Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Feliz Navidad
Well, there's been a Christmas tree in the lobby of the Lucky Number Apt. for about a week, white stenciled "Marry Christmass 2002" (sic) sprayed on the entrance windows and I heard Mamacita, Donde Esta Santa Claus as well as other holiday favorites while shopping for groceries at the corner store yesterday. And by the clock here it's been Christmas for about an hour and 7 minutes. So, I guess it's officially Christmas in China.
I worked a regular shift today, got a surprise gift from Jennifer who gave me a gingerbread house that almost made me tear up, and then because they couldn't find any other foreigners to host it, spoke at the SZ Daily English salon to all six Chinese who came to hear me talk about Christmas and read some holiday-related standards.
The rest of Shenzhen was already partying hard, though I took pains to tell my rapt listeners that in the USA, Christmas Eve and Day are not treated like Mardi Gras, New Year's Eve, St. Patrick's Day and Halloween rolled into one.
Striving for a condensed overview I read them The Night Before Christmas, the N.Y. Sun's "Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus" editorial and the account of Christ's birth from the Book of Luke as well as explaining that not everyone in the states observes Christmas, which led to explanations of pagans, Hannukkah and what I could of Ramadan. I skipped Kwanza.
The questions were pretty good - especially the guy who couldn't understand how Santa got in the Christmas mix because there's no mention of him in the Bible. And what's with the stockings? The highpoint, though, was a hand-knitted long blue scarf that a woman I'd only met once before at a salon gave me as a Christmas present. A very sweet gesture and I have to say I look bitchin' in it.
Afterwards, Chicom Party Member Helen D. , her roomate and I joined another staffer as well as Josette-the-wild-Australian-gal, a guy from Ghana named Barney who was dressed as Santa and swilling straight from a gin bottle and an India Indian named Sameer at MoonDance. It was an eclectic evening, to say the least. Josette and I sang along to Christmas carols being piped outside, while inside a slew of Chinese, some in Halloween masks and many with yellow and blue glow sticks writhed to trance music.
The Chinese MoonDance staff had also gone wild with the white flock spray in trying to create an ambient holiday mood. There were some demented looking snow men, Christmas wishes and what appeared to be a cock and balls painted on windows and door glass.
"I didn't catch that one," said MoonDance owner, Gary as we gazed at the crude phallic depiction. "But I did manage to stop one from painting a skull and crossbones on the door."
And at the behest of Gary's wife who'd bought a costume, I dressed as Santa, complete with a beard, and wandered around the dance floor amid the pumping din and bodies shouting "Ho, ho, ho!" til I was hoarse as I tossed cheap gifts such as sock puppets and plastic hammers and more glow sticks to all the good little Chinese boys and girls. Then I took a break. Santa needed a cigarette and a cold Tsingtao. All in all, a memorable Christmas Eve.
And a Merry Christmas to all of you. Thank you for reading.
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