Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Shengdan Kuai-le!

Another Christmas away from home has come and gone. Despite being in China, we still managed to get a (fake) tree, listen to Christmas carols, wear Santa Hats, and bake Christmas cookies. The last was only possible through the ingenuity of my dear husband, who fashioned cookie cutters out of a tin can. That's right, bring on the apocalypse, we can survive.

Some of my favorite gifts this year were:

Battery powered Snickers. Actually, we never figured out what the purpose of the battery was.

A beautiful jade necklace and earring set from the spouse.

A Chinese-landscape calendar from Helen and John.

A Great Wall silk scroll from one of my students.

Warm and colorful socks from another student.

Two bobble-headed rabbits, also from a student. 2011 is the year of the rabbit, so everyone's gearing up for the new year.

Money from Andrew's parents for a noodle-making class in Beijing.

And a Kindle from my family! This is how I look these days to everyone else.

I've read four books in less than four days. Andrew stole it from me this week, for both his sanity and mine.

We were also treated to Christmas cards in the mail from Emma and Sandra. Thank you guys so much!

We spent Christmas Eve with the bosses, and Andrew cooked an extraordinary feast complete with foie gras I've been hoarding for the past six months. I have to say, I really missed France this holiday season. Spending last Christmas in the snow, with the wonderful Christmas market and dinner at my colleague's house really was amazing. It was nice sharing Christmas with Helen and John, but I still missed France, and even more, my family back home. This is definitely the last Christmas we're going to spend abroad.

On Christmas Day we hung around the house, eating leftovers, watching new movies, and playing with the Kindle. Then we went to a dessert party with the other foreign teachers where I received no fewer than three marriage proposals in response to my Bailey's brownies. Andrew's awesome banana bread had everyone melting, too.
James, Morgan, and Greg (isn't her jacket awesome?)
Secret Santa gift exchange with foreign teachers

Andrew's adult class gift exchange

Unfortunately, we only got one day off for Christmas, and then it was back to work. In just two weeks, though, we'll be heading to Harbin for the winter Ice Sculpture Festival.

Speaking of only one day off, let me explain, what Andrew calls, a "Chinese holiday". The word "holiday" in China has a different meaning. Yes, it means a day where you don't work, but no, it doesn't mean a day off. Let him explain. The government decides: "Let Independence Day be a day of rest." "How nice," you say. Only, here's the catch: you work the Saturday before to make up for the missed work! So, you have the day off, but you still work the same amount of time. Likewise with our Christmas holiday. The poor high school students technically have 6-day school weeks, but the school usually decides to let them take their weekend only every two weeks, so they end up studying for 12 days straight before having a two-day break. Sometimes, however, the school changes its mind and postpones the weekend another week, thus the students study 19 days straight before having their two-day weekend (as is the case now. They skipped the Christmas weekend to, instead, have their weekend on New Year's, even though they don't technically celebrate it. Heaven forbid they have an extra day off!). The Chinese have a way to go for workers' rights, but it'll happen someday, I'm sure.


  1. Don't forget about the wine we had! One of Nicole's students' father gave us a Hungarian wine from 1994! For Christmas Eve dinner I dug out the decayed cork and we drank smooth, brown, delicious, 16-year-old wine. Yum.

  2. Christmas (or Thanksgiving, whatever) 2011 at the cousin's in slightly-upstate New York? It could happen!!! What's the next step w/ Columbia?

  3. Aw, I love your cookie cutters! That's adorable! Sounds like you guys had a great Christmas all things considered though we're certainly ready to have you back (at least within calling distance).

    China might kill me. That's awful. Poor students!