Hello Everyone, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Shanghai!
Before I even came to China the fact that I would not be home for Christmas was upsetting for me. I had never missed Christmas with my family before and I didn’t like the prospect of it. In the fall months, December and Christmas loomed as an experience I was dreading. I assumed once Christmas was near I would be homesick, I would be depressed and most of all I would want to run home. However as the season drew nearer and decorations appeared in stores I felt none of what I had expected. I was nostalgic yes, and sad to be missing Christmas with my family but honestly it just didn’t feel like Christmas to me. The weather was more like fall in Canada with highs of 15 – 17 degrees some days, and without the Christmas music playing everywhere, the rush to get shopping done and holiday parties to go to I simply didn’t feel any Christmas spirit.
Christmas isn’t an important holiday in China, it is celebrated only in the most commercial sense with decorations in stores but little else. China is not a Christian country, so the birth of Jesus means nothing for them. The big Chinese holiday is in February with the Chinese New Year during which time they will have big family dinners and celebrations more reminiscent of our Christmas (or so I am told, as I have yet to experience this for myself). So for many of them Christmas is just like any other day, which also meant that I had to work that day because its not a holiday here.
I decided to teach Christmas lessons for two weeks, so I taught the kids some Christmas words, songs and stories. We made Christmas cards in class, and we just had fun with it. The teachers and students at my schools proved once again that they are amazing and I am a very lucky girl! On Christmas Eve some teachers from my first school gave me gifts of a scarf, some chocolate and an ornament. The kids were all excited about Christmas and I could tell that the other teachers had really helped to spread the Christmas spirit. On Christmas day I was at my second school. I had a tough morning with overexcited children who were loud and misbehaving but at lunchtime the other English teachers had a Christmas cake for us, and a card for me that they had all signed. After that my afternoon classes were much better, and the students in my last class made my day. Let me start off by saying that this class of grade 3’s are one of my favourite classes, they can always brighten my day with their positive energy and excitement, but for Christmas they had all made me cards, and they learned the song frosty the snowman and sang it for me! It was a great way to end my day, and I was feeling very loved.
Our company Pacican also tried to help us with the Christmas spirit by hosting a Christmas dinner for us on Saturday December 20th. It was a nice sit down dinner at a French restaurant with many Pacican employees there celebrating together. It was my first work Christmas party, and I think it was pretty typical, they had some speeches and awards as well as door prizes. It was a fun time and since basically all my friends work for Pacican as well, we were all together which was great.
My family and friends in Canada also helped me to feel not so far away. I received cards in the mail from family and friends and my parents and aunt both sent me packages for Christmas. Plus with skype I was able to talk to my family a lot. I was able to call and talk with all my aunts and uncles and cousins both on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The other main reason that I survived, and enjoyed Christmas this year was my friends here. As I said in a previous post I came to Shanghai with one of my oldest and best friends Katharina. It was wonderful to have her here with me for Christmas because we are more like family then just friends. We know each others holiday traditions and we tried our best to make it like Christmas at home. We exchanged gifts and we had dinner together on Christmas Eve trying to recreate her Oma’s cooking, (we did alright but Oma’s is better of course!).
We have also made some great new friends here in Shanghai and on Christmas Day we celebrated with them. Some friends hosted a potluck dinner and Christmas party, there were around 20 people there and we all brought different foods. We even some traditional Christmas dishes like chicken (instead of turkey) and potatoes and stuffing, plus many others. It was a great time, everyone was happy and being all together in a small space with loud conversations made it really feel like Christmas for me. A smaller group of my friends decided to do a Secret Santa gift exchange, so Friday night we exchanged gifts while hanging out for a low key night after a busy week.
Overall I had a good Christmas, it wasn’t the same as home but it was fun nonetheless. I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas as well!! And next time I write it will be 2015 so Happy New Year!!