Stuff I Really Kind of Like About My Life in China: My New Bathrobe

December 23, 2011

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas here in Wuxi.

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.

Plus, it doesn’t help that I keep on reading stuff like this and this.

So, in order to perk myself up a bit, I’ve been trying to focus on the positive this holiday season.

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?

Do you?

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.

What’s your most favorite gift that you’ve ever bought for yourself?

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On December 23, 2011 at 3:56 pm 50+ and on the Run said:

    Hmmm, this is very extravagant and non-minimalist, but it was a TempurPedic mattress–aaaahhhh. Although this year, I am hoping for some big candy!
    50+ and on the Run recently posted..Just Rolling Along

  2. On December 23, 2011 at 11:02 pm MaryAnne said:

    Hehe. Awesome. Shanghai’s lit up a bit for Christmas but it’s hard to distinguish the festive lights from the usual lights. My parents and I were walking to lunch last week and my mom kept pointing out pretty strings of lights and noting how lovely it was that they were decorating, say, their hardware shack or noodle stall for Christmas. 98% had those lights up year round. At least we have a huge number of walls and doors now decorated with shiny paper cut outs of 1960-era, slightly creepy Santas with a “Mreee Christmas” or just “Merry!” or whatever written in lovely glittery cursive beneath.

    Your unicorn dream/kitten blend bath robe looks looooooovely, btw. Remind me to hunt down some pjs in that material.
    MaryAnne recently posted..Top 4 Tips on How to Traumatize Your Parents When They Come to Visit You

    • On December 24, 2011 at 3:39 am Sally said:

      There’s a street in Wuxi where all the trees are decorated with those LED icicle lights. It looks Of course those lights are on the trees all year round. Because why wouldn’t you want icicle lights on your trees year round?
      Definitely by the PJs. This Chinese fleece is unbelievable. I’m almost scared to know what’s in it.

  3. On December 24, 2011 at 12:49 am Ken C. said:

    Ha! ha! If you were having a dyadic Chinese Christmas, you’d have to choose between a woundful holiday, or one filled with Fred’s “big candy.” Hmmm…decisions, decisions…

    That is a wonderfully festive picture in your new Christmas robe, imbibing. As one of your many Interweb fans, I’d like to raise my glass of eggnog [actually, it’s a diet Coke with lime] and wish you a Merry Christmas! Cheers!

    Fa la la la la…la la…la la!

    Holiday greetings from Ken C. in festive southern California.

  4. On December 24, 2011 at 5:08 am Mario Lurig said:

    Favorite gift I’ve ever bought myself? Hmm… This would be an easier question if I was surrounded by my stuff, but alas, I’m not. I guess it’s going to have to be that coat I mentioned in your ‘fingerless gloves’ post… I get compliments on it all of the time and makes me feel like a frackin’ superhero (you know how peter parker gets all super confident once he has his powers? like that, only with less radioactive spider).
    Mario Lurig recently posted..Bad Listener (Day 29)

  5. On December 24, 2011 at 8:23 am Steve said:

    You really do need to find out what that robe is made out of. I’m thinking maybe a slip-cover for the couch?
    Hope your Christmas is as enjoyable as it can be that far from home.
    Steve recently posted..Merry Christmas From More Kids Than Suitcases

    • On December 24, 2011 at 8:59 am Sally said:

      I’m a little bit scared to find out, actually. I mean this IS China. There could be anything in there… polyester, asbestos, puppies… who knows! It’s better to just enjoy and not ask what’s in it. The same thing goes for food.

  6. On December 24, 2011 at 1:59 pm Val said:

    Great robe! I couldn’t live without one for long. I buy myself presents every xmas in lieu of spending a fortune posting crap home that nobody really wants, hehe.

    • On December 25, 2011 at 6:55 am Sally said:

      Val, I actually used to send lots of stuff home when I lived in Japan and had a bigger budget (and a mild addiction to the 100 yen store). This year I’ll probably send some stuff to my nieces & nephews and leave it at that. I’m sure all my family will be relieved to know they won’t be getting a pile of cute, cheap crap from me this year.
      Have a great holiday in Korea!

  7. On December 24, 2011 at 5:31 pm Kim said:

    Wow, China and Christmas really do have a lot in common!! Nice robe and happy holidays. Sometimes nothing can cheer us up like a little retail therapy.
    Kim recently posted..Travel Blogs I’m Following In 2012

  8. On December 24, 2011 at 5:39 pm Kathy said:

    Hilarious Sally! I bet you are loving that robe in the cold apt. Miss you!

  9. On December 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm Michi said:

    I was cracking up so hard at the messages your students left you! Ah, that was great.
    My favorite Christmas present to myself this year was a double pair of sparkly tights and the bottle of pre-made caipirinha from the German shop. Here’s to Christmas caipirinha goggles and warm legs!

  10. On December 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm Stephanie - The Travel Chica said:

    You can totally see how magically fluffy the bathrobe is in that photo. Great purchase!
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Foto of the Week from … Peninsula Valdes – Lines and Contrast

  11. On December 28, 2011 at 5:09 am Barbara - The Dropout Diaries said:

    Oh, so sorry to have bummed you out.
    I’d like to cheer you up by saying that I know where the unicorns live. Except when we were in Pai in northern Thailand, the Unicorn Inn was closed for a week. I don’t know if the unicorn was spreading joy and unicorn dust elsewhere and therefor making the world a better place, or whether the unicorn’s absence from the Unicorn Inn was making life more miserable for all.
    Barbara – The Dropout Diaries recently posted..Mr Wasp, You Shouldn’t Have

    • On December 28, 2011 at 1:07 pm Sally said:

      Please don’t apologize. It was a beautiful post. And when I talked to my dad this weekend I made a point of telling him I loved him. So I thank you for reminding me to do that!
      And what is this Unicorn Inn you speak of? I think I need to go back to Thailand and investigate!

  12. On February 21, 2012 at 5:47 am Ceri said:

    Love it. 😀

    I haven’t bought myself a ‘thing’ in a long long time (how sad, right?). I bought my laptop a few months ago but now it’s acting like shit. Plus I bought my camera and then that got stolen. 😛

    I guess the next best thing I’ll end up buying myself is a good new pair of shoes. I have my eyes on a pair of ‘flapper’ style 1920s shoes on ebay (told you I was obsessed) and I think they’re going to make me very, very happy. 🙂

    On the other hand, I could do with a bathrobe too. It’s freezing here at night so you’ve definitely got the best idea.
    Ceri recently posted..Return to Blogging (with a Vlog)


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