It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year... Right?steemCreated with Sketch.

in #christmas5 years ago (edited)

Christmas-China-17.jpg

"There comes a time when we're on our own.
Sometimes in life such a thing must be,
but such a thing should not be known
this night."

-Trans-Siberian Orchestra "Christmas In the Air"

This one's for all the parents out there.

You know that Christmas Morning feeling, when to be honest you'd rather have slept another hour or three but the kids are so excited that they've got you up at the crack of dawn so they can rip through wrapping paper like the Indominus Rex ripped through the Jurassic Park franchise's ratings and see what their presents are?
You know that feeling when the house looks like a category five hurricane swept through a Christmas-wrap factory a few minutes before slamming into your living room, and you can hang up the notion of getting the kids to put down their new toys long enough to help clean up, because they're too busy running around laughing and playing to even think about pausing the fun for a few minutes?
You know that feeling when it's mid-afternoon on Christmas Day and you're exhausted from cleaning up the aforementioned mess and washing the mountain of Christmas Dinner dishes (mom) or you've driven a screw into about three of your fingers trying to put together the toy you bought for the kids using an instruction manual that's based on non-Euclidean geomtery and when it's finally done your kid gets a colorful vocabulary lesson because only now did you realize it uses D-cell batteries and you bought a pack of C-cell's (dad)?

You know how that feels?

...I don't.
Never have.

My son is two, my daughter, seven. And I have never known what it feels like to spend Christmas morning with them. And I can't think of a way that I will in the foreseeable future. Like so many other Filipino children, my kids live at home with one parent (their mother) while the other (me) works thousands of miles away because the job market there in the Philippines is a catastrophe. Of course, OFW's tell me frequently I should count my blessings. At least as a US citizen, I can land a job that allows me to go back to see them twice a year. Most of them can't even get that luxury.
And most nights of the year I can remember that.
...Most nights.

But not this one.

Christmas is pretty well-known as a lonely time that brings on bouts of homesickness for any expat, and it doesn't help that the country I'm spending it in is China, a country that's known for giving foreigners the cold-shoulder even at the best of times (type the words "lonely China expat Christmas" into Google and you'll pull up 25 pages of articles). It also doesn't help that I'm the only non-Chinese faculty member at any of the three schools I work at, and almost everyone in this country whom I would consider a friend packed up and left it at least three years ago. And it really doesn't help that the country I've spent all those Christmases living in (a country I hate with a blazing, fervent, fiery, vitriolic passion that defies description in English, Mandarin, Tagalog, Russian or any of the other languages I've dabbled in) is the same overbearing brute that is constantly threatening my children's homeland and forever making deeper and deeper incursions into their territory with their bullshit territorial claims over the West Philippine Sea.

And one of these days I'll get around to writing about the real reason I subject myself to the Lovecraftian Horror of daily life here, but that's another article...

Suffice it to say when you add all the headaches of everyday life in China together and throw in the isolation that comes from spending Christmas alone, I can finally understand why suicide rates are higher around the Holidays than any other time of the year. No, I'm not about to off myself. I've got too damned much to do.
...But I can understand why.

Anyway, to those of you, especially back West, who are spending this day with your kids (the way it should be spent), all I can say is this: never take it for granted. Don't waste a moment of it, make every single memory that can be made. Take too many photos, let them get away with not doing their chores just for one day (they'll remember the joy of the day and a single day's not going to destroy their sense of discipline), hug them too many times until they're rolling their eyes because you're embarrassing them in front of their cousins. No matter how aggravating the after-Christmas stress can be, you only get a few Christmases with them before they're grown, and they're too precious to waste.

...Take that from a parent who is watching those few Christmases tick away one-by-one without him.

"He believed in the things that he always thought he knew
and had done all the things that he always wanted to do,
collecting each favor, reflecting his worth.
But now he pondered how he had wandered this Earth...

...
...For we all seem to give our lives away
searching for things that we think we must own,
but on this evening, when the year is leaving,
I think I would be alright
if, on this Christmas night,
I could just find my way...
...home."

-Trans-Siberian Orchestra "Find Our Way Home"

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As a parent of adults, I can affirm that there are far too few Christmases to share with our children.

Thanks!

Still I hope that you have a merry one. Good reflection on this post.

Who dressed Santa Claus in lion statue? Did you feel homesick at Christmas and dress a lion sculpture? Do you live in that big mansion in China?

No, that's nobody's home. That's a temple of some sort (looks like the Lama Temple at Yonghegong in Beijing but I can't be sure). And I didn't dress the lion in a Santa outfit either. That was an image off of the internet that was so hilariously Chinese that I decided to use it as a cover.

I was joking! hahaha

"You know how that feels?

...I don't.
Never have.

My son is two, my daughter, seven. And I have never known what it feels like to spend Christmas morning with them. And I can't think of a way that I will in the foreseeable future. Like so many other Filipino children, my kids live at home with one parent (their mother) while the other (me) works thousands of miles away because the job market there in the Philippines is a catastrophe."

Well, at least you have a wife and kids... I spend my Christmas with my parents as I never settled with any girl. So, no wife, no kids... there's just me, myself and I.

Congratulations on being featured by @iamraincrystal in an entry for the Pay It Forward Contest

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