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A Christmas Gift

Once again, time has been flying by, and I just realized it has been three weeks since I even thought about writing a blog.  The holidays are here, and despite living in a place where Christmas isn’t a holiday, and it is hardly recognized by the majority of the country, I have been busy.  Nothing in particular, I guess it is just a go-go-go time of year where ever you may be.

I haven’t done any sort of traveling or exploring recently to share about or post pictures of, just been caught up in LIFE.  Work, friends, school, church, trying to keep in touch with family, holiday parties, trying to start working out again for the first time in…. (let’s say way too long).

However, it is the Christmas season and since most of my readers are friends and family who won’t be celebrating Christmas with me, won’t be exchanging gifts by a tree with me, singing Christmas songs and drinking eggnog with me, or ringing in the New Year with me, I figured I might as well write up a Merry Christmas blog.

I will miss my mom's Christmas tree - complete with a cyclist instead of an angel tree topper

Christmas time in Shanghai is strange, granted I have been blessed with friends, co-workers and a church that have helped it feel a little like Christmas with merriment, gift exchanges, classical Christmas hymns and such.  It doesn’t really feel like Christmas, though.  There stores aren’t overwhelmed with Christmas decorations and holiday advertisements.  The hustle and bustle that comes with the season isn’t felt in the air.  There is no mad rush to buy a thousand gifts for everyone you know.  No neighborhoods full of beautiful Christmas lights to drive slowly through and gawk at. No vacation from work (for those of us who work at Chinese/Taiwanese companies). No sales people telling you, “Happy Holidays” in attempts to be PC.  No Christmas cards flooding the mailbox.

However, in (one of the many) big shopping malls by People’s Square which is completely decorated for the holidays, they were playing Joy to the World and Hark the Herald Angels Sing the other day.  I personally feel Christmas music conveying the TRUE reason for the season being pumped out of speakers in a country without freedom of religion is quite cool.

I never got a tree, or decorated a tree.  I will be working all day Christmas Eve and Christmas day.  (But will be attending a service at church on Christmas Eve and dinner with friends on Christmas Day).  I am not buying gifts.  Other than the couple gift exchanges, I’m not planning on opening any presents.  I don’t get to see my family, eat my mom’s delicious food, drink her recent attempts at homemade eggnog, or open stockings in my pajamas. Starbucks doesn’t even have peppermint mochas in China!

Christmas and all the hustle and bustle that goes along with it in the States in wonderful.  I love Christmas time in the States.  However, there is often so much going on, so many other things that get us down at Christmas.  Traffic is awful, you can’t find a parking spot within a mile of the store you need to buy a gift in, stores are crowded, lines are long, money is tight, but you spend more than you plan to anyways.  You don’t get the exact gift you wanted, the biggest box under the tree went to your sister instead of you, someone ruined a surprise, the wrong thing was said at the dinner table and the Christmas is spent in awkward silence…

Christmas gets lost in the States, sometimes we are expecting so much, wanting so much, focusing so much on what we need to buy, what we want to get, how we need to look for the holiday party, what we are going to eat, and then just being disappointed when it is all said and done because it isn’t exactly as you had planned.

This Christmas, I have no expectations.  I plan on working, I hope to have a good time with some friends who are dear to me.  And most of all, I want to remember why this season is important.  Family is important, yes.  I would absolutely love to be with my family for Christmas.  However, more important than that is the birth of Christ.  A couple thousand years ago, Jesus Christ was born to the virgin Mary.  God’s only son came on to earth in human form for one reason and one reason alone –  because of His Love and His desire to save us from our sins.  He didn’t come to earth because he wanted to get a Christmas tree.  He didn’t come to earth for the presents.  He didn’t come to earth for the big dinner, the cookies, eggnog and endless drinks.  He came to earth to save us.  He came to earth to give us the biggest and best present we could ever imagine, salvation.

While you are celebrating this Christmas, I hope you have a fabulous time.  I hope your Christmas meets your expectations, that it is merry, filled with the warmth and comfort of delicious food, drink and those dear to you.  But I also hope, that during this busy season you stop and think about the reason behind the season.  Stop and think about the one gift that will never disappoint you, that will always exceed your expectations and that unlike anything you have here on earth, will last for all eternity.

I started this blog this evening not knowing what I was going to write, I just wrote what is in my heart.  To end, I just want to say once again Merry, Merry Christmas to all of my family and friends! Have a blessed Christmas, from China with love.  Julia


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