This was my first Christmas outside of the US, as well as my first Christmas without a tree or stockings or chocolate crinkles. Even though most people here are Buddhist, all the shops had Christmas decorations and some even had Santas. Arpico, the Sri Lankan version of Walmart of Target, had skinny Sri Lankan Santas wearing Santa masks. They were very creepy.
On Christmas Eve I went down to Colombo to celebrate the holidays with some of the other Fulbrighters. Christmas Eve we tried to make fudge, but maybe because of the humidity, it was more like delicious chocolatey icing. We had peanut butter cookies, and the fudge/icing on top of the cookies was heavenly.
Christmas Day I spent cooking with my friends. I made a rice dish and potato latkes. I made the mistake of grating the potatoes early in the day, trying stay on top of my cooking duties. As the day progressed the potatoes oxidized and by the time I was frying them in oil the grated potatoes were black. They were tasty and I served them with water buffalo curd, sort of like greek yogurt, and mango chutney, instead of the traditional apple sauce and sour cream. We had a huge feast with 10 people and more food than we could eat, a sign of a good Christmas.
The day after Christmas I went with two of the Fulbrighters, Lea and Leah, to Unawatuna, a town on the Southern coast that is set around a bay.
The train to the coast was very full and we spent about an hour and a half standing before there was enough room and we sat down in the aisle. When we got to our hotel it was dark, but we ate a restaurant near the ocean.
The next few days we lounged at the beach, ate beachy touristy foods, and explored the temple in Unawatuna. We were fortunate to see some beautiful sunsets and amazing views. Even without evergreens and snow I found a way to have a nice Christmas.