Good news! I'm officially free on Tuesdays now. Tonight was the last time my Tuesday night class met this semester, which is a good feeling. That class had the widest range of English ability I've ever had to teach in one room. Some of the students could carry a normal conversation on the first day, and then there were others that still couldn't even recognize when I called their English name on the last day. I was so inspired by these students that I've already made a powerpoint presentation for the first day of next semester's classes. It informs the students clearly that they will actually be required to learn and recognize their English names. Since this semester's students didn't all seem to comprehend that when I tried to explain it vocally, I thought that maybe they're just visual learners. Anyhoo, class is over now. As a foreign teacher I get to cancel class for two days for Christmas, so I canceled it on Monday (since it actually WAS Christmas) and gave my classes the option of when they wanted the other day to be. My Tuesday class actually wanted to meet one last time today (nerds) so last week I informed my Wed/Fri class that we wouldn't be meeting last Friday. They practically booed me out the door, making me think that they must just really LOVE my class. No, it's just that on Wednesdays my class is their only one. So instead of canceling last Friday I canceled tomorrow morning's class. I said all that to say that I won't have to get up for class in the morning since I canceled it for Christmas. Yay! I can go to sleep tonight and just not get up until Friday morning, since I don't have class on Thursday. Or not. The important thing is that I have the option to do that if I actually needed to.
So yesterday was Christmas. When I woke up it didn't really FEEL like Christmas, but I was well rested and had no real complaints. I looked out the window and was surprised to see that I couldn't really see anything at all. It was super duper foggy. I could barely see past the building next to ours. I was glad to get a phone call from Jennifer around 8:30 and chat with some family for a while. And then Michael called me on Skype for a while. After the others started getting up and around, we all met in Angelyn's apartment for coffee, cinnamon rolls (with homemade icing!), and gifts. We had all collected the gifts from our students and from packages in the mail and set them under a tree in Angelyn's apartment. It was fun to sit down together and all open gifts. I even had a stocking that Santa had left in my apartment the night before. Don't know how it got there. It couldn't be that my key was outside hidden in the fuse box, so I'm just going to assume it was magic or something. I got a few dud gifts like a roll of 1 jiao bills that added up to a whole yuan. Yeah. Just to let you know, a "jiao" is basically a Chinese dime, only they can come in paper bill form. So I basically got ten dimes rolled into a wad and wrapped in Christmas paper. Thanks Santa! I also got two bottles of pepsi, a calendar, a TIME magazine, a little pot shaped like a pig that I can keep pens and pencils in, index cards, and a kitkat bar. The most awesome present that morning was actually from a student in my freshman class. It's a framed picture of some traditional Chinese characters carved in a block of wood. The characters are traditional, so you read them top to bottom, beginning on the right. "Zhi zu chang le" is what it says. I know what each individual character means. "Knowledge foot long happy." Poetic, huh? Apparently when you put them together it basically means "Be happy with whatever you have." That sounds much better, in my opinion. It reminds me a lot of something written by Paul, saying that he had learned to be happy with whatever he had. I've learned a lot about what I need and what is just extra luxury in my time here. I have no doubt that I am one of the most spoiled people on the planet, having the things I have. It's easy enough to go without when the people around you are without the same thing, but what about the stuff we have that we still don't need? TV, excessive clothing, an overflowing pantry, designer socks, gourmet coffee, 90% of the stuff in our closets. We all seem to know that we're blessed to have these things because a lot of the people in the world aren't so blessed. The question is do we know in our hearts that we're blessed to have it and that it's all luxury, or do we just tell ourselves that we know it. The answer comes when we're faced with the same challenge given to the rich young man in Mt chapter 19. Sometimes I'm surprised by what I actually know and what I've just convinced myself I know.
I wasn't planning on getting so philosophical when I started, but I have to go where the typing takes me. I'll finish out my story tomorrow (unless I decide to sleep until Friday) and tell about this year's other Christmas events. Right now it's getting very late and I'm ready to lay someplace soft and warm. Sweet dreams!