PHUKET: Christmas has always been a somewhat schizophrenic event for me. Coming from a non-religious family, it was always celebrated as a time for the extended family to get together, share food and catch up on developments over the past year, and had absolutely nothing to do with celebrating the birth of Christ.

Nevertheless, my mother is religious in her yearly purchase of a fresh Christmas tree and a liberal supply of presents for our family’s nephews, nieces, cousins and sundry other relatives.

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