|Late in the day I realise I’ve had enough of ‘just being’ - for a while anyway - and pack up and drive the 150kms to Albury. I receive a wonderful warm welcome from my brother Grant, his wife Pancharya (Da), Thana (age 15), and my niece Sarah (age 4 – going on 19, I’m soon to discover).
Albury is major regional city of around 45,000, situated on the NSW side of the Murray River. Its twin city Wodonga adjoins on the Victorian side, with some rivalry between the two it seems.
In the days leading up to Dec 21st I was bemused to read of dire predictions for “the end of the world and worse” (do tell me, exactly what would be worse??). Apparently there were surprising numbers of people stockpiling food and emergency supplies, others building underground bunkers, and even a school in Michegan USA that shut down early for the rest of the year rather than deal with the headache of it all.
However, the 22nd of December dawned fine and warm, lo and behold, the end of the Mayan calendar has come and gone and we are still here, YAY. I rather enjoyed this report from Peter Harding in Auckland at 5.52am NZ time:
“ Please stand by whilst I check our current situation. I’ve just completed a visual confirmation, and can now confirm that the world is still turning and that the sun has risen, I repeat the sun has risen! From NZ’s end, we had no pole shift, alien invasion, super volcanoes, or asteroid impacts. But as I live alone I can not confirm if the “Rapture” took place, and can only say that if it did, then the bastards left me behind! However I am feeling much more enlightened & possibly on a higher plane but I suspect this is due to the coffee. I will update should our situation change”
The Mayan’s hadn't actually predicted an apocalypse, their calendar will merely restart its next 5125 year cycle from today. But for those confirmed worriers, it’s okay, there are plenty of other things to continue to frazzle yourselves about – global warming, nuclear energy, politicians, and of course the problem of millions of suddenly faded curtains in Queensland should, in their wisdom (??), they ever agree to daylight saving.
I’ve just realised I’m in a spot of bother though as I now have no excuse for not having written Christmas cards this year, “so sorry, end of the world and all that”. Drat!
Anyway, back in the here and now, living in a bicultural household is interesting for me. On Sunday we went to Wat Albury, the local Buddhist temple, where Monk Ajahn Satit conducted the weekly service beginning with a meditation followed by bestowing of respect to the Monks and to Buddha, the Dhamma (Universal Truth) talk, requesting the five precepts, the blessing, and ended with the most exquisite Thai luncheon. Fortunately the service was delivered in English, albeit with a heavy Thai accent.
Later that night our family drove around Albury looking at the best of the houses decorated with Christmas lights. It was lovely to have Satit join us, his childlike enthusiasm infectious as, clad in his orange robes and sandals with digital camera in hand, he jumped in and out of the car excitedly snapping dozens of photos to upload on his website.
Our Christmas Day was pleasant and low-key, spent with family and a few Albury friends. Thai folk do not celebrate Christmas as such. Da did decorate a beaut tree and, as they seem to prefer going to bed late and rising late, we got to enjoy a very civilised present opening time of mid-morning, a rarity in most households with a four year old!. We’re also fortunate to have Tom, my eldest nephew, staying with us for a few days and lovely that my niece Laura and their Mum Gay from Canberra popped in to visit as well.
I hope you’ve all had a wonderful Christmas.