This marks the first Christmas spent not only away from family, but outside of the United States. It’s been a bittersweet experience, but something that I think is part of a natural progression in life.
Christmas in China has, in some ways, stripped the holiday to its essence – a reflection of the best and worst of this season. This week in our Oral English classes, we talked about the Christmas holiday and its history and traditions, and I think our students have reflected this paradox of the holiday season most accurately.
The export of Christmas, unfortunately, has become another opportunity for commercialization. Joel talked about Santa Claus, to which a student remarked, “In America, Santa Claus gives presents. In China, Santa Claus gives flyers.”
In my Western Cultures class, Charlie Brown wailed, “even my own dog has gone commercial for Christmas.”
After another class, one of Joel’s students told him she wanted to give him a Christmas present. She motioned for him to walk with him, and she started to sing “Amazing Grace” in Chinese. She then proceeded to say, “even though you are far away from your family and friends, God is with you and Jesus always loves you.” She thanked Joel for talking about Jesus Christ, as she and three other classmates were Christians.
And in my Western Cultures class, Linus recited Luke 2:8-14.
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.’ Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.’ “