Connie’s Open Houses
Unless a Christian, Chinese don’t celebrate Christmas nor do they understand the reason of this special day that sweeps the world every December 25th. My students, however, get the full meaning of Christ’s birth and our American traditional customs in my culture lessons. The classroom comes alive with our manger scene re-enactment, traditional symbols’ lesson and our Christmas bingo game.
But what is truly meaningful is to visit my apartment, fully decorated from top to bottom, to see all the decorations and taste cut-out Christmas sugar cookies for the first time.
At present, students have been visiting my home for the past 3 weeks in small groups and will be doing so up to December 29. My Chinese colleagues in the English Department had their own party in my home last weekend to celebrate our special Christian day.
Today being Saturday, not to mention Christmas Day, the neighborhood kids are coming over for their usual afternoon play date in the foreigner’s apartment. We will be enjoying cookies and draw Christmas pictures to decorate my empty wall spaces.
Christmas Eve: The Annual College Christmas Party
Last year, I reported about the college Christmas party, led and organized by our English Language Association in conjunction with the Student Union. If you care to read back over that blog, you’ll find it was a wild affair overrun by the neighborhood kids. They were everywhere, running hither and yon, weaving among the college crowds and wanting to be included.
The greatest glitch of the night was when the ruffians attacked Santa once he appeared with his gigantic basket of candy. Suckers, chocolates and butterscotches went flying in all directions with children snatching, grabbing, pushing, shoving and screaming to get their hands on the goodies.
It was not a pretty sight.
The decorations last year were also rather dismal, which made for a rather dull-looking indoor set-up.
Despite that, we had a big crowd and those who came enjoyed playing games for prizes. The evening wasn’t a disappointment but it just wasn’t exactly what everyone had expected or hoped for.
This year? A completely different story.
Students Going All Out for Christmas Eve 2010
By Friday evening, after teaching all morning and finishing up another open house in the afternoon, it was time for me to gain a 3rd wind for our college party, held from 7:30 to 10 p.m. Christmas Eve.
I must say, I was fairly wiped after all my own holiday gatherings during the week. I wasn’t looking forward to another incident from last year with unruly little ones racing around and knocking people over. But my role in this affair was very limited. I was to do what I was told, including draw for prizes, looking merry and chipper for student photo ops and participating in active party games.
This show all belonged to the student organizers and I was happy not to take responsibility for it.
But whereas last year the party definitely lacked the “Wow” factor, this year was a 100 percent turn-around.
Our Campus Christmas Party
What a grand time we had!
The stage decorations were wonderful with a huge backdrop in Chinese and English, saying “Merry Christmas!” The students had decorated this with foil cut-out holiday designs. We also had 4 Christmas trees and lights draped above us in the covered sports’ building.
Last year’s entertainment was merely games but this year, the organizers invited different student clubs to perform for us. We had a magic act, enjoyed the dance club perform their sexy Samba routine, and were awed by the dangerous feats of our roller-blading team.
Included in the festivities were the children, who received treats from me and our red-clothed college Santa
Unlike last year, where utter chaos reigned, the kids were hustled into an orderly line and came one by one to greet me with, “Merry Christmas!” After saying their English phrase, they received a small bag of candy. Unfortunately, we ran out of sweets toward the end so some children didn’t get their goodies. Next year, the organizers will have to prepare for more kids showing up.
The children were absolute angels, gazing upward with wide eyes and grateful hearts to receive their Santa gifts. Many “Xie-xie!” (thank you’s) in Chinese followed as they left the line.
We only had one ornery pill, a sour little boy on rollerblades whose mother dragged him (kicking and screaming) to the front of the line. Once there, he snarled and refused to say anything, just shouting in Chinese, “Don’t want! Don’t want!”
His smiling mother, having a tight hold on him, refused to let him go until he had uttered the magic words, “Merry Christmas.”
He never did.
Nor did he want the candy, which he threw in a tantrum to the floor after Santa generously handed it to him.
His poor embarrassed mother!
I immediately picked up the candy pouch and pressed it into her hands. The distraught woman certainly deserved sympathy, that’s for sure.
(Bring back any memories, parents of the classic child’s “I don’t like Santa!” nightmarish mall scene?)
The Party Activities
Musical chairs, sack races and a few other Chinese favorites had both college students and little kids in an excited uproar. Everyone was quick to volunteer, especially when prizes for the winners were at hand.
One of the evening’s highlights was a “Send your classmate a gift” tradition which has been going on for years.
On one side of the basketball court, we had volunteers at tables where students could go to send gifts to their friends on Christmas Day. They would bring their wrapped presents to the table where the volunteers would write down all the information needed: Who is sending, who is receiving, cellphone numbers and dorm number of the recipient.
After tagging the gift, it was put in a holding area where Santa Claus (one of the Student Union members dressed as St. Nick) would deliver it the next day.
Last year was a little unorganized. I heard some students didn’t get their gifts delivered as was promised. This year, due to the excellent planning, I’m sure everyone received their special Christmas gifts from their friends.
A Happy 2010 Christmas and Upcoming New Year
I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and hope you enjoy the photos of all the Christmas activities that we’ve had over the past weeks.
Many blessings for your upcoming New Year as well, and also many thanks to those who sent Christmas pencils. The students are receiving those this week as we end the semester. They will be thrilled with their holiday presents, coupled with a Christmas photo of me and Little Flower.
As always, sending you Ping An (Peace) your way, and a very Merry Christmas, from southern China.