We spent Christmas morning with some monks. Which was unusual for Christmas. 

Painting Buddhas
About 60% of the Lao people are Theravada Buddhist, and most others practice spirit worship with a few small Christian and Muslim enclaves. Many Buddhist males spend at least some time as a monk either for their education, or for a shorter period between when they finish school and when they marry to earn merit for their families. Buddhism in Laos is certainly not free of political influence. After the revolution, Buddhism was restricted by the government for a while, but over time that restriction has lessened. In its place, the Department of Religious Affairs now mandates political indoctrination as part of monastic training, and edits  Buddhist texts used in the country.
Part of the Buddhist tradition is for monks to collect alms--cooked sticky rice, crackers, banana leaf packets, sweets, etc.--from the devoted early in the morning to provide sustenance for the day. On Christmas morning, Philip, Emily, and I got up to see the procession of monks gathering alms in town. (Kyle didn't come, because he has a long standing rule of refusing to get up before the sun for a photographic opportunity.)

After watching the procession for a while, we headed to meet Kyle for breakfast and coffee. We found wi-fi at a coffee shop and placed a few Skype Christmas calls, and spent the rest of Christmas day and the morning of the 26th before our flight peeking into wats and shops, taking a boat trip down the Mekong to explore a nearby village, and visiting a local literacy nonprofit.

And eating. Which is not unusual for Christmas.