It occurs to me that there could be people I missed in the list.
Don't be upset. There are always people I miss when I create a google group (and always some I include by accident, who probably scratch their heads and mutter - why is he sending this to me)
It's incompetence on my part, nothing more.
So, if I missed you, here is the post - now aimed at the whole wide world.
So, it's time to send out my Christmas greetings from China - my email Christmas greetings, as the cost of sending actual physical cards to everyone on my list would make it cheaper to fly home and deliver them in person.
I'm still having a fine time here in Baiyin though there is no real visible sign of Christmas. It just isn't that important here. I have to work on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but it doesn't matter – we've just arbitrarily decided to move Christmas to December 23rd and celebrate on Sunday instead. One of the other western teachers has decided to throw a party that's intended to last all day. Between us we are cooking a traditional Christmas dinner and looking forward to watching our Chinese friends tackle knives and forks with the same amusement that they watch us tackle chopsticks. I've stuck a load of old TV programs onto a flash drive for us to watch – after all what is Christmas without Morecambe and Wise or the Christmas Day Top Of The Pops?
We scoured the town to find actual flat plates – a task that we almost gave up on because they seemed to be impossible to get. Then, by sheer dumb luck, I found some in one of the supermarkets – the one I only go to because they sell baked beans!
It's shaping up to be a proper Christmas Day (albeit two days early!)
Now for the greetings card bit. It's become something of a personal Christmas tradition to write a verse on the subject so here's this years.
The attached Christmassy picture is, I'm sure you will realise, of Prague not Baiyin but what they hell – Prague is far more Christmassy on its worst ever day than Baiyin will ever be.
I must pick up a festive pen,
it's that time of year again.
I must write about the Christmas Day
that's happening so far away,
because I kind of miss the O-T-T
way that things back there could be.
I never used to be that way;
people always heard me say
"Humbug! Bah! Just call me Scrooge."
My season's joy was hardly huge.
But I find I miss the neon lights,
that make the houses look such frights,
snowmen, polar bears – inflated –
no decoration understated.
I miss checkout girls all dressed as elves
piling baubles on the shelves.
I miss the way the Christmas songs
play end-to-end December-long,
the festive names of Christmas Ales,
carol singers with wassails,
Christmas trees both real and fake,
Yuletide logs and Christmas cake,
the same-old, same-old on the box,
my auntie's gifts of gloves and socks,
college closed down by the weather,
family parties all together,
snowflake silhouettes on panes,
streamers, lanterns, paper-chains,
cards from everyone I know,
holly, robins, mistletoe.
Something here has gone askew,
I shouldn't miss them but I do.
Perhaps it's true – I need to ponder –
that absence makes the heart grow fonder
and when I'm back I'll be once more
the grousing Grinch I was before.
But now, in China, one more year
I'll raise a glass in Christmas cheer;
wish one and all a festive season
and never mind the rhyme or reason.