Since you missed all the Christmas visuals, let me take you through some pictures of my holiday events at my school.
Christmas in My Classroom
My freshmen get the full 2-part lesson of Christmas: Part 1 is the religious explanation with in-class re-enactment of the story through a short play.
Part 2, a week later, is the traditional symbols lesson (Christmas tree, stocking, reindeer, Santa Claus, etc) which included vocabulary building through my old Christmas cards followed by my infamous symbol Bingo game.
My Christmas Open Houses
After all my lessons on Christmas were completed, it was time for the announcement of my Christmas Open House nights.
It took me 5 days to decorate my home, with balcony and window lights galore, to get ready for this. I emptied 5 boxes of decorations, including 3 themed tabletop Christmas trees: The Guest Christmas Tree (white lights, gold bows and red/gold tree skirt), the Pet Christmas Tree (photos of pets surrounding the tree covered with animal ornaments), and Connie’s Christmas Tree (apple dangles symbolizing teaching and special decorations with sentimental meanings to me).
I have 3 freshmen classes of 50 students each, giving me a total of 150. Every class was divided into Group A (25 students) and Group B (another 25 students). Scheduled visits to my home, 50 minutes for each group, were arranged over a period of 2 weeks. I greeted every group outside of my building and brought them up the elevators to my 9th floor apartment where students enjoyed all my decorations, played with the Christmas toys, took photos and ate loads of candy.
I had a total of 6 open houses this year for my freshmen. I usually buy cheap candy for student events but for Christmas, I spring for the good stuff. I went through 70 pounds of candy, all different varieties, which I bought at the candy stalls near my school.
It’s always fun to watch students pick through the candy baskets during an Open House. They scrutinize each piece to find the ones they like the best and snatch those away.
After every Open House visit by every class, I tell them to empty the baskets because that candy is theirs, gifts from my US friends who send money for them to enjoy a better holiday experience. Pockets are greedily filled to take back to their friends or roommates who are not my students. Chinese young people are very generous in that they share everything with others. Ah, the true spirit of Christmas! Spreading joy and happiness to all.
A First: Homemade Christmas Cards
This is the first year that I have had homemade cards prepared and hand-delivered especially for me by my freshmen. Never in all my years of teaching have I had such creatively designed gifts come my way, with lovely written notes of Christmas greetings and thank yous for my teaching.
As you can imagine, I was quite moved. I have kept all my cards and will save them for display each year. See below and you will understand why I will hold onto these for many years to come.
My Christmas Photo
My biggest expense, as always, is my Christmas photo. I enlist the help of the school’s photographers, a couple who own the copy shop on campus. They come to my overly-decorated Christmas home where we do a photo shoot, I choose the best ones, and via computer, they add the Chinese and English greetings on the pictures themselves before they are copied and laminated.
This year, I had 560 printed which were given to my students, neighbors, friends, faculty members, school leaders, and many in the Luzhou church, including the choir, of which I am a part. How excited everyone was to receive their special photo gift!
My seniors get choices of the photo they like the best to take home. Here they are below. Which is your favorite?
Teacher Open House
My last Christmas visit was for the teachers. All teachers in my building and those in my department were invited, including their kids. I didn’t have a huge turn-out due because many were busy but those who came had a great time.
For the teachers, candy isn’t enough. Coffee, tea, soft drinks, my homemade Christmas cookies and chocolates were served. The spread was beautifully displayed using a table cloth brought from America which belonged to a dear friend of my mom’s. She no longer wanted it so I snatched it up in a hurry. It now is a permanent member of Connie’s Open House decor, and one which makes my Christmas table complete.
For those reading who sent a little extra money my way for my holiday activities, thank you so much!! It was so much fun not to be a stingy Scrooge at Christmastime. Your very thoughtful donations absolutely made that fun possible.
Next post will include more Christmas photos to finish off my 2018 holiday postings.