Friday, November 30, 2007

So This Is Christmas...

The American-style elves-and-Santa setups are in the malls. The swankier stores are decked out in swags of silk greenery, poinsettias, and lights. Outdoors, the five-story-high fake Christmas trees clash horribly with the tropical foliage, though nobody seems to mind. But there’s still one problem: it’s hot.

I’ve largely refrained from complaining about the weather here, mostly because I actually like it. But now we’re experiencing the unbearable stickiness of our first rainy season. I thought all the rain might mean cooler temperatures, but instead, the heavy clouds hold in the damp heat, pressing it down on anyone who dares to venture outdoors. And our fragile air-conditioning system, flummoxed by the change in season, has responded by producing warm, steamy air.

Plus the bugs are coming out of the woodwork, or wherever they’ve been all year. We barely noticed them before, but now they’re launching daily campaigns to breach our doors and windows - anything to get out of the rain. (Clearly, they’re spoiled; we have nothing like the floods and monsoons elsewhere in the region.)

All this I could have ignored, were it not for the necessity of putting up Christmas decorations. Even after all those Christmasses in Florida (which, admittedly, were drier if not much cooler than this), it’s the first time Christmas has seemed like such an act of will. First was the lugging of decorations down from storage on the “air-conditioned” third floor, which had reached about 100 sticky Fahrenheit degrees. Next was the battle with a very large cockroach while in the storage room searching for electrical converters so as to light up the decorations without shorting the power grid.

Then there was the garland. Determined to make it feel “like Christmas” in our Singapore home, I’d rashly planned to wrap a faux pine garland all the way up the stairs to the third floor. (The woman at the garden store was baffled. “I know it’s on sale, but where will you put 64 feet of this stuff?”) Unfortunately, while a pine garland seemed warm and comforting in New Jersey, I quickly discovered that in Singapore’s temperatures I could barely stand to hold on to such scratchy prickliness – the equivalent of hauling a thick wool sweater around Miami in June. The homey, festive experience I’d hoped for quickly gave way to a sweat-drenched struggle to wrangle my 64 feet of garland into place on the stairwell before passing out from the heat.

Just at the top of the second floor, I ran out - not of garland, but of energy. That was the point at which I gave up and went downstairs to watch ice-skating on TV with an enormous glass of ice water. Gradually, I started to feel just a little cooler. But it still took me a long time to feel in the Christmas spirit.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I feel uncomfortable just reading this post.