Prezzies and Brunch – Not a bad way to start off our most favorite day of the year. Yes, there’s no denying that Justin and I both love the Christmas season very much, so this really is an important time for us! We miss our families even more during this time of the year, but we have realized that we will never all be together on Christmas since we were born in different hemispheres. Now that we have our own little family, Christmas has begun taking on a new meaning, but we still miss our individual family traditions.
After spending Christmas Eve with Friends, we ended up getting to bed quite late. There were still a few gifts to be wrapped, cookies to be made, and a few other preparations to be done before Christmas Day. When I was younger, I remember my dad waking up early to start the food which we would eat for our Christmas lunch, and now the tables have turned and it is us getting up before Elijah.
Unfortunately, even though the forecast had shown a clear, sunny day, we woke up to the same choking smog that we have been drowning in for the past week. Outside was white, unfortunately not from snow, and visibility was low. If we could have pretended that it was mist, we would have, but our air purifier glows a bright red when it is working overtime, and that is the only color we have seen it show for the last few days. Thankful for heating, air purifiers, and a comfy home, we got up early and prepared to open gifts around the Christmas tree.
We had glüwein warming in the kitchen, and some amazing scented waxes in the burner (a gift from our Texas parents) so the house smelled absolutely incredible!
We moved our soft lounge rug and a few throw cushions to the Christmas tree, and then sat down to open gifts. Elijah, who has been playing with the wrapped gifts under the tree for two days, doesn’t really get into the unwrapping process too much. We helped him open a big bucket of wooden blocks and from that point on, he had no interest in opening, or even looking at, anything else for about 30 minutes. He was happily occupied so we went on and opened our gifts (and even some of his). Towards the end of the gift opening, Elijah started to show more interest in the other gifts. Of course, he loved what his Grams and Gramps sent him from Texas. They know him so well – among other things, they sent books, minions, and a couple of very handsome outfits.
Above right, that was Eli’s face when I tried to get him to look away from his blocks to take a picture, or to open more gifts. hahaha! Not interested at all. He was completely content to just sit and play off to the side.
Another gift that he really loved was this xylophone, which was purchased, along with a bunch of other used toys, from another expat mom in Qingdao. We barely spend any money on toys since most of the families here just use and then sell toys as their kids age. We have been doing this since Elijah was born, and it fits in perfectly with how we like to do things. This is probably one of the reasons why we haven’t spent that much money on Elijah in the last year – we don’t buy anything that isn’t necessary (and most of what people buy for babies is completely unnecessary), and we don’t buy brand new toys.
After all the present-opening was done we cleaned up and prepared for our guests to arrive. We had invited a few people from work, but unfortunately, only one of them could make it. My mother and a new friend also joined us for brunch. In fact, we met this “new friend” for the very first time when she arrived at our door on Christmas morning.
On the Christmas Brunch menu: Banana Muffins, Quiche, French Toast, cream puffs, gingerbread cookies, fresh fruit and veggies, breads with butter and jam, coffee, OJ, and some yummy glüwein.
This is the above-mentioned “new friend”. Her name is Mariska. She is a fellow South African, and now a fellow Qingdao-ren (Qingdao person). Although we are both Saffers, we had never actually met before Christmas and that is because she comes from a different city in South Africa. So how the heck did she end up spending Christmas with us? Well, Mariska found our blog (yup, THIS blog) while she was researching information about life in Qingdao, and she’s been messaging me for the last month or so. Of course, since she has been reading along with all of you, she felt like she already knew us when she arrived at our door. This is one of the amazing things that I love about this life that we live. We basically had a stranger over for Christmas, and from that I’m sure that a wonderful friendship with blossom. What an awesome day to say that we finally met.
Welcome to Qingdao Mariska!
Look what she brought us from South Africa…. Hmmmm, Spur Steak Ranges Seasonings (a little taste of home!)
Kisses for mommy.
This Christmas we managed to find Christmas crackers. How on earth did we find these in China? Lately Justin and I are able to find almost anything and everything of online! This was really exciting for us – even for Justin, since he celebrated Christmas in South Africa in 2010. Christmas crackers are part of Christmas celebrations primarily in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Commonwealth countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. They aren’t seen commonly in the United States. A cracker consists of a cardboard tube wrapped in a brightly decorated twist of paper with a prize in the central chamber, making it resemble an oversized sweet-wrapper. The cracker is pulled by two people, which causes the cracker to split unevenly, with one person holding the centre chamber of the cracker where the prizes are contained. The split is accompanied by a mild bang or snapping sound.
Crackers are typically pulled at the Christmas dinner table or at parties. In one version of the cracker tradition, the person with the larger portion of cracker empties the contents from the tube and keeps them. In another each person will have their own cracker and will keep its contents regardless of whose end they were in. Typically these contents are a coloured paper hat; a small toy, small plastic model or other trinket and a motto, a joke, a riddle or piece of trivia on a small strip of paper. The paper hats, with the appearance of crowns, are usually worn when eating Christmas dinner. The tradition of wearing festive hats is believed to date back to Roman times, and the Saturnalia celebrations, which also involved decorative headgear.
We read silly jokes, told facts, compared our
useless trinkets, and wore paper hats. These are seemingly trivial acts, but wow, they really did remind me of Christmas in South Africa. Above, Justin got a charades card in his Christmas cracker.
We love this picture of us next to the Christmas Tree with Elijah. It is not always easy to get good pictures of him anymore. I know you see lots of pictures, but trust me, it’s not always easy to get them. He’s fast!
We hope that your Christmas was filled with peace, love and joy.