I saw my first Chinese Santa Clause the other day. Way too skinny, wrong accent, no rosey cheeks, and his beard was falling off! Christmas in China is almost comical. Yes, it is commercialized in the U.S., but it still has foundations. Americans know (and some celebrate) the true reason it exists. Others treat it as a time to return home and see family. All the while, of course, spending money and exchanging gifts. But imagine a country that sells Christmas trees and red and green-wrapped presents, and a population that buys them, and no one knows why! They are all at work on the 25th for goodness sake! No one sees their family, it is not celebrated for religious reasons, they don't even exchange presents. I've yet to figure out why anything Christmas-related is sold in a store.
I called my Dad sometime around the 10th of December, and told him that one of the things I was looking forward to the most was walking into a decorated house with the tree, presents, stockings, baked goods, etc. Do you know what his response was? "Oh, well we'll go buy the tree tomorrow!" Haha. Wouldn't you know it, they've all been too busy to put up the tree.
Thanksgiving, the 4th of July and Halloween were all interesting to celebrate in China, even though not quite the same as the US. Christmas, however, has hundreds of tiny little traditions wound into it that you don't realize exist until they are missing. Frosted sugar cookies, hanging garlands, ornaments, egg nog, stockings, yard decorations, singing carols, ribbon everywhere, candy canes, wish lists, musicals, writing cards, seasonal movies, fireplaces and hot chocolate...just a few of the many parts of Christmas that I am looking forward to in the States. Of all the holidays, this would definitely be the hardest to miss.