Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Merry Christmas from China

Although missing our family and friends, we had a wonderful time celebrating Christmas in Beijing. The preparatory activity is described below in “Christmas Shopping in Beijing.” Far more important is the meaning behind this wonderful holiday. We attended mass for the 4th Sunday of Advent at the South Cathedral. The South Cathedral has two Sunday masses in English and draws an international congregation. Services are longer than in the US (about 90 minutes) with a blend of traditional music and songs with which we are not familiar. Priests from the US, China and India have presided over masses we’ve attended. The priests often give longer sermons than home, with similar varying degrees of success.

For Christmas day we awoke to see that Santa had also visited China. Anna had followed Max's lead from many years ago and tied a string between her big toe and Rick's to prove Rick was Santa. Despite the string, Santa came! We then took a cab to the South Cathedral and met our friend Deborah Bender for mass. (Deborah has been teaching public health in Chengdu on a Fulbright grant and will spend her last 3 weeks in China in Beijing studying Chinese.) After a beautiful mass we then went to Grandma’s Kitchen in a hutong and met up with our friends Karen and Nathan for a traditional turkey meal and good conversation. While we missed our family and friends back home, it was a joyful celebration with our new friends in Beijing.


Ann said...

Merry Christmas from G.R.!

While our Christmas celebrations lacked the cache of your setting, we had two joyous celebrations. On Christmas eve, we celebrated with David, Mary Beth, the newly engaged Michael, Patrick and Lynn, the now-showing Kathleen, and the proud papa, Brian. As you would expect, we had a wondrous meal, fantastic conversations, and a delightful evening sharing one another's company.

After that celebration, we trekked back to GR for Midnight Mass and the concert that preceded it. The concert was nice. The Bishop was in rare form. We returned home at about 2 a.m.

Christmas Day brought a mere 30 more Byrne relatives to our house for another celebration in the late afternoon. The young children were full of excitement and clamoring to tell us what Santa had brought to them. The older children came without their ipods, but considerable texting was observed! Nonetheless, they seemed to enjoy catching up with one another F2F as they say.

The weather here has been remarkable, to say the least. In the two weeks before Christmas, we had snowstorm after snowstorm with about 4 feet total accumulation. A few buildings collapsed because of the weight of the snow on their roofs.

On the day after Christmas we were treated to temps in the 50s and rain. Lots of rain - almost 2 inches. The rivers rose quickly and flooded. Many streets were flooded because snowbanks covered the storm drains. Lots of basements had water in them.

A lot of the snow melted, but some remained. The cold returned and a light dusting of snow followed. Then the most miraculous thing happened yesterday! We saw a strange orb in the sky!! It brought light and some warmth - at least relative to the air temps! The brief appearance of the sun brought squeals of delight from the mouths of old and young. It was the first time in weeks we had seen it! Today we expect 3 to 5 more inches of snow!

Once again, I draw your attention to the fact that we have NOT heard from Anna or Elizabeth! I am more convinced than ever that they are in the witness protection program. I intend to ask a friend with the fbi to confirm whether it's true. The Elizabeth and Anna I know would be delighted to share their Christmas experience in China, their thoughts on the Vegan restaurant, and tons of other thoughts in stream of consciousness format. Free ELIZABETH and ANNA!! Let them speak! We want to hear from them!! NO MORE EXCUSES!!!

Love to all and fondest wishes for an interesting 2009!

Cara Swan Burke said...

Happy new Year and Epiphany too! Thank you for sharing your adventures, they all sound amazing! Take care.

Carol said...

As a retired BC professor (History, 1979-2002), I read about your adventures in China in the Chronicle. I was at Nankai University in Tianjin in 1987-88 as a Fulbright scholar, teaching U.S. American HIstory. We had a wonderful time. It's very interesting to see the changes in China in the last 20 years. Thanks for sharing.

Carol Petillo