Monday, December 13, 2010

Shèng Dàn Kuài Lè, 聖誕快樂

Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home! ~Charles Dickens

I love these bears! They're from an artist in Montana--one of those things that are every. single. place. you look in any store. I never get tired of them, though, and I covet the rather cheesy nativity that has the bears as all the characters.

Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. Calvin Coolidge

I adore our Christmas tree. I never get tired of looking at it, either from across the room, or up close. Ava said our tree didn't look very Christmas-y because of all the ornaments on it, but I love hanging all the memories that come with each trinket. I love hearing them bicker over an unmarked ornament as to whose it is. I love sharing stories about the ornaments, and hearing them share their own memories. Our trips, our passions, our experiences all hang on our tree.

"And the angel said unto them, "Fear not! For, behold, I bring you tidings of great joy, Which shall be to all people. "For unto you is born this day in the city of David A Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you: Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, Lying in a manger." -St. Luke

I'm crazy about nativities. This one is from Thailand--it's made of celadon. The color and the lack of features make this nativity feel very peaceful.

This is the only one I have from Tanzania--I was crazy not to get a wooden one, and I have no idea why I didn't. I love red and and the traditional Maasai plaid brings back so many wonderful memories.

When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness. ~Bob Hope

I have to include this...I am in love with this votive--a gift from Cameron for my birthday. It's made of porcelein so fine that the light really does glow through. It looks white but next to the celadon the tiny moth picks up some green that you can't see unless it's lit. The shop had at least 8 different styles...I feel a collection coming on.
What can you say to really big poinsettia plants that cost $2 a piece? Um...something like, "OK, I'll take ten." But's that only because that was all I could carry. I'll be back for more!

This is also becoming a traditional Christmas picture--Cameron dutifully studying for exams this week. He'll do fine.

“The spirit of Christmas is annual; the Spirit of Christ is eternal. The spirit of Christmas is sentimental; the Spirit of Christ is supernatural. The spirit of Christmas is a human product; the Spirit of Christ is a divine person. That makes all the difference in the world."

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Christmas is Coming...

Haha...this is actually true here, you know! Back home, I couldn't imagine going out for Christmas dinner. We have never spent Christmas with extended family, so sometimes in the later afternoon we would head to a movie if there was something suitable, but it was always a "from scratch" breakfast and dinner on Christmas Day. Here, there is no Christmas. Despite the decorations and nods to expat traditions, December 25th is a typical work day. For the last two years (and this one, too) we have left town for a week on the 26th, so having a fridge full of leftovers is not a good idea.

So, after "from scratch" breakfast, presents, and lolling around the house we'll head off for the 2nd annual (if the kids have anything to say about it) Christmas dinner at Tairo Teppanyaki. No English, so once we have a secretary make the reservation, we're on our own. Last year, we lucked out and sat next to someone who spoke English so we got the low-down on how it all works. Far from the orderly Benihana atmosphere, eating here is more like a sport. First of all, socializing in groups is very big in China, so we'll be sharing a grill with a LOT of other people squeezed in together. It's all you can eat so you just start pointing at the picture menu and they'll start bringing it--each item on individual plates. Soon, plates are balanced precariously all around the edge of the grill waiting to be cooked. If someone decides they want theirs quicker, they just start scolding (at least it sounds like scolding) the cook to do theirs first or faster. Forget about getting food for everyone in your own party at the same time--that is NOT how China rolls. It's noisy and a bit raucous and a whole lot of good food and fun!

I guess traditions are whatever you do...wherever you are!