Merry Christmas! Not much of a celebration at this end, I get the impression it’s a pretty new concept in China. From what I can gather they only started celebrating it about ten years ago and only because it’s what the west do. If the west celebrated Hitler’s birthday China would join in. At our school we spent the 25th December organizing dozens of restless, Santa hat wearing kids as they sang songs and performed ‘plays.’ The highlight was probably a huge game of musical statues, where one of my 5 year-old kids Lemon (yes, Lemon) stole the limelight. He needed to take a leak half way through the song so scampered off to the nearby toilet. When the music stopped however, he was still in the process of getting back to the dance floor and pulling up his trousers. Like the trooper he is, he remained perfectly still, his trousers mid-pull, up around his knees. Everyone burst a lung laughing but Lemon the Zen master stayed motionless. As soon Rocky Robin kicked back in he yanked his kegs up and carried on grooving like nothing had happened. Now firm favourite to win the whole game, he blew it in the semi finals with an ill-advised twitch when the music stopped and a fat girl in a blue jacket won instead. Gutted for him.
After work we had a few friends round and my flatmate put on a feast of barbequeued lamb, pigs in blankets, roast veg and soup. I provided nachos, dip and beer. Lad. We all had work the next morning (same schedule as Christmas day) but we had a pretty late one. My mistake was going to the toilet at about 2am. During this time, the girl who had fallen asleep on our rubbish leather sofa was offered my cosy bed by Aussie Ben, which she gleefully accepted. I then had to try and sleep on the sofa. It is too short for even me to lie flat on, the leather is sticky and scratched and it was a bloody cold night. The girl who slumbered in my bed didn’t even have work the next morning. So after about 12 minutes of shut-eye I staggered back to all-day Christmas shows with infants keyed up on sherbet. Just awesome.
To help the kids understand Christmas I told the story of baby Jesus (with a translator of course). Slightly rusty on the whole affair I took a few liberties. The kids will now go into the world thinking that the King of All Men invented the rainbow and taught Michael Jackson how to moonwalk, but that’s OK by me. Most of China, and certainly Shanghai, doesn’t have time or indeed the need for any religion. They look upon some of their faiths (Confucian, Taoist, Buddhist) as respectable ideals but pretty old-hat. Because of these religions some of the greatest temples and landmarks were created on Chinese soil, but they’re mostly just tourist sites now. Who’s got time for God when there’s so much cash to make? They’re cottoning on to what Christmas is really all about pretty quickly!
I have to say though, that after returning from work I was greeted with an immaculate apartment. My flatmate’s girlfriend and her mate (the bed stealer) had cleaned the place from top to bottom and even made some soup for us. We spent the evening watching the Office (the original and best). The final episode is still the greatest bit of Christmas telly ever made. So, all in all it was a good couple of days. Hope you a good time too!