So today was one of those days where I was regretting not carrying my camera around with me. First of all, this afternoon we went to the annual city-wide Christmas party. Christmas in China is a strange time for me because every year there are more and more decorations and parties and various celebrations, but there is absolutely nothing about it that makes me feel warm and fuzzy on the inside. There are no people calling out "merry Christmas" when you leave a store, there are no warm, good smelling places. None of that. Mostly there are an overabundance of Santa Claus faces hanging in every window, an increasing number of Christmas trees lining the store fronts, and all kinds of tinsel and decorations hanging in places they don't really belong. One of the yearly things that sort of halfway gets on my nerves and halfway makes me laugh are the parties. The city has a Christmas party every year and invites all the foreigners to attend. Of course, there's not much Christmas feeling to it past the decorations, but it's full of kids singing, dancing, and playing traditional Chinese instruments. It also has a smattering of foreigners singing songs because, as is the custom, you can't be invited to a party without being expected to sing a song when you get there. Luckily our school has figured out that we don't particularly enjoy this custom so they don't ask us to sing anymore, but other schools still sometimes force their teachers to perform. So this afternoon was filled with an entertaining hour of singing, dancing, and music. Of course, all the little kids were so cute and adorable and I totally forgot to take my camera. Oh well, there's always next year's party.
The rest of the day wasn't without it's own cute little kids, either. After the Christmas party was over I went to do some (sort of) last minute Christmas shopping. I spent at least an hour browsing around in the Korean market looking for what I needed, but I'm pretty sure I got it all. At one point, two little boys (about 4 years old) kept coming up, poking me, and staring up at me to see what I would do. I'd say hi, they would say it back, and then they'd walk away until about a minute later when they would do it again. They also kept yelling "foreigner!" at me when they weren't poking me, so I would say "No, I'm Chinese!" and they would kind of laugh at me for a second. After three or four times of that, one of them yelled "foreigner!" and the other looked at him and said "No, he's Chinese." Then they actually spent the rest of the time arguing back and forth about whether I was a foreigner or Chinese. I have a hard enough time understanding some little kids who speak English, so I was quite proud of myself for understanding all of this in Chinese, plus I was cracking up at what I heard.
After I got home I waited until the dinner rush was over and went down to Happy Guy's for dinner. If I wait long enough he's usually not too busy and can sit and hang out with me. We were talking about my Chengdu trip and Christmas when his nephew came in. He's 4 and doesn't really like me at all. I guess he thinks he's too good for me or something because he doesn't seem to even know that I exist. Well, Happy Guy kept bringing his over to say hello to me but he wouldn't open his mouth. I eventually started asking him questions in Chinese like "what's your name? how old are you?" and the usual stuff like that. He wouldn't even answer until I hit upon the magic question of "can you speak Chinese?" He answered with a swift and definitive "No!" So then we asked him what language he could speak and he informed us that he "forgot every language so he couldn't speak" to me. I hate it when that happens. It usually happens when I'm talking to a pretty girl, though. Anyhoo, after missing all those precious moments because of my lack of a camera, I feel like I should take my camera out right now and hunt up something worthy of a video or snapshot. Of course, now it's midnight and there's nothing to see out there.
In the morning we'll have our Sunday meeting followed by a big Christmas party dinner (Chinese food only) and a gift exchange game. It should be a lot of fun and I've already set my camera out, so this time I should get some good pictures. Merry Christmas everyone! I'll let you know if I get anything good at the party tomorrow.