Janna’s Tale

Our first Tinsel Tale is by the Best Selling Author

‘Kilingiri’ Amazon Digital

Janna Gray

Christmas holds magical memories for me – not the snowy varieties with Jack Frost nipping at one’s ears and nose – the Grays are long-term South East Asia expats so sunny Noels are the norm, as they were for my parents who spent twenty of them in Sri Lanka.

                When our sons were young the problem of how Santa would gain access to their stockings had to be overcome as there were no chimneys in the house in Hong Kong.  Leaving the door to the roof garden open one year caused problems when the oldest stayed awake all night fearing an invasion of ‘legal grinniments’ (there’d been a spate of illegal immigrants landing on the beach below the house) but later, when their young friend Alice came to stay in Thailand, a handmade sign ensured Rudolph knew where to drop Santa off.

Initially turkey and all the trimmings were de rigueur but over the last 30 years there’ve been  tweaks and now we do a Swedish – Dutch brunch, an English afternoon tea and dinner with roast beef and Yorkshire pud. Our tree is not a designer number – it is adorned with precious treasures like the boys’ first hand-made decos, ornaments given by friends or bought in the countries we’ve visited or lived.

 Every year there are at least two cribs on display.  My favourite is a replica of the one my father made for my mother sixty years ago. The wooden stable now holds chipped and scuffed figurines, sheep are missing legs and Melchior’s nose was knocked off at some stage. Back in the day, GI Joe and a couple of mini Action Men stood guard; still a small aeroplane perches on the roof, and there’s a selection of toys around the manger … a football, Kermit and a couple of dogs. Bizarre, perhaps, but there’s no way we’ll change this delightful tradition started by our sons who are now adults!

                But Christmas is not just about decorations and food. It is a time for family reunions, for giving and receiving with a happy heart, for sharing, laughter and occasionally tears, for remembering the less fortunate, and for being grateful for the very many blessings in our lives. Each year, before dinner, to remind us that the day is rooted in faith, we all take turns to read from the bible.


No matter where us expats find ourselves, whether in sunshine or snowed under, the day is about love and if we can’t be with the ones we love, we should, as the Eagles once sang … ‘Love the ones you’re with.’

To you all, merry, merry Christmas, love, every blessing and much happiness for 2013.

Janna x

ha ha ha


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