Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christmas in Taiwan

The yule tide washed up and over me as I lay on the metaphorical beach, as in the less-than-popular expression "life is a beach and then you die". Christmas day isn't all that christmassy in Taiwan although you can find a range of christmas cards and decorations in many stores and you can find christmas decorations of some sort up on the front of quite a few buildings. But I think the Taiwanese are just saving up their festive cheer for something culturally relevant, by which I mean Chinese New Year, THE celebration of the Chinese calendar. Chinese New Year means two weeks' holiday for us (foreign English teachers) and one week of vacation time for most Taiwanese people apart from those manning 24-hour convenience stores and supermarkets all over the country (poor people). Chinese New Year is a time to shut up shop and go back to your childhood village somewhere in the country where your 90-year-old parents still live and spend the time doing 12 months of catching up.

Anyhow, we have christmas which is oh-so-much more meaningful.

Here we are, christmas eve I think, with wine, chicken, salad, cheese, bread; all the makings of a fine meal. Andrea even lights up a few candles to make special dinners just that: special.

Christmas morning and we get to open our gifts! Here is Andrea wearing her new scarf and earrings and unrelated stocking-socks.

Here I am looking altogether much less dignified than Andrea. A new pair of underwear, a new water bottle, a Scrabble set, a pop-and-catch-the-ball toy, a kitchen dishcloth; everything I could want for christmas. Perhaps what I really need for christmas is a personal grooming consultant to help me lift my game for the sake of photographic posterity.

Christmas dinner with friends. Secret Santa, cheesecake, cookies, wine, turkey, turkey-stuffing, cranberry sauce, a gingerbread house, and so much more. This christmas repast fit the stereotypical christmas feast better than any I had ever had before. Despite determination to guard against overdoing it and eating too much, I overdid it and ate too much. But it was soooo good.
Secret Santa managed to get me something that I had wanted for a long time: a copy of the Planet Earth DVD series! I don't know how Santa knew but he did well. It is a wonderful series and Andrea and I love to sit down and watch an episode and refine our appreciation for the world we live in. Exquisite.

This christmas was a whole lot better than last christmas. Last christmas was just sad while this one actually felt like a celebration of something; turkey perhaps?

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