We kicked things off with a Christmas Eve party at a friend's house here. We joined about 20 other people around steamy bowls of hot pot and ate until we were stuffed. It was pretty tasty, but the fellowship was even better. Christmas in China can be pretty hard. (I should know - this is the third one of the last four that we've spent here. It's hard because you are so far from family and a culture that generally acknowledges it. But it is the first one that I didn't spend at least part of the day crying! So I'd say that's success.) Anyway, because so many people are far from their own families and traditions, we do a pretty good job of coming together. We've never been to so many Christmas parties as we have in China... and it helps make things feel a bit more like they should.
We started Christmas morning with a doctor's appointment. Odd, I know. But it isn't an official holiday here. It was actually OK - I mean, if we're sitting around waiting on the baby anyway, it's kind of nice to feel like you are at least doing something productive in that department. And the official verdict: wait some more! Nothing much to report, other than increased weight gain (on my part), which I chalk up to the intense holiday baking I've been doing. And, a baby that continues to be doing quite well and seems to be quite cozy, unfortunately. (The cozy part - not the doing well part.) We do know the child isn't deaf. During the weekly non-stress test (standard operating procedure here in your last month), our little one was decidedly uncooperative. The test monitors the baby's heart rate and ensures that it responds the way it should. So, when it moves, the heart rate should climb and then fall again when it is still. Well, our child wanted to sleep through the test, evidently. And no movement = no results. So the nurse gets a metal cup and a metal medical instrument and starts banging them a few inches from my stomach. Within about 10 seconds, the child was squirming.
No wonder he/she doesn't want to come out...
One thing I've learned through three Chinese Christmases is that I always miss the holiday meal. I had my heart set on one this year, so after the doctor's appointment, Jacob and I treated ourselves to our own Christmas celebration. We went to the Grand Millennium, a 5-star hotel in downtown Beijing, and
Then we went home and did what people the world over do after eating too much. We napped. And then it was time to get ready for our next big party... another gathering at another friend's house. This time everyone brought holiday-ish appetizers and drinks. We made mulled wine and hot spinach artichoke dip with homemade sourdough bread. Someone else made homemade summer sausage! Can you imagine? It was actually really, really good! After hours of eating, talking, laughing, and playing games, Jacob and I came home and talked with some of our family. (Hopefully we catch the rest of you this morning!)
It was a wonderful Christmas... though our celebrations did seem to involve way too much food. I'm so thankful that we had a special day with so many people who we love. Next year, when we're gathered around tables with our families, I'm sure part of me will be remembering this Christmas and wishing we could spend it with our friends here, too.
Well, that's all for now. I'm going to go eat a piece of my yummy homemade pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream for breakfast. That's perfectly normal right. Hey, it did start out as fresh pumpkin, so really I'm having a vegetable for breakfast.
Merry Christmas to all!