Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Merry Little Chinamas!

Christmas without family is never easy, but thankfully December gets so packed with activities that it is hard to find the time to succumb to homesickness. Well, there's always January for that!

This Christmas season has been full of fun parties and great friends. We are very blessed with a wonderful community here at Sias.

We love decorating our front door and window.

Ben made the "Merry Christmas" window lettering and the awesome reindeer and trees.

We even got some gifts from a mysterious "Arctic Santa" in our stockings.

This year we bought a small Christmas tree and put up some lights and tinsel. Streaming Christmas music on Songza and baking cookies and breads non-stop really helped bring the holiday cheer to us and our guests.

Each year, the university throws a Holiday party for the foreign faculty. This year it was held in our President's Mansion/Villa on campus. It was an amazing three-story house complete with a karaoke stage, full bar, movie theatre, and Oval Office (just kidding about the last one...I think).

Every ritzy place in China must come with chandeliers
It was fun getting dressed up and experiencing the more glamorous side of things for a bit.  Ben and I with some others even preformed some China-fied version of classic Christmas songs: Laowei (Foreigner) Got Ran Over By a Tuk-Tuk, Baby It's Cold Inside, and Waka (a local supermarket) In a Chinese Wonderland.

Two photo bombs, but I think only one was intentional
That's one good-looking man, if I do say so myself! 

 The parties did not stop there! To mark the end of a crazy semester, I threw a small soup/Christmas-themed party for my 100 sophomore students. It was crazy but really fun! 

I made a Western-style Creamy Potato and Bacon Soup, and some of my students made a delicious Corn, Oat, and Egg Chinese soup. Both were huge hits.
After that I taught them the true meaning of Christmas by showing them Home Alone. 

Last Saturday, we invited some of our closest Chinese friends for a ornament decorating and cookie eating party. We had a lot of fun admiring and making fun of each other's paintings.

Everybody loves our Oatmeal Cookie Recipe!
Concentrated decorating
Some of the final products
Aren't they so cute?
We also had some lovely Christmas services at the local church and our foreigner meetings. This was definitely one the highlights of the season.

We usually always go out for lunch with our friends after service, and it being freezing cold and Winter Solstice (冬至), we decided to go to hot pot. On Winter Solstice, everyone must eat dumplings in order to prevent their ears from falling off. It's on Wikipedia so it must be true: Dongzhi Festival.

An International Hot Pot Party

Ben and his ear dumplings 

Ben and his special face
Finally, it was Christmas and time for the real parties! Christmas morning was spent with Ben eating delicious Life cereal (only in China do you get excited to eat cold cereal for Christmas) and opening up way too many Christmas presents. I am one spoiled wife. 

Some delicious Christmas Eve American goodness
Brunch with monkey bread, egg scramble, banana bread, and so much more was spent with some of our close teacher friends here. We did a fun gift exchange and scored some sweet gifts.

Love Skyping with the family! 

Now it is beginning to feel like we're bragging, but we had another party to attend in the afternoon. This time we did a Christmas toy exchange with our fellow teachers. We all opened up presents in the forms of bb guns, jump ropes, toy cars, and legos. This was my favorite part about Christmas last year, and it did not disappoint.

Building their Lego airplanes

Never too old for Christmas toys

Christmas Dinner consisted of a feast of ham, salmon, turkey, pies, and more. We stuffed ourselves silly and then went back for seconds (and thirds for Ben). Then we somehow made it upstairs and enjoyed a restful evening and contented sleep.

Massive and delicious hams
Ben stealing the presents
Merry Christmas to all! 

Ben and I hope that your Christmas was also filled with much love, happiness, and joy!

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