Monday, December 31, 2012

Merry Christmas from Another Planet

Christmas has come and gone in a subtropical frenzy of activity.  China does not officially recognize Christmas as a holiday, although the merchants wish that they would.  You see some Christmas decorations around shopping centers and department stores like Wal Mart sell some Christmas items.  It’s observed more like St Patrick’s Day or Valentine’s Day.

Saxophone Santa is a major figure of Chinese Christmas

Some families have a tree and give some gifts.  They may go out to dinner.  However, our International Kindergarten made it a big deal, and so did all the other schools in our Education Group.
Shengdan is Mandarin for Christmas.  Shengdan kuaile is Merry Christmas.  Shengdan laoren is Santa Claus,  literally “Christmas Old Person”.  Once again, I had the honor to be Christmas Old Person for the kindergarten Christmas show.  I also got to make an appearance at another school of ours for their afternoon Christmas party.  We were blessed with temperatures in the 80’s that afternoon which is fine if you don’t have to wear a Christmas Old Person beard and costume and mingle with rug rats in the sun for 90 minutes.  Christmas Old Person had a sweat soaked suit and a very itchy face at the end of that gig.

Christmas Old Person and Ms. C.O.P. get down with it!

The next day was much cooler, and it was time for our big show.  It was a multi cultural treat featuring a Russian Frost the Snowman, a lovely Russian emcee and her Chinese translator in fetching Santa babe outfits.  There was a Grinch who kidnapped Christmas Old Person, which is actually some kind of Russian tradition, perhaps inspired by the KGB.  We had the kids perform such wonderful songs as “10Little Santas” (HOHOHO!)  and “We are Santa’s Elves”, a composition of my own that I am quite proud of.  It’s sung to the tune of “A Hunting We Will Go”:

We are Santa's Elves©

"We are Santa’s Elves
We are Santa’s Elves
Tra la la la la la
We are Santa’s Elves."

It’s soon to be a Christmas classic, I think.
The grand finale was the Reindeer Pokey (You put two hooves in, You put two hooves out.....)
Our sound system sucked, but the translator’s microphone was OK, so the audience got the message OK.  Most of what the foreign cast said would have been unintelligible anyway:
Christmas Old Person:  Blah mip --- sssh.
Translator:  Shengdan kuaile!!!!!

This Grande Event took a lot of effort and frenzy, not unlike the Holiday Season at home, except gift giving on our parts was kept pretty minimal.  I cooked a big Italian meal for some expat friends with ingredients scrounged from lots of different locations around Guangdong Province, Zhanjiang and Hong Kong.
Our local produce is wonderful and I procured eggplant and Roma tomatoes.  I have fresh basil growing on my balcony and I managed to get mozzarella and a wedge of Parmesan cheese.  We had fettuccine Alfredo made with wide Chinese noodles and local shrimp.  I roasted and peeled red and yellow bell peppers and marinated them in black rice vinegar with garlic and fresh chives.  And I made a yummy marinara sauce from the fresh Romas and made eggplant parmigiana.  As the guests waited for dinner I plied them with crustinis and other treats.
Chinese kitchens tend to be very small and ill equipped and mine is no exception.  I have a two burner gas stove, an electric hot plate, a microwave, a small toaster oven, and enough counter space to accommodate either a cutting board or the hot plate.  I enjoy a challenge at times, and I provided myself with one.   I haven’t had an American Christmas in four years.  This Chinese/Italian thing was a pretty good substitute.
Every year at this time in the US,  there is controversy over Christmas vs "Holidays", but not here.  Some hardcore Commie bloggers have made a little fuss over the consumer thing, but Saxophone Santa seems to be winning out over the joyless ideologues.

1 comment:

  1. Has Brian even taken that Elf suit off since last Christmas?


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