Even though I've been here just over two years, I just celebrated my third Christmas in Taiwan. Every year has been a little different, but there are some underlying similarities I can highlight in way of describing my Christmas this year.
- Churches I've been to have almost no build-up before Christmas, apart from decorations. No advent candles, no month (or two) of singing only Christmas songs on Sunday mornings. In fact, I wonder if the only songs they know are Joy to the World and Silent Night which are sung quite liberally (a record breaking 4 separate times in two hours last night)
- Christmas programs are a big outreach event for the church, and also take on the flavor of a church talent show
- Singing, dancing, aboriginal costumes (whether you're aboriginal or not) and at least one person dressed as Santa (last night there were 6) can all be seen in Christmas programs
- Dramas and sermons have almost nothing to do with Christmas
- Drama done by kids or adults that is lip-synched to a cd soundtrack. All the dialogue, songs, and sound effects are on the cd, and the people just act it out and move their lips. I find them really cheesy, but their popularity can't be denied. Actually I saw the same one 3 times this year (lucky me)
- Any and all resident foreigners suddenly become singing celebrities
- Activities last the whole Christmas weekend (this year I attended 3, and skipped a dinner)
- No holiday on December 25 if it isn't a Saturday or Sunday. Actually, I'm writing this from school, I have a break in between classes. At least I can teach my students about Christmas today, and I even got my biggest class of 54 boys singing Silent Night... now that's an accomplishment!
Actually it's been a nice weekend, quiet but good, without too much of the characterstic Christmas loneliness. On Saturday I got a pedicure (Christmas present to myself lol) and then went to physio before going out for a decaf caramel macchiato. If I could have one of those every day my life would lack nothing..sigh... (ok maybe i exaggerate a little). Saturday evening I attempted to make pumpkin soup and then joined my students for the program at the church with the stairs! Our class was the second act and we sang "Angels we have heard on high" and "Joy to the world" (little did I know...). I also met some hilarious little boys (probably around 10 years old) who were angels in the aboved mentioned cd soundtrack drama. I asked them how old they were, and they answered "99" without hesitation. Foolishly I asked what grade they were in, and they all told me they already had master's degrees. Sunday morning I went to church, which included 16 baptisms, communion, sermon, singing and lots of announcements. It lasted a really really long time! In the afternoon my friend took me out for a bit since it was a sunny day and around 25 degrees. I wheeled around for awhile then went home to get ready for the evening program. Got home around 9:30 to get the almond bark for today's classes ready, and go to sleep early. I opened my one and only Christmas present, which was from my Chinese teacher - a clock, which her daughter had noticed my house doesn't have. It's really cute, I just have to figure out where to hang it. Teaching 5 hours today with 3 hours of doing nothing in between (thus the nice long update) and then I'll do physio. Not exactly Christmas-y but that's ok. There's Christmas music and hot Chocolate waiting for me at home.. and maybe even some apple crisp when I get my oven back (it was borrowed, then broken, and now waiting for me to pick it up.