In 2010 my parents landed themselves in Shenzhen for Christmas.
Just their presence was the best Christmas present.
On Christmas Day, I was sick.
Between the bed and the commode I was a nomad–wandering from each–day of Christmas.
My apartment was bitterly cold.
My Mom described this as the worst Christmas she’d ever experienced.
Most of China doesn’t celebrate Christmas, so it’s not exactly Christmas friendly.
In 2011 I woke up and exchanged gifts with David. It was nice and relaxing.
We had plans to meet friends for home-cooked meal. Our friends were late, we didn’t eat until almost 10PM. The food was cold and we were so far from our apartment.
This past semester has worn my skin to its core brittle bone.
I teach 22 classes a week, which is a lot considering last semester I had fifteen.
I also adopted a cat, Jenny, who needed medical attention.
I gave up. I wanted to be a scrooge this Christmas.
& then … I sang some Christmas carols with coworkers for a school performance and it brought me back to Christmas ‘spirit.’
I decided to bring joy to my coworkers and get little gifts. I also made a new friend, Sava.
Sava is from Romania about 85% of the population in Romania is Orthodox. Sava is Orthodox. She attends the Catholic church here in China though. I’ve never attended a Christmas Eve Midnight Mass service, I have always wanted to, so I asked Sava.
She welcomed me with the biggest open arms.
I met her on Christmas Eve at her apartment. She’s lived in China over ten years and is married to a Chinese man. They have a four year old daughter. We had dinner together. It finally felt like home and Christmas. Being around a child, a Christmas tree set up and a heated apartment. We played around and ate and finally it came time for Mass. We all piled into Sava’s VW and picked up another friend, from India. The church glistened on a hill and people flocked to it. This felt incredible to be experiencing, especially being in China.
The church was filled. Many Chinese, both believers and non were in attendance. It was a beautiful service, the music was gorgeous and they ended with ‘O Holy Night.’
Our other friend from Africa also joined us. We all drove home, the baby fell asleep and Sava carried her upstairs, such a sweet Mother. Sava, her daughter and I shared a King bed. I slept so sweet on Christmas Eve. We woke up shared some coffee, breakfast and chats. Her husband has been teaching himself Sanskrit, they have over 5000 books in their library. They are fascinating to talk to. Needless to say, I am so happy I made new friends. I am so thankful for my international friends and colleagues they teach me so much.
I came home to David, whom had found two more cats.
One was discovered by David’s friend in the local dump on Christmas Eve. He is an orphan. David has taken the role of Momma cat. His name is Paul ..
The other cat was found the day before, Kasey.
I was angry, I didn’t think we should be taking more cats.
David reminded me, imagine being alone on the streets, cold, hungry, not sure who you can trust. In China many people will catch cats, fatten them up, only to eat them later.
& so the attachment has grown, I love these cats.
Our Christmas feast was Indian food.