It wasn’t your usual quiet Christmas tree lighting at the Hyatt Regency on Monday evening. Crowds of expats and their children from the American International School gathered in the lobby to cheer on the Elementary School choir singing carols. But first, the lobby was engulfed in darkness waiting to be brightened up by the traditional lighting of the Christmas tree. Though everyone knew what was to come, the sudden illumination of blue fairy lights draped down a larger-than-life Christmas tree still brought out the oohs and aahs. Surrounded by gifts, and with leaves appearing to be covered in silver dust – the sight was magnificent. And the evening was barely getting started.
T’was carol time next. The fifth graders of the Elementary School choir wore X’mas colours with red scarves and sparkly mistletoe green broaches pinned on their shirts. With messages of love and family, announced by the little ones – parents and teachers stood proudly in the audience and joined in the singing as well. Apart from their adult pianist for accompaniment, what stood out was a three-foot-tall student conductor in a suit, leading the choir in singing every carol. Some personal favourites performed by the little ones were Twelve Days of Christmas and Jingle Bell Rock among several other contemporary numbers that weren’t recognisable.
White wine made the rounds for grown-ups, alongside platters of marshmallows and pizza for the kids, but there was still one surprise left. In a room buzzing with a chatter, just when you thought the celebratory portion of the evening was done – Santa Claus rode out out on a bright yellow Vespa! Shrieks of delight quickly followed as the kids pointed after ‘modern Santa’ looking dapper in a satin red lungi, as he vroomed around on the first floor. All in all, it was a very Christmas-sy beginning for the month of December.