Monday, December 05, 2005

Holiday Celebrating and a true taste of Chinese culture

This past Saturday we had a holiday celebration at our friends, the Pontius' home. Everyone brought fabulous appetizers and wine. Amy made these fabulous cheesecake brownies that I have been craving for the past 3 nights! The Pontius' are heading back to the U.S. to celebrate the holidays with their family and wanted to get together with all of us before they took off. We had a fabulous time and listened to festive Christmas music. Here are some snapshots of the evening.

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Angie, Reed, Sadie, Amy (our gracious hostess!), and Me

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Brad and Angie

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Bruce and Reed

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Our hostess and host, Amy and Jeff!

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Rock and Jonny

I have to say the holiday season has been different around here. There is definitely less hustle and bustle and also less pressure to buy the perfect gifts. I haven't even began to shop for Jonny and the kids. I think we will probably have a minimalist Christmas, which is what I always strive for but never achieve. I have to admit I am very jealous that the Pontius' are going back to the U.S. for Christmas. As much as I have been saying I don't care much about where we celebrate the holidays, since we are always away from our family anyway, I sure wish we were with family for this holiday season.

On Sunday we had been invited to lunch at the Hardgrove's house for lunch, which was being made by their ayi, which happens to be our ayi's sister. We were getting ready to go and my ayi with her son and husband showed up at our house. I thought this was a bit strange that the Hardgrove's ayi would invite her sister's family to the Hardgrove's house. I asked our driver what was going on and he said we weren't going to the Hardgrove's for lunch we were going to a countryside village to Da Yang's house for lunch.

We drove about 40 minutes outside of town to Da Yang's house. We thought the gesture to invite us to their house was really nice. We really wanted to see how the locals live in the villages and we definitely got a taste.

When we arrived Da Yang's family greeted us. They lived in a one level house that had cement walls and floors. It had no central heating and the house looked like it needed to be finished. I have never appreciated central heating as I did yesterday.

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Here is the front door. They eat their meals in this dining area.

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Xiao Yang and Angus

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Angus and me at the dining table with all of the scrummy food!

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Our hostess and chef, Da Yang!

After lunch we loaded up the van and Da Yang took us to a Buddhist temple by her village.

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Here are a few monks praying.

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The temple is in renovation, but will be complete by Chinese New Year.

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Rock and Jonny praying to Buddha.

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Here we are with both our ayi's families and our drivers.

We had a nice afternoon and we appreciated the taste of Chinese culture. I was amazed that they lived without central heat, especially in this cold climate. It has been in the mid 40's F, so it isn't just mildly cold, we are close to freezing. I am almost positive that the majority of China DOES NOT use heat in the winter. Our driver who considers himself middle-class, has central heat, but does not use it. He told me "he is not scared of the cold". Unfortunately being in Arizona for the past 10 years has made me afraid of the cold. I am just thankful that we have central heating in our house.

One thing that my wise husband pointed out today was that even though Da Yang and her family live in less than modest conditions, she is the happiest and generous people we have met while in China. It has really given me something to think about.

6 comments:

VeryApeAZ said...

Do they use woodstoves to warm the place? How do they not freeze to death? I've found that those who are less fortunate tend to be the most generous.

BTW--thanks for sharing all of these pictures and stories. I've never really studied Chinese culture before--except to trips to my local Chinese restaurant. It's all very interesting!

Jill said...

Wow,this is better than school trying to learn about other cultures. It's just amazing how much we take for granted. You will be missed this year at Christmas. I will miss your family on Christmas eve and the CD you bring me. I will have to buy myself one this year. These pictures are amazing.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kim... today I was reading your blog again as relaxation .. it is great that you put some pix on that , I have enjoyed seeing them. Though a correction on something, the driver doesn't have central heating. He has an air-conditioner, which doesn't heat well at all in winter, but works in summer. Only some new town houses have central heating, or the single villa has it. To answer Veryapeaz, Chinese people do wear lots of layers like 3,4 sweaters and 3 pants in winter so they don't get cold at home. You're right on how people appreciate their "happiness", the less desire they have, the happier they are. And Kim you can read that in last chapter in the Good Women of China.

Annie said...

Hi Kim... today I was reading your blog again as relaxation .. it is great that you put some pix on that , I have enjoyed seeing them. Though a correction on something, the driver doesn't have central heating. He has an air-conditioner, which doesn't heat well at all in winter, but works in summer. Only some new town houses have central heating, or the single villa has it. To answer Veryapeaz, Chinese people do wear lots of layers like 3,4 sweaters and 3 pants in winter so they don't get cold at home. You're right on how people appreciate their "happiness", the less desire they have, the happier they are. And Kim you can read that in last chapter in the Good Women of China.

jojo* said...

Hi there. I wandered over from Meeganblues blog...totally didn't expect to see anyone I knew. Bruce A. and I went to high school together in Taiwan!!!! Small world. If you see him, tell him hi from Joanna :)

I've enjoyed reading your blog. I'm a mom of two, too. I'm sure it's a very different experience raising kids overseas in a foreign culture. Sorry you can't be home for Christmas.

Marion said...

Wow, it really is cold. It makes Belfast weather pale into insignificance! It's lovely to read about how happily and modestly the chinese people live - especially at this time of year!