Contrary to the views of the advertising department at John Lewis, you don’t need to be on the moon to feel like you’re missing out on Christmas. China is far enough. There is no Christmas advertising ( usually a good indicator ), there is no build up, limited decorations, everyone on Facebook is going home or sat under a laden tree, I had class this morning, I will have an 8 o’clock class on actual Christmas day, and exams next week, so that’s the weekend wiped out as well. On the upside, the smog cleared up after our second red alert.
Without getting too deep, you realise what something is when it’s not there anymore. I’m not a Christmas fanatic, but I still enjoy it. It means getting a holiday, going home, and wondering why there’s so much Bombay mix left over on Boxing Day. It’s the one time of year I could count on being at home, and it’s odd to think that I’m missing something so familiar and regular, and that Christmas carries on whether I’m there or not ( I assume ). Luckily a bit of home ( or two bits ) are coming to visit soon, mother of mine and sister of mine.
Christmas isn’tt entirely non-existent. There’s a tree and some tinsel in the lobby of my apartment building, and I had a chat with the receptionist about how Christmas is like our ( westerners’ ) Chinese New Year and how I’m missing home a bit and will be staying in China ( and I managed not to cry on her ). And I’ve been sent Christmas in a box, including candy canes, chocolate coins, English tea, tinsel, lights, hot chocolate, and some err.. festive boxers. Thanks Eve.
A few of us foreign folk went on a Christmas excursion to IKEA, because nothing says Christmas like having a nap on a shop floor sofa and scoffing one plate of meatballs and one of spaghetti, followed by Swedish Glögg, ( like mulled wine). We’re also doing a secret Santa, there’s talk of Christmas day brunch, and someone has actually drawn up a timetable for the big day: cheese, crackers, wine, olives, pizza, then La Bamba, the international student’s place of choice to drink Tsingtao.
At Church there has been a focus on Christmas ( obviously.. ), so I don’t feel like I’m missing out there. After all, that’s the message. There was a big Christmas production ( the one time of year it’s legal to invite the Chinese to a service, I think ) and that got me more in the mood, and reminded me that the message is true where ever you are, even if there aren’t all the usual trappings of winter markets and ( another ) DHS sale. Not only unto us is a child given, but unto us given also is the interwebnet and the ability to hear Luke preach on the Christmas story, which you can watch here ( Disclaimer: I am sharing this of my own volition and was in no way threatened or pressured into sharing a link ).
While I feel somewhat like that geezer on the moon with no telescope, I’m not going to let China take my Winter Solstice lying down. I’m still reminded of the importance of Jesus, I’m going to see ( some of ) the fam, and will be celebrating with festive beer and pizza. Not what you might call a usual Christmas, but it’s hardly been a usual year.