to help.

    I am sure that the teacher is blessed by God a few times everyday. The kids are filled with joy and the spirit of good fun because she allows those moments to unfold in her classroom everyday. No matter how old those kids get,they are always going to remember her.

    Merry Christmas.

  2. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    What a wonderful story, Beth, and your pictures are wonderful, Tim. To me, this is what the holiday season is all about-the irrepressible joy of children, and the spirit that cheers us adults. Your love of Bangkok just shines through all this. The land of smiles? I always want to use the word charming and lovely. This may be corny, but “God bless us, everyone.”

    (Oh, and I’m charging my new Kindle as I write, yay)

  3. Bonnie Says:

    So, spent the day at the office, but not much work got done. Younger brother Scott texted me from Tucson about gift for deceased brother Mike’s employee, with me eventually looking online to see if Fry’s groceries carried prime rib on sale. Further communications re: perfume purchase for his wife, who is a peach and proves that the third time can indeed be a charm, at least in the marriage department.

    My mom’s doctor has advised her to change things up for the holidays so she is not so poignantly reminded of Mike at every turn, so we are having Christmas tomorrow night at Scott’s (a first), Christmas dinner with her husband’s daughter’s family and, best of all, Scott and his wife Judy and I are “kidnapping” Mom and Bill on the 27th and taking them to Bisbee for two days, where we are renting an über-comfortable apartment and planning various tourist and stay-at home activities including, I understand, some kind of board game entitled “Truth or Crap,” which according to my sister-in-law is a sort of dumbed down Trivial Pursuits. Scott already excited about making sourdough waffles and I don’t know what other treats for breakfast, Judy and I plotting to hit the consignment and thrift stores to find antique hats to wear to the tea Mike’s friend Liz has invited us to later in the week on what would have been his 56th birthday. At the very least we will witness a reenactment of the gunfight at the OK corral in nearby Tombstone and take a tour of the old Copper Queen mine on a train.

    So my Christmas is about family this year and will be both sad and glad. I’ll stay pretty wired, so look forward to continuing to be inspired by Tim and all of you. Still, in case not, happy holidays to everyone!

  4. Gary Says:

    What a lovely antidote to the Munsters! (Apologies to the PC persons – perchildren – among us.)

    Two weeks ago I sat in a park at Carols by Candlelight with a young Chinese couple, and tried to explain the nativity scene to them. I’m sure most of it went way over their heads but, as the girl put it, they “enjoyed the cultural experience.”

    What more could anyone ask for?

  5. Lil Gluckstern Says:

    Very poignant, Bonnie. Have fun doing the tourist things. Peace.

  6. Robb Royer Says:

    Merry Christmas! Now to business. I’ve just discovered David Foster Wallace who I’m betting you and your gang already know much about. Would you write a blog about him so’s I can ask some questions?

  7. fairyhedgehog Says:

    I hope you and your family have a good time this Christmas!

  8. Laren Bright Says:

    Wonderful way to start a Christmas Eve Day. Indeed, blessings to the teacher who put this together.

    We have a Chinese couple who are living with us (well, the husband is because he works at Cedars as a neuro-biologist researcher & the wife is at UCSD finishing up her Masters. But she comes to stay here with her husband every once in a while.) They are Christians, though, and very firmly ensconced in living their religion, which I think is very admirable. It is a living thing for them, who are probably fairly new to it, instead of an obligatory process for many who take it for granted.

    I don’t know what they’re doing for Christmas, but I do know that for the last two days they went to…wait for it… Vegas.

    Merry Christmas to all, and to Tim, who, for today only, might be referred to as Tiny Tim.

  9. Gary Says:

    Half of my Chinese couple lives with me, as my flatmate. The young Chinese guy, English name Shawn, is doing his Masters in environmental engineering, and his girlfriend, English name Sylvia, is a regular visitor to our apartment.

    Shawn got a toy Shaun the Sheep for Christmas – Shaun the Sheep is a BBC animated TV series for kids – and Sylvia got a toy wombat, a native Australian animal that looks somewhat like a furry pig. As Sylvia was leaving she gave me a big hug and said, in front of her boyfriend, “Thank you for your warm bed.”

    Awkward pause. Say what? “Oh, yes,” I finally said. “So glad you liked the wombat.”

    Cross-cultural stuff is great, isn’t it?

    Well, it’s already Christmas day down here, so Grandpa now has to shoulder his bag of presents and head of to see children and grandchildren. It’s non-PC, but Merry Christmas anyway. And, as Tiny Tim would say, God bless us every one.

  10. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    Merry Christmas Eve day, everyone. Glad you could find the time to stop by.

    Beth, what a wonderful sweet funny story. That’s the holiday spirit, stripped of all the glitter, claptrap, and banknotes it’s wrapped in these days. And I agree with you about that teacher; she’s one of the ones the kids will always remember, even if she doesn’t look like she puts up with much in the classroom.

    Yay, Lil!!! Kindle emancipation at last. Listen, e-mail me at, and I’ll send you a FREE (Everett, Gary, you’re so smart — how can I make a word blink on and off?) FREE copy of CRASHED. You’ll start out the holiday season by saving $2.99!!! And happy holidays.

    Bonnie, here’s hoping that the holiday is more glad than sad and that you can use the occasion for good memories of your brother. I’ll be thinking about you.

    Gary, that’s the funniest story since Beth’s. What an interesting time you must have been having, internally at least, before the penny dropped. Merry Christmas in the Antipodes, and I hope we see each other in SEA sometime this year. Thanks for all the help in the year past.

    Merry Christmas to you, too, Robb and to all in Nashville. I actually haven’t read David Foster Wallace — been thinking about it but not doing it. I certainly would blog about him if I’d read him, though. Tell you what — I’ll blog about David Mitchell if you’ve read him.

    Laren, I think Vegas is a very Christmas place to go. At least there’s always room at the inn. And I’m told that every year one casino drastically lowers the house edge on all mechanized games, actually sets them in the gambler’s favor but it’s a different casino each year and no one knows which one it is.

    Okay, I made that up.

    Happy Xmas and lots of love to all from Mun and me.

  11. Sylvia Says:

    The kids and their teachers made the signs and either sewed the costumes — such as those of the white-clad young ladies with the red sashes and the ubiquitous Santa hats — or assembled them from clothes the kids already owned, as in the alternating red and white outfits of the little girls holding the sign.

    You know, that sounds lovely, until you find out you are one of the mothers who is expected to sew an outfit for her son (my grandmother taught me to darn socks, there my abilities end) and asking whether I happen to have red shirts and special hats and I-don’t-know-what-else that he needs for his costume (hint: we never owned *anything* that they listed for the assemble-your-own costumes). So spare a thought for the working mothers in these pageants (maybe in Bangkok the teachers actually sewed each child’s outfit rather than sending instructions home but forgive me if I look dubious).

    The children are completely and utterly adorable though, I’ll give you that!

    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I’m looking forward to what you come up with next year! 😉

  12. Timothy Hallinan Says:

    I’m sure the mothers pulled their weight. My mother oil-painted a sombrero once for me to wear in a Mexican hat dance, and tragedy followed. I wrote about it, way back at the beginning of this marathon.

    Ah, well, it’s a form of family activity, even if one member does all the activity.

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