The good, the bad, and the ugly

Ok, here’s the thing…Either you have a Christmas party and try to do things in a Christmasy way, or you have a random party in December and don’t use the word “Christmas.” But apparently, that’s not the Chinese way. We had a big Christmas party at work and the only thing Christmasy about it, was my activity of baking Christmas sugar cookies and decorating them. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to eat one, but I heard they were good.

The food provided was –I am not kidding, dry raisin bread, sausage, tomato, and tangerine finger sandwiches. John asked if this was a Chinese snack, and we were told “no.” We don’t know where they came up with this idea. We had a staff gift exchange where we were directed to buy something without knowing who, because getting random presents is more important than putting thought into gift-giving. I don’t know what other “games” others did, but John and I went to Burger King so we could feel “Western for even a short time during this so-called “cultural exchange.”

What really got me, is that our supervisors were insisting (every time we questioned something) that “this is the way China does it.” because, you know, they have such a long history of Christmas traditions. And then they tried to tell me, I should learn to celebrate Christmas the way China does it, since I will be living here for a while. I said, “Ok, you come to America on Chinese New Year, and we’ll go out for pizza, because that’s how we celebrate it.” I actually yelled that –at our regional supervisor, because I was armed with the knowledge that I am irreplaceable. I know, Spiderman says, “with great power come great responsibility.” But I suddenly felt that responsibility because I don’t want our students thinking that anything thing they were doing or eating (except the Christmas cookies) had ANYTHING to do with Christmas in the Western world.

Luckily, the girls didn’t want to come. They had the insight to know it would not be Christmassy, and unlike last year, the real Santa wouldn’t be there. In fact, we had an office party with another center yesterday that we didn’t go to either. I have a lot of friends over there, but we just wanted to do our own thing.

Then there’s my nanny. I know this is “first world problems” and it’s not that bad, but she just does things I don’t get. She washed my suede parka in the washing machine. It didn’t get ruined. It didn’t get cleaned either, but it smells so strongly of fabric softener that I want to faint every time I put it on. Also, she –like every other one—just puts things in random places that don’t make sense. And cleaning is not her strong suit. But she will be replaced, and we’ll have to see how number 10 does next month.

It’s not been all that bad, trust me. My landlord came by to drop off presents for us. I got a BEAUTIFUL cashmere shawl. And some fancy chocolates. And, all of the ATMs at the mall have been out of order for a week, and I’ve not been able to get cash, but my lovely co-worker John lent me 500 until I can get to one that works. And my supervisor just texted me to say he would go downtown tomorrow to pick up our passports so I can relax at home with the girls.

This year, I get to have the best Christmas I have had with the girls, in the best apartment I have ever had, with the best Christmas dinner I have ever made, and the warmest, fuzziest pajamas that I won’t take off until I have to go to work. Yeah, I have to work on Christmas day, but I get to have Christmas early, so I don’t mind. And I get 3 days off, with no errands and nothing I have to do. Oh, and even though we were colder than Cleveland yesterday, it will be in the high 50s for the rest of the week. So, rant over, thankfulness begun, and Merry Christmas everyone!

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