It inevitably happens. The holidays roll around and my usually hectic schedule goes haywire and all my good intentions on blogging have suddenly gone out of the window.
I hope your holidays were full of much joy and laughter. Here in Beijing, Christmas felt like an incredibly remote concept – which can be a good thing in the sense that we’re rather far removed from the commercialism of the season, but I couldn’t help but miss the sound of jingle bells and carols at each street corner. I thus took it upon myself to bring Christmas to the capital of communist China. (With some help from friends, naturally)
On a particularly frigid Christmas eve, I found myself biking to a nearby English speaking church for a “candlelight” service. “Candlelight” in the sense that the flames were little pieces of yellow paper cut in the shape of a flame and stuck to the top of a candle. Props to the church for getting around the minor issue of the building’s fire safety code :)
The next morning, it was straight to the kitchen for me. It wasn’t that I needed to spend an entire day slaving away, but rather all I had at my disposal was two stove burners, a toaster oven and a rice cooker. I must say I’m rather proud of the fact that we had a ton of food including three pies, and plenty of left overs (I might have gone overboard just a tad..)
Here’s a home-grown Martha Stewart tip for you all from yours truly: if you want mulled apple cider and cheese cloth or spice sachets are unavailable, simply buy a bunch of tea bags, dump out the contents (saving the tea bag itself), replace with desired spices and staple closed. Then mull your juice or wine with a few slices of citrus fruits as before. Voila. Truly necessity is the mother of invention.
We packed a ton of people in to my modest-sized apartment and had an absolute blast. The highlight was undoubtedly my friends Simon and Eric who played guitar and led us in an awesome round of Christmas Carols (Simon even dressed up as Santa!)
And lo, there was much rejoicing and stealing of presents at the white elephant gift exchange.
For New Year’s, we hit the town. First at an amazing meal of unending meat at Brazilian barbecue and then a masquerade party at an amazing restaurant/lounge/club designed by Philippe Stark. Lan is a cross between Alice in Wonderland meets the Matrix, 100% jaw-dropping. I had gotten it into my head that I would stay up all night and commemorate the dawn of a new decade by watching the sunrise at Tiananmen. After our stop at the 798 Art District, where more celebrations were under way, I really didn’t think I’d make it. I remember having my eyelids pried open by Simon and my halfhearted attempt to swat him. But we finally did it. As a new decade broke, I was standing in the world’s largest public square, taking it all in.
Somehow I imagined it would be completely empty and I could stand in the middle of it and contemplate what 2010 and beyond held in store for me. I would breathe in the frigid northern air and exhale the remainders of 2009. All the things I’d achieved and the things that I hadn’t, and make my peace with the present. I had completely forgotten about the daily flag raising ceremony and that the square would be full of Chinese patriots. It was quite the sight indeed. The flag raising itself was perhaps way too hyped up. From where I stood, it looked more like a limp red cloth that an invisible hand was trying to polish the flag pole with. :) But for the new year, they released hundreds of doves that flocked around the square. Now that was quite a marvel to see.
So here we are, 2010. I go back and forth about the futility of making New Years resolutions, but this year I am full of great expectations. Perhaps it’s being in a totally different environment at the crossroads of life, but it’s given me a great sense of clarity on where I want to be standing the next decade. Or at least, where I think I want things to be heading.
Happy Belated New Year! How were your holidays? Any resolutions to speak of?