The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Trip Start Aug 03, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of China  , Guangdong,
Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Christmas time in China. Time to break out the cheesy Santa window cut-outs, fake trees, flashing snowmen, and Santa hat lights that get so hot after only being plugged in for an hour that they melt the plastic hats off and cause them to fall to the ground. There are a few decorations around the city, to our surprise, but they are the cheapest of the cheap. Think WalMart rejects. And those little slappy hands that you would typically see at a sporting event, why does that say Christmas to the Chinese?

We have managed to make it feel like Christmas for us, despite our homesickness for all of the typical celebrations and traditions that we usually take part in back in Bend. Last weekend we even made our favorite Christmas cookie, snowballs, in our tiny toaster oven. There have been plenty of festivities at work with the kids, including a Winter Holiday Show that took place at an elegant hotel in Zhuhai. It was a lot of fun (and work) getting our kids ready to perform in various skits and songs, and Peter was the star of the show in the teacher skit. They did a skit called What's My Job, which entailed the host (Frosty) interviewing 3 guests (Little Red Riding Hood, Easter Bunny, and Goldilocks) who were trying to guess who the Mystery Guest was. Peter played the mystery guest - Santa Clause! The best part came at the end of the skit when he had to strip out of his Santa suit, revealing his summer suit underneath!

School Programs, or any event that includes parents, are soooooo much different here than they are in the states. The audience is terrible. Every time. The Chinese have no concept of how to be a good audience. They talk, they eat, they stand up, and they push past the blocked off areas so that they can take photos and film wherever they please. Cell phones are not silenced. Conversations on cell phones are not hushed. If your kid isn't performing then the attitude is, why should I be quiet? The Chinese parents also feel strongly that their children can't get through an hour and a half performance without food and drinks. Parents were up in the student section hand feeding their children yogurt and holding water bottles up to their mouths like they were marathon runners. It gets better, or worse, depending on how you look at it. Some parents filled plates with cookies and brownies from the dessert buffet that was waiting in the back of the room for the social after the performance and passed those up to their kids! You think that didn't cause a little commotion among a bunch of ancy children under the age of 6? One Chinese student in Peter's class managed to sneak away and came back with a plate that had 4 on it. Luckily, Mr. Hoover was able to take charge in that situation. But as for the rest of them, what do you do? You can't reprimand the parents!!??

Even as we have grown accustomed to living in China, some things still just amaze us. We bought noodles on the street outside the school the other morning for lunch and they cost 1 yuan each! There are 7 yuan to the dollar. We actually bought them at breakfast time because that's what the Chinese eat for breakfast, but we saved them for lunch because we haven't crossed over that far yet. At the large grocery store across town the other day we realized that we had gotten used to the girls stationed at the end of every aisle wearing headsets and microphones so that they can promote whatever food item is hot that day. Not super unusual except that they are all blaringly lout and only 10 feet from each other.

The taxi driving, however, we have really adapted to. If our driver isn't honking at slow people to get out of the way and passing illegally in the other lane to make the green light then we wonder what is wrong with him. A book that both of us have read since we got here summed it up perfectly:
"Noise was even more impressive. Most of it came from car horns, and it is difficult to explain how constant this sound was. I can start by saying: Drivers in China honked a lot...they were always passing each other in a mad rush to get to wherever they were going....They honked at other cars, and they honked at pedestrians. They honked whenever they passed somebody, or whenever they were being passed themselves. They honked when nobody was passing but somebody might be considering it, or when the road was empty and there was nobody to pass but the thought of passing or being passed had just passed through the driver's mind. Just like that, an unthinking reflex: the driver honked. They did it so often that they didn't even feel the contact point beneath their fingers, and the other drivers and pedestrians were so familiar with the sound that they essentially didn't hear it. Nobody reacted to horns anymore; they served no purpose. A honk in China is like the tree falling in the forest - for all intents and purposes it was silent."

So now we are off for our 3 week winter vacation! We can't go back to Oregon, much to our sadness, but we will make up for it with two trips. One inside China and one to Vietnam. Christmas at the beach will have to do! Much love to all and Merry Christmas!!
Slideshow Report as Spam


Kristen Hoover on

Miss you two! Love the stories!:)

Jackie and Dan Vance on

Hi you guys! We love hearing and seeing your adventures! Thanks for keeping in touch. Love the Christmas lights by the way!
Have a happy holiday,
Jackie and Dan

Lindsey on

I love the lights on your apartment. I can picture you making the snowballs, maybe 6 at a time in your small oven. I bet they were good!

alison on

Thank you Melissa and Peter for sharing your adventures on your blog. I eagerly read it everytime. Your writing is really entertaining! Merry Christmas to you both and it was good to see you Melissa at Thanksgiving.

Bob Collette and Ashley on

we miss you guys!!!! cant wait to meet up some time in the future. Hope things are well were loving the blog the pics are great, oooo yeah nice lights. Merry Christmas

Cyndi on

OMG. I was wondering how this was going to play out. Thank you for the heads up. My husband and I are moving to Zhuhai, China in March for 3 years. I love Christmas and being from Rochester, NY, I am going to miss the snow for the holiday along with everything else. It's depressing me already. Do you put a tree up?

jlogerwell on

Oh you guys! I am so glad that you could make the Snowball cookies. They are my favorite too, in fact I am making some this weekend! And Petey, I have never seen a more adorable Santa! Have a restful and well-deserved winter break. Love to you both!

peterandmelissa on

Thanks for all the comments, everybody! No, we don't have a tree. You can get fake ones here but we have yet to see any real fir for sale. Only 4 days away!

Aunt Donna on

Hay you two! Hope you have a Happy Christmas inspite being away from home. We really enjoy your blog, reading about your lives there and all the photos. God bless and Merry Christmas!

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