Christmas in Taiwan is mainly a Jesus free event, so I have to make an earnest cultivation to keep the Christmas spirit in our own way. So surreal walking around shopping malls, or New Taipei County, with so much money spent on Christmas decorations, and yet no one here really knows the Nativity story. Its easy to be like Charlie Brown. We had decorated our Christmas tree in early November, which no American ever does back home (wait at least for Thanksgiving to end), but here no problem..
I used my teaching as an opportunity to cultivate some Christmas cheer. In my ESL classes I taught the classic Charlie Brown cartoon and in my Social Studies we learned some geography with Christmas Around the world.
Christmas is associated with the winter solstice, and in Taiwan it is tradition to eat sticky rice dumplings in red bean soup, which my school served at lunch. Yilan City got into the season with displaying an interesting tree made from recycled plastic water bottles near the car parking across from the train station.
At my daughter's school her principal became a candy throwing Santa on roller blades. How fun! Even my school gave us teachers our own Yule Log cake and coffee. Christmas is certainly becoming more of a modern tradition in Taiwan, even compared with 5 years ago. I just hope Taiwanese don't start getting the same Holiday Blues associated with this winter season back home, maybe its too sunny here for that.
It just wouldn't be a commercial Christmas without Star Wars, right? We just had to see Rogue One on opening night, I enjoyed it more than she did, I felt like eight years old again.
We met some coworkers and friends at Balagov's for a Ukrainian Christmas Eve lunch. It's our splurge in an otherwise thrifty Christmas.
Christmas day wasn't very magical for my daughter. Her gifts from grandpa and uncle hadn't arrived, and I didn't get her anything, having saved for our upcoming CNY trip. The morning started out decent with a sunny scooter ride to the nearby rock climbing wall with her classmates.
But her fun was short lived. With all the mats under us, she and I started wrestling as we do, and I might of accidentally given her a Christmas (mini ) concussion. She's getting too big for me to control her falls and thinking the mats were enough, I flipped her over too hard. She was unresponsive (but conscious) for a long, strange, minute, it was scary. Her friends were around snapping photos, so it was a very public, shitty Christmas morning.
Better to be safe than sorry, especially with Taiwan's affordable health care system, so she rested in the ER until the doctor OKed us to go home. More mother guilt through the roof, I ruined Christmas. She still hasn't let me forget about it.
To make it up to her we went to the local swimming hole, a cold springs, for a wee refreshing Christmas dip. Eventually her gift from Grandpa arrived, no thanks to customs.
As for the New Years weekend, we stayed home, Incredibly mellow, sunny, spring like NY weekend. We accidentally spent the last dinner of 2016 at the Australian Bistro for an unplanned steak, as traffic around Luna plaza forced us down that street and we were hungry and there was the rare parking spot right there. I relished the serendipitous surprise, as I didn't plan anything special to toast the passing year.
She crashed at 10pm and I stayed awake watching documentaries on the Cambodian Genocide as fireworks went off, Luna Plaza's at my front windows and the sports park at my back kitchen windows. It was like a war zone. I tried to wake up my kid to watch them, but she was out cold. I did tons of yoga videos all though the weekend having joined a free 2 week membership at Yogaglo, while my daughter flew her Christmas drone around my head. I also caught up on some much needed Mandarin lessons from my daughter. Its divine to have time!
We watched the Great Wall with Matt Damon in 3D, it was ok, superficial, awesome effects and costumes, but cheesy (Z loved it)- I'd rather watched Rogue One again. Our last night of the holiday weekend, we watched the Mauri film, "Hunt For The Wilderpeople" with Sam Neil and funny man Rhys Darby. Z couldn't stop talking about it,even up into bedtime, she wrote about it in her diary.
She and I are still chewing on personal intentions for 2017. I think we are leaving it to Chinese New Year, when we have more downtime to just be, and not do. For now its crunch time for both us, the end of the semester exams and grades.