It’s Christmas night, and there I sat… in my apartment, by myself, watching The Muppets Christmas Carol. I had worked all day (teaching about Christmas to Chinese kids), went to a grand dinner with a Chinese friend (more on that later), and had a nice long Skype conversation with my family back home (who was all snowed in). It was different than any other “Christmas” I’ve had before, but I think I can get used to it. Different, but awesome.

Some people wish for a White Christmas, but I knew I’d be lucky if I didn’t get a pollution-filled Smoggy Christmas. And it turned out to be a very nice day! No snow, but I wasn’t expecting it.

(Interesting article: Why Christmas is increasingly popular [in China])

So yeah, now the holidays are almost over and I’ll have a new year in a new country… I kind of like it! I didn’t get a day off of work for Christmas, but I do get a day off for New Year’s Day this week. Ironically, I finally found someone to let me use their oven, so it looks like I’ll be baking New Year’s Cookies instead of Christmas cookies this week!

About Christmas dinner: I’ll choose to only write about dinner on the 25th because dinner on the 24th was a waste of money and left me hungry afterwards. One of my Chinese friends had backed out on plans, so I contacted a different friend to see if he was available. He was! I’d have some company, at least, on Christmas night. We went to the amazing restaurant/buffet that is Golden Hans. In China, I think it’d be classified as “western” food, but it’s not like those horribly-tasting, misspelled ones down the street. Golden Hans is the real deal. The best general way to describe it would be a huge Brazilian BBQ and microbrewery with a Germanic Amish feel. I’ll get pictures of it someday, I promise. Remember, we were going on Christmas Day night in China and I had no idea what to expect. We made our way up to the fourth floor of this strip mall and oodles of people were lined up to get in. Good thing I brought a Chinese friend! He was able to put our name down and we waited for a table. The place was packed. They were hauling in new tables and stools for people to sit on. Since there was only 2 of us, I think we got in sooner than expected – it only took about 30 minutes.

After sitting down and paying, the waiters dressed as German yodelers come around with huge skewers of meat and brush them off to your plate. They mark a sheet when they bring it, so you sort of know what you’re eating. Don’t worry, they’ll come around again if you liked it! They gave me honey-basted ham, lamb, beef, and pork. They had sausage. They had chicken heart and ox tongue. I had barbecued chicken and fried banana. Needless to say, this meal was amazing. The buffet left me wanting, but the meat skewers that kept coming around were quite fulfilling.

And to top that, one of my English students and her family was sitting in the table next to me! (In a city of over 10 million people, how does this happen!?) Her father was so excited to meet me and kept toasting me with his soda every few minutes and saying, “Sheng dan kuai le!”, the Chinese equivalent of Merry Christmas. It was wonderful.

A truly memorable Christmastime for me… I wish you all could have been here!

My Christmas presents from afar:
An awesome drawing from my niece (and an awkward magnet from a friend)
A sweet Hannah Montana Puzzle (complete with Miley charm)
LEGOs from my family (exactly what I wanted, actually)