merry christmas from nanning!

Thursday, December 25:  I want to wish all my blogging & other friends, and of course my family, a wondrous and happy Christmas day from China!  Although Christmas isn’t officially celebrated here, I do find the Christmas spirit is alive and well.  I have found bits and pieces of Christmas everywhere, but especially in my Chinese students, who are going out of their way to create a special celebration for our entire class tomorrow.

Santa and his tree and elves

Santa and his tree and elves

It is now Christmas night and though I had the day off from work, I have to admit that it’s been a lonely and somewhat depressing day.  I have been telling myself all day that it’s just like any other day, so I shouldn’t let it get me down.  I am alone here in China most of the time, but somehow the loneliness seems more expansive, more all-encompassing on the holiday.  I do have some friends here, but it seems those “friends” don’t consider me enough of a friend to want to spend time with me on a holiday.  Oh well, truth be told, I’m not really drawn to spend a special holiday such as Christmas with them either.

Anyway, nothing can match my Christmas holidays at home in Virginia (weekly photo challenge: joy {christmas day}) or the fabulous Christmas I had in Oman in 2011: a holly jolly christmas in nizwa.

Although I generally like living abroad, it’s always most difficult during the holidays.  I think next year I must make sure to be home for both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Christmas is, of course, the time to be home — in heart as well as body. ~ Garry Moore

Mike has been Skyping with me every day or two, knowing how lonely I feel.  Today, I got a sad email from my dearest friend in the U.S.; she is encountering some tough challenges in her life that have become more acute over the holiday.  These things remind me that I care much more about her, and of course my family, than I do about anybody here.  Not only that, but I’ve gotten some lovely messages from blogger friends and my old friends in Oman, and those have more meaning to me than anything anyone here does or doesn’t do.

Now, the essence, the very spirit of Christmas is that we first make-believe a thing is so, and lo, it presently turns out to be so.  ~  Stephen Leacock

hearts for Christmas?  Hmmm.  I thought that was Valentine's Day

hearts for Christmas? Hmmm. I thought that was Valentine’s Day.

My remaining time here is short.  I’m getting increasingly tired of close-minded people who have only been in China, and believe it’s the be-all and end-all of existence.  When I worked in Oman, I met people who had worked all over the world ~ the same in Korea. Those people seem so much more worldly and open-minded.  But here, people are firmly entrenched in China, and they often can’t see further than their own backyard.

streets of downtown Nanning

streets of downtown Nanning

downtown Nanning

downtown Nanning

I have been expecting a Christmas box from Mike, but sadly it didn’t arrive today.  No matter.  I suppose it will get here eventually.

Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas.  ~ Johnny Carson

I determined that I wouldn’t let my fellow expats get to me, so I took a bus to downtown Nanning, where I walked around on the pedestrian shopping streets.  I sat at Starbucks for a while, sipping on a Toffee Nut Latte and savoring a ham and cheese croissant.  While sitting there, I noticed the Wanda Cinema across the way.  I went in search of a movie, as I’ve always loved watching movies on Christmas night.  There were no English movies showing, but there were two Chinese movies with English subtitles showing.  The one that happened to start at around 3:00, when I happened to be there, was The Taking of Tiger Mountain, a 3D Chinese-Hong Kong epic action film.  I didn’t realize it was 3D until I handed over my ticket and they handed me the special glasses.  I don’t normally like 3D movies, but this one wasn’t bad and was quite entertaining.

The holiday is coming to a close, but Mike and the boys will Skype me soon, on their Christmas morning.  I thank the special people who sent special greetings directly to me, especially Jo, Jayne, Dai, and Sandy.  I also thank Tahira for remembering our special times together in Oman, where we shared many special and irreplaceable memories.

downtown Nanning

downtown Nanning

Santa and gingerbread houses

Santa and gingerbread houses

Love and peace to you all. 🙂

Categories: Asia, Chaoyang Lu, China, Christmas, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Holidays, Nanning | Tags: , , , | 25 Comments

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25 thoughts on “merry christmas from nanning!

  1. I imagine it is lonely there on the holidays. Unfortunately our quests sometimes go that way. I’m glad you got out and did something! for yourself even if not what you expected.

    It’s sunny and warmish here in Atlanta. My daughter and husband are finishing their breakfast (her Dad and I went out earlier). We’re watching Dr. Who reruns and just hanging out.

    Are you doing much reading? A good book is “The Happiness of the Quest” by Chris Guil??? It would assure you that your sentiments here are pretty normal. Unfortunate but normal.

    Christmas hugs from the United States to you in China!! You’re doing well. Take a deep breath and put one foot in front of the other.



  2. Oh, Cathy- I can feel your sadness! I imagine you’re glad the day is over and you can look forward to a bit of fun with your students tomorrow. Because my English family is small I don’t have an especially exciting time at Christmas, and there are no children to make it so. It’s been a pleasant enough day but I’m always glad when the cooking is over and I can become a cabbage and vegetate for a while. Right now James is playing footie on Playstation and me and Mick have the laptops out. It’s an anticlimax sometimes. I’d rather be somewhere travelling 🙂 But then I compare myself with my friend in the Algarve who lost her husband and is home alone. We’re lucky really, aren’t we? Hugs darlin!
    China has been a closed society for a long time so I suppose it’s no wonder that they aren’t more outward looking. As you say, you’re on the home straight now and you have to make the most of the time you have. Here’s wishing you a bright and beautiful 2015, Cathy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks again, Jo, for your kind words. I am really glad Christmas day is over and I can get on with life as normal. Christmas day was the same as any of my other days, it’s just that it felt like it should be different and more festive. I am looking forward to the party with my students.

      I actually don’t miss all the preparations that I’m usually responsible for in Virginia, and though I love my family, I don’t enjoy all the work of Christmas. When I’m abroad I don’t feel like bothering; it’s a nice excuse for me to do nothing! Our Christmas in Virginia sounds much like yours, a lot of cooking and then some major relaxation after getting stuffed on all the food! I’m sorry for your friend who lost her husband. It’s really hard to be alone during the holidays.

      Thanks for your good wishes, and have a happy new year too, Jo. xxx


  3. Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and SANTA??? No, it doesn’t do much for me either! Oh, Cathy, don’t be sad, you are having an ADVENTURE and that’s a more than a lot of people ever have in their lives. Christmas Day is over-hyped anyway, unless you are particularly religious (I’m not) or have small children. I hate it more each year with all the consumerism and advertising and over stimulation. But I know what you mean about not being with family at this time. It can be very lonely. On the other hand sometimes it is better NOT to be with family 😉

    Take care my dear friend, have a drink on me, and I wish you oodles of fun and joy and happiness in 2015. Safe travels and good health xx


    • Thanks for your encouraging words, Jude. I’m over it now; it just feels so strange when you know it’s Christmas day and you expect something special, and so it’s a disappointment when nothing special happens. It’s those darn expectations that foil us every time.

      I do have to keep reminding myself I’m here for the adventure, and not to hang out with a bunch of expats, although the friends I made in Oman are still incredibly special to me. I just don’t see any friends like those materializing here in China. Oh well, come mid-January, I have 6 weeks off to travel, and that will make it all worthwhile. It’s too bad I then have to continue working from March-July. Although it’s not the students who are the problems, but the loneliness. I was really spoiled having Mario as a travel companion in Oman; I certainly don’t have anyone like that here.

      I am relieved to escape all the responsibilities and hard work of Christmas (and the commercialism) back home, so I guess I should focus on that. I’ll be home next year, and then I’ll be wishing I was abroad again!! haha…..

      Merry Christmas to you, Jude, and happy new year! xxx


  4. Hi Kat. You are so near and yet so far away from Satungal. I wish you could have joined us for Christmas. Well we had a little heating on in the sitting room and plenty of wine and drinks. We also had the good cheer but Christmas was nothing like it’s supposed to be. An old friend dropped by and stayed for several hours, drinking and chatting to us. So the day turned out quite well without any Christmas dinner. I can’t stay online long this morning because we won’t have any power until 1 pm to 2 pm. Anyway, Kat. I do hope you’re feeling much more cheerful today.


    • Hi Dai, It’s true, I am so near yet so far. At least we’re on the same side of the globe! It’s too bad I couldn’t have joined you for Christmas. Heat and plenty of wine and drinks and great company; I missed all of that. I’m sorry you didn’t get to have a Christmas dinner, though. I know that must have been disappointing, but it sounds like it turned out well despite that. I am beginning to feel more cheerful, mainly because the holidays are almost over. Tonight my friend Erica and I have a game party planned for New Year’s Eve. I have no idea how many people will show up, but as long as I”m not alone and we’re doing something fun, it will be fine with me. I hope you have a happy new year! I have a three day break over the next days, so I’ll respond then to your other comments. 🙂


  5. Ahh Cathy, I hope the rest of your time in China passes quickly, it doesn’t sound much fun at the best of times. We all look forward to Christmas, but I’m with Jude and Jo and think it s a bit of an anti climax for most people. So much of the real meaning is lost, but it must be even worse to be so far from everyone you love. I’m seeing some of my son and family tomorrow, but won’t see my daughter and family until my next grandchild arrives around January 3rd. Meanwhile I’ve had a chilled time with friends. Take care, keep your chin up, and look towards late January when I think your guys are visiting 🙂


    • Thanks Gilly. It’s not so bad except that the travel is difficult and places are so spread out. It is a much bigger country, after all, than either Korea or Oman. The loneliness, especially over the holidays, is the worst thing about living abroad. Luckily the holidays will be over soon. Mike is to arrive on January 19 to visit for two weeks. We’ll travel in China together. And then my son Alex is to come and travel around with me for nearly 3 more weeks. The travel is what I’m here for, so this will make it all worthwhile.

      I agree with you and Jude that Christmas is a bit of an anti-climax, even when I’m back at home. When I’m at home, I’m so exhausted from the preparations that I’m always happy it’s over. Oh well, tonight is New Year’s Eve, and I’m heading to a friend’s for a game night to welcome in the New Year! Have a wonderful 2015, Gilly. Hugs xxx


  6. Good news, Christmas is over 🙂 I can see how you felt so lonely. How sweet that your students cared enough to honor your Christmas tradition. I’ve been reading a few posts by people who opted out of Christmas entirely; I myself put up a few lights (because I love lights and feel light-deprived in the winter), but no tree (why would I kill a perfectly healthy and thriving tree?). I feel happy that my daughter and her husband are visiting and we had a very long conversation last night about their dreams. That’s what I love – long, deep conversations with people I care about and that was my “Christmas.”
    You must be thrilled to have a 6-week vacation coming up…I’m sure you’ve got some adventurous plans for those 6 weeks.


    • Thank goodness Christmas is over, Annette. I’m glad of it. Right now I’m busy wrapping up the semester and preparing for final exams next week, after which I’ll have a ton of marking to do. Then Mike arrives on January 19 and we’re heading north on the 20th. I have a good 6 weeks’ holiday, so I’m looking forward to my travels and just hoping I am in good health for all of it.

      I’m glad you had a meaningful Christmas with good deep conversations with people you care about. That’s what I would have liked myself. As it was, I was alone, which was no fun.

      Anyway, I hope your new year is getting off to a good start. Hugs xxx


  7. I just can’t imagine what it would be like to be alone in a strange country over the Christmas period. At least you found some jolly decorations, and the movie must have taken your mind off things for a couple of hours. Hope your parcel arrives soon. Christmas is only one day a year, but it definitely does help to be in the right place when it happens. Hugs to you, and Happy New Year. xxx


    • It’s a bit of a struggle during the holidays, living abroad, Sylvia. At least it’s over now, and I have a busy 6 week holiday planned, and then one more semester left in China. I’m trying to make the best of it while I’m here. I finally got my parcel on December 26, but in the end the parcel didn’t make up for the lonely holiday. Oh well, at least I’ll have visitors soon. 🙂 Hugs back to you, and happy new year! xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I have only known you for a short time in the blogpspere Cathy, but I can feel how Christmas was lonely for you. So much hype and expectations is built into this time. I agree with Jude the commercialism kills the true spirit of the season for me too. I also find it VERY hard to feel Christmassy in the humid heat of Queensland. Well Christmas is over and one more week in limbo till 2015 then we can all start polishing off our dreams. Best wishes for 2015 to you and I look forward to travelling along with you.


    • Thanks for your kind comments pommel. I always have a hard time feeling the Christmas spirit in anyplace but home. Even my husband and I traveled to Florida together one year, and that was a horrible Christmas; even though we were together, it just didn’t feel like the holiday in such heat and humidity; I know what you mean about Queensland.

      I’m getting ready to travel around China and to Burma beginning January 20; my husband will join me for 2 weeks, and then my son for 2, then I’ll be on my own in Burma. I’d love you to join me in my travels. Thanks for coming along on the journey. 🙂


      • I suppose we are conditioned to our cultures and traditions as a child. Jack, my partner, loves the hot Christmas and beach culture he was brought up with.
        I look forward to following you around Burma. You must miss your family and be looking forward to seeing them soon.


      • You’re right, pommepal, that we are conditioned to certain expectations regarding the holidays. I’ve never liked a warm Christmas; I expect it should be cold outside and cozy inside.

        I look forward to your coming along on my journey to Burma. I’m really excited about going there. 🙂 My husband arrives Monday and I’m happily anticipating his arrival. My son will arrive February 2. I look forward to seeing both of them.


      • You must miss your family so much.


      • I do. I’m really excited about their respective visits. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. This was a wonderful post with lots of colorful images. I admire your teaching over in China, I used to think I would do this, but once I had a family I could not leave my small town of Delaware, Ohio. I visit places, have been blessed with trips but live in Ohio of all places! My Mom and I had a wonderful time for Christmas talking about her few times she took students to Spain, along with her trips to other European countries. When I was in high school I went to Mexico and Spain with my Spanish club which joined the next town over’s (where my Mom taught) club. We had a grand time.
    I have Filipino friends who enjoy including me in their parties and I also have varied bloggers from far and wide, this would be so nice to live out a dream to teach in another country.
    By the way, my grandkids still love to play board games, (as in your Christmas post) such as Life, Monopoly and Go Fish! One grandson likes chess, another checkers… This post really showed the colors in the streets and signs, along with the ever-prevalent Disney influence! smiles!


    • Thanks so much for your kind comments! It’s funny about teaching abroad; I never even gave a thought to doing such a thing when I was younger, and certainly not when I was raising my kids. I wish I had done it when I was younger instead of now. But I guess it’s better late than never. Sometimes it gets tiresome, but other times it’s really great; there is bad with the good. Maybe some day you could do it, if you felt so inclined. It certainly is an adventure and and an experience you can never forget.

      It’s nice to just enjoy people from other cultures and even to read about foreign lands, so you can get your wanderlust fix many ways. I still love board games, and I’m waiting and waiting to find a group here who enjoys playing too. I love the game Ticket to Ride! It’s so much fun.

      Thanks again for your visit. Happy New Year (belatedly!).


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