The Chinese love Christmas. They love Christmas music, they love Santa Claus, they love Christmas lights, and all the trimmings. If fact, they love it so much, they love it ALL. YEAR. LONG. Santa is not seasonal in this part of the world, he is with us all the time and often when you least expect him. If you love Christmas music or are the type who doesn't take down your lights or tree until St. Patrick's Day, you should move to Beijing, you would be in great company. Mariah Carey belts out "All I Want for Christmas is You" at least every other time I go grocery shopping and nearly every establishment in this country sports some configuration of twinkle lights. That said, they aren't so much into celebrating Christmas at Christmastime per se and definitely all their celebrations are of a secular ilk.
We, on the other hand, love to do Christmasy things this time of year. And, we generally do something every day of the month to keep us feeling festive and to remind ourselves what this season is all about. Sometimes our activities are more Santa-centered than focused on the Savior, but even in the midst of the parties and merrymaking we try to remind the children of the importance of both giving and being gracious. Most importantly we encourage them to remember the wonderful gifts we should be grateful for this time of year and always.
Our first Christmas event of the season was the Annual Tree Lighting and Train Launching at the Hilton Hotel. Caleb's school choir was asked to sing a medley of Christmas songs, so we went to hear him sing, to watch the tree lighting, to see the train, and maybe, to get a glimpse of Santa Claus. We managed to do everything on our list, despite the chaos and crowds and Isaac even shook the big man's hand.
Caleb's choir sang 6 songs. This is not a great picture, but I couldn't get close enough to take a better one.
If you look closely, behind the boys you can see the green train whizzing past.
It was one of 4 trains on the track and the fastest of the lot -
so naturally, their favorite.
Another of the trains. The kids loved watching the trains go round and round even through the haze of a very smoky lobby (the pollution AQI that night was over 400 and I'm sure not much better inside).
All of the evening's sponsors and participants were given recognition somewhere along the train track. Caleb's school was honored with a billboard - coincidentally right in front of where we were standing.
My three and the tree -- a fun night to kick off this year's 25 days of Christmas.