Christmas wreaths and glittery Santa Claus wall decorations have popped up in the shops and restaurants around town.
The big grocery stores have been blaring Christmas songs in English for the past month. (And, seeing as I’m usually the only native English speaker in the store, I’ve taken it upon myself to sing along… loudly.)
The local mall is bedecked with Christmas trees and red and green signs advertising holiday sales.
Even my students have been getting in the festive spirit. Or at least the “butter up the teacher for a better grade” spirit. This week, which also happens to be the last week of classes, my students began plying me with presents and handwritten cards.
My favorite is this one wishing me a “woundful holiday.”
And this one… which I’m pretty sure may get me fired.
(And just so you know, the “big candy” he’s referring to was a gift of tea wrapped up to look like a large piece of candy. I swear.)Maybe you wouldn’t think a Christian festival which has evolved into one big celebration of capitalism would go over so well here in China. You know, given the whole communist, lack-of-religious-freedom thing that they have going on here.
But, when you really, truly think about it, China and Christmas have a lot of common.
China has lots shiny, sparkly stuff.
Christmas also has lots of shiny, sparkly stuff. I mean, what’s shinier or sparklier than a Christmas tree? Or twelve…
Santa Claus walks around in public in what appear to be pajamas. So do most of my neighbors!
And that whole North Pole elf workshop thing?
Totally communist.I love all the shiny decorations and cards from my students and singing along to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer at the top of my lungs while buying carrots and laundry detergent.
I also really love being able to enjoy all the festiveness without having to worry about buying presents for everyone. Or sending everyone cards. Or really, you know, doing anything that might stress me out a bit.
But, I still have to admit, I’m a bit bummed. This is my fifth consecutive year celebrating the holidays in Asia. And, well, I kind of wish this year I was celebrating the holiday with my family and friends back home.
Like how I can totally use Christmas as an excuse to buy myself things that I probably wouldn’t buy myself unless I had a good excuse to buy them.
You see, since moving to China, I haven’t really bought much stuff.
Part of this is because I haven’t exactly been sure how long I would stay in China.
And, part of this was because after spending a year traveling through Southeast Asia and living out of my luggage, I learned that I don’t really need a lot of stuff. So I just stopped buying stuff I don’t need. Which I can assure you is totally not like me at all.
After all, I love buying stuff I don’t really need! In fact, buying stuff I don’t really need has been kind of like a lifelong hobby for me.
I have a childhood friend who still makes fun of me for buying a battery-operated fake fish tank when I was twelve years old. (Excuse me for wanting a pet that would never die. I had already outlived one gerbil and countless goldfish. There’s only so much grief one girl can take. Besides, it was on sale.)
I’ve been known to buy shoes in my size simply because they were in my size. (Which, mind you, is not always a common occurrence given the size of my huge man-feet.)
In Japan, I used to buy tons of crap at the 100 yen shop just because it was cute and cheap.
Do you know how much cute, cheap crap I could buy in China?
A lot, I bet. A lot!
And, yet, I’ve somehow resisted. Because, apparently, I’ve become a minimalist against my will.
It’s like I don’t even know myself anymore.
The next thing you know, I’ll become a vegan. And then nobody will want to hang out with me at parties. (Ha, ha. I kid, I kid. But, seriously, I don’t know how I’d behave in public if I could no longer eat cheese. Or bacon.)One thing I’ve resisted buying since moving to China was a bathrobe.
Now, if there’s one thing I love it’s a good bathrobe. I mean, who doesn’t love a good bathrobe? What other article of clothing can you wear without pants and still remain decent in front of your houseguests?
In my previous non-minimalistic life, I owned two bathrobes. Yes, two. You know, just in case one robe was in the wash and unable to be worn, I wouldn’t have to suffer through the injustice of having to wear pants while in the comfort of my own home.
And, while I’ve looked longingly at a few bathrobes since arriving in the Middle Kingdom, I’ve somehow held out.
Until last week, that is. When I used Christmas as an excuse to buy myself this fluffy number.
And, man, am I glad I did.
I assure you this is no ordinary bathrobe. (Not that I have anything against ordinary bathrobes. Even ordinary bathrobes are pretty awesome in my book.)
This is pretty much the softest, coziest robe I’ve ever owned. And, lest you forget, this is coming from a girl who has owned a lot of robes in her day.
I don’t know what it’s made out of because I can’t read the label, but I’m willing to guess that the fabric is some magical blend of cotton, kittens and unicorn dreams.
Yes, it’s just that soft.
Sure, my fuzzy new bathrobe can’t replace the warm fuzzies of being surrounded by family and friends this holiday season.
But, combined with a nice glass of wine, it’s doing a darn good job.