Sunday, November 29, 2009

Christmas In Bali

Christmas time is upon us once more and, as I enter into this festive season, I am filled with a rush of memories and the magic that Christmas has held for me throughout my life. I have written about several special ones in other memoirs and, now, I will add another.

In 1995, I took my four children on an extensive trip through Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Bali, Thailand, and India. My two older children had graduated from high school and they could help me home school the two younger ones. Besides, what better education could they have than to live in other cultures, even for a short period? I had promised to take Suryananda back to her birthplace in Auroville , India and here was the window in our lives that made that possible.

We were in Australia right before Christmas and it was odd to experience a scorching heat wave with all the North Pole, Santa and the reindeer, motifs. However, the spirit of Christmas transcends the settings and permeates the atmosphere. We went shopping for Christmas gifts that could be packed and carried lightly in our luggage. I went off on my own and “What to my wondering eyes did appear?” no not tiny reindeer, but the cutest koala clip on ornaments for a Christmas tree. They spoke so beautifully of an Australian holiday adventure that I had to get them. Then, of course, I needed a tree to put them on. I found a small Christmas tree that just fit the bill. The shopkeeper packaged it up to survive the plane trip to Bali, where we would be spending our actual Christmas. Also, this was to be a surprise for the kids. They were puzzled by the box that I had as a carry-on. They guessed and asked twenty questions but couldn’t get it out of me. Then, one of them hit it on the head and, having a lousy poker face, I gave in.

We stayed at the house, in Ubud, of an Australian man whom we had met in Bali while he was away on business. He was a gem collector who bought his stones in Australia and polished them at his home in Bali. We set up a delightful space for ourselves between two bedrooms and a beautiful covered veranda. Up went the Christmas tree and we decorated it with ribbon bows and the koalas. It was as magnificent to us as any of the nine-foot trees we usually have, from the forest behind our house in Colorado. We wrapped all our tiny gifts to place around it and waited in anticipation for the magical night to arrive.

I really wanted to celebrate with a Christmas service and one was being held at a hotel nearby. I had befriended a driver of a motorcycle who would zip me over there and bring me back. The children wanted to party, and there was plenty of that in Bali.

I cannot celebrate Christmas without Christ. Although my understanding of what that is may not fit into the a strictly Christian concept, I will engage that Light of Love born in the cave of the heart to live according to Christ’s teachings, not just on a surface level, but in the depth of esoteric meaning.

Everyone slept in from the night of revelry and slowly we gathered for a Christmas morning breakfast and gift giving. Each of the treasures was unveiled to our astonishment and delight. Each had been chosen with such attention and care. The best gift of all was the love between us and the trust that had grown in our family though these months and trials on our journey together.

Later, in the afternoon, we attended a Balinese dance performance of the epic story of the Ramayana. I will cherish this memory in my storehouse of magical Christmases.

Prema Rose

No comments: