Christmas Day in Beijing rolled up rather out of the blue, or should I say out of the grey. It was an off-white Christmas, if you count particularly low visibility dictated by some vicious PM 2.5s of the scrooge ilk, as a romantic kind of white. And what better to get a sense of Chinese-style festivities than the fact that the Beijing authorities chose this particular day to conduct a whole re-start of the internet, so that our hopes of some sort of contact with loved ones at home were dashed from the word ‘Bethlehem’. As it turned out however, it really was one of the loveliest Christmases I’ve ever had.
Writing this in February is largely (100%) down to my own ineptitude as a blogger, however Christmas is never over in China apparently. The immanence of Easter and the lingering signs in shops bearing Christmas wishes, tells me this much.
Having resigned myself to a cancelled Christmas and New Year too, for that matter, the season rolled around in true style. Not only did myself and a group of twenty others spend the weekend before at a nearby ski resort, but the day itself was extraordinarily extravagant, as we chose to have brunch at Beijing’s St. Regis. It was a ridiculously wonderful four hours of rediscovery. I merrily tucked into the first range of quality bread, butter, seafood, turkey, chocolate and the like that I had tasted for five months. Western food-galore and a free flow of Champagne left me grinning from ear to ear unable to really take it all in. It was the kind of place where going to the bathroom was an excitement in itself, as moisturisers of a range of viscosities offered themselves up for a perfect post-cleansing indulgence. Some poor taxi driver then had to put up with questionable renditions of Mariah Carey and The Pogues all the way home as we tore ourselves away from the feast, happy and full. A whole ‘crayjing gang’ gathering round at Davina, Bert and George’s flat later after finally being able to skype home, to watch Harry Potter 6, completing the day in a traditional way.
It was the nicest thing seeing the wonderful Joanne Morton multiple times over the festive period. As part of the Morton family tour of China, I was lucky enough to catch up with them a number of times and seeing such familiar faces from Guildford, all looking so well, was such a pleasure. This year Joanne had commissioned my Mum to make a Christmas stocking for me, which she kindly brought with her, as my first ever stocking. Having only just polished off the wealth of chocolate that it bore, I can firmly say that i’ve been missing out these past nineteen years! Thanks Joanne and Rosemary and Mum for everything. It was the best Christmas I could have imagined away from home. Thank you Davina, George, Bert, Jack, Maddy, Raquel, Sophia and Harriet for making the day beautiful.
To bring it all back to Mr Harry Potter, it was one of those days where a whole host of moments could be treasured as potential Patronus-conjuring happy memories.
Boxing day saw with it a return to class, not that Christmas day was any kind of official excuse not to be in attendance. For me, boxing day saw with it vigourous vocab-learning, accidentally eating a donkey meat sandwich and watching the unsentimental refuse of the campus coffee shop’s Christmas tree.