I have been a professional writer for five years.

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Tropical Italian Santa and Distorted Jingle Bells

After the annual Christmas nausea, massive food and wine hang-over also last minute snapy shopping, I finally find the time to sit down and type. I hardly remember what kind of Christmas I’ve had before millenium except for the presents (I even need to double-check on my diary even for the last six!). Doll house when I was six. A plastic oven with velcro-ed carrot when I was eight. A complete edition of Japanese manga I adore when I was twelve. The present stopped when I entered the world of puberty. How dissapointing! I still love beautifully wrapped gifts which led my falling to the trap of my ungrateful brother last year. He beautifully wrapped an instant noodle (“Hey, you told me you like beautifully wrapped things!”). Sigh.

Things doesn’t get better. My parents give up choosing me gift around my teenage drama queen era (“But this cardigan looks old! And I don’t like this shade of pink!Yuck!) and continue giving me shopping voucher or “mentah”(means “raw” in English, but also could be use to tell someone “just give me the cash and I’ll buy whatever I like”).

The older I become, the less I enjoy Christmas. I feel it was greedily corrupted by consumerism. All the ho-ho-ho by fake Santa Claus with Chinese eyes, paid to have his picture taken by parents of innocent little screaming angels. Season Sale. And no beautifully wrapped presents below the tree. Sniff.

As long as I remember I’ve never had a romantic Christmas ala Hollywood. No brother of amnesia fiance who fall in love with me. No brilliantly located mistletoe. No fireplace with crackling wood and huge real life tree. For us, who lived in tropical world with no chance whatsoever of getting a White Christmas, the closest thing we get to the idea of romantic Christmas is to celebrate it with a bunch of family, preferably in decorated restaurant or party with a Michael Bolton Christmas record playing in the background.

Which we precisely did. This year, all four of us, went to Italian restaurant in Sanur area. Massimo was the name, obviously named after the owner. The guest was oddly mixed, what , with screaming kids and honeymoon-ed couple. There was a huge Christmas tree, decorated with green and red ribbons. The white columns covered in similar splash of Christmas spirit. Still, it doesn’t feel like Christmas.

So I gave up. Christmas, these days, just like Valentine’s Day. Overrated season, piously arranged by big companies and advertising industry. After my third glass of red wine and a fettuccine with lamb in pesto sauce, suddenly a distorted keyboard playing ‘Jingle Bells’ break my lamentation. Great. And suddenly to make it even worse, a falsetto female singing “jingle all the way, oh what fun….” Right.

Between my steak and the sixth glass of wine, I started to get used to it. Suddenly, a HOHOHO. A slim Santa Claus entered the room and the kids squealing in delight. What a joy to be young. He did his round, let adoring parents took his picture with the kids on his lap and giving, what else! Beautifully wrrapped presents! My heart starting to thud. I’ve been good this year. Graduated from uni. Made my parents happy.

When he reached our table, he gave away two parcels of biscuits and a beautifully wrapped present for me! I couldn’t help but grinning broadly and asked for having my picture taken with Santa (yes and I just graduated from uni. Like you could resist!). And suddenly I realized that Mr. Santa is Massimo himself! An original tropical Italian Santa. How surreal. Dali’s painting couldn’t be more surreal then that.

I went home, opened my “beautifully wrapped in red paper present” and found a wooden Wright’s airplane. Perhaps it’s a sign that next year, next Christmas, I would be celebrating some place else. Some place other than my 22 years of Christmas in Bali. Anyplace snowy.

It’s not a romantic Christmas but it is Christmas. Even with Italian Santa Claus, distorted jingles and humid tropical weather. Hohoho.

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