We love partying with Chinese friends. The brand of parties here are so different. There's no pressure to create a lavish display of gourmet food--potato chips will do. You don't have to study up on current events or pop culture in order to have something intelligent to say to your guests--in fact, just speaking Chinese at all is sure to make an instant good impression. And you certainly don't need to stress about how to entertain your friends--just bust out the games of high school youth group yesteryear and watch the good times roll.
We threw a handful of Christmas parties over the past few weeks. Though the house is still a mess from all the feet tramping through (remember, I'm sans house helper these days!), it was a blast. Our Chinese friends are all pretty curious about the American enigma called "Christmas." Is Christmas Santa's birthday? What do Americans do for Christmas?
So we do our best to give them a taste of true American Christmas.
There's a Christmas tree. (I love this ornament my friend Rachel gave me last year. I feel like it exemplifies the cross-cultural life we're attempting to live.)
There's gifts. (This box of chocolates this friend is opening was indeed something I had been given a few days prior. I feel that re-gifting is also an important part of "true American Christmas" that we're obligated to pass along to our friends here.)
There's singing Christmas carols. (In both Chinese & English! Unfortunately, at one of our parties, after I gave a demonstration of how to sing one of the carols in Chinese, a local friend said to me, "You should not sing in Chinese. Sing in English instead." Talk about an immediate confidence deflater!)
There's reading & listening to the story of the first Christmas from Luke 2.
There's Christmas cookies. (Thank you for noticing--that is indeed a Chinese character written on the cookie I made! But don't be too impressed--I think that might be one of five characters I can actually write.)
There's Christmas goodies. (And Christmas calories but who's counting?)
There's Christmas games. (Yes, I know that "Pin the Star on the Christmas Tree" isn't quite part of a "traditional" or "classic" American Christmas, but we all thought it was fun.)
And if you want to spice up the game Spoons, just try playing Chopsticks instead! Same rules, different utensils.
So don't feel sorry for us for being away from family this Christmas. While we certainly agree that there's no place like home for the holidays, being here has its fair share of fun too.