This Christmas was different from any before, but of course still the same in many of the traditional ways.
Instead of making or buying normal gifts this year, I decided to do a bake-off in my apartment, and give everyone a little plate/bag of Christmas sweets. So on my day off, the Thursday before Christmas, I started baking cookies. Saturday afternoon I made candy and more cookies, and then Wednesday – Christmas Eve -I spent the entire day baking cookies and cheesecakes and making candy. Mikaela came over to help mid-day, and 15 or 16 of my students came for a few hours, some to try cooking, some to watch my English Christmas movies. Christmas morning I finally finished up by rolling the chocolate truffles in cocoa, and putting everything in the various plates, bowls, bags, and boxes.
The goodies above are:
Bailey’s Truffle; Amaretto Truffle; Chocolate Truffle (recipe from CFE)
Spicy Ginger Drop (recipe from WD); Butter Crunch (recipe from Dad); Peanut Butter Cookie
Brown Sugar Icebox Cookie; Thimble Cookie (recipe from Mom); Chocolate Fudge (recipe from AR)
Cranberry Double-Chip Cookie (recipe from WD); Plate of cookies; Turtle Cheesecake
Gifts from my family in the US arrived in the mail a couple weeks before Christmas as usual – they’re so thoughtful that way – and I talked with them on the phone both in the morning after they got back from the Christmas Eve service there, and in the evening as they were getting up and preparing to open presents. Since Jordan and Becky were visiting her parents in Texas, it’s the first time Mom and Dad haven’t had one or the other of us there for Christmas since 1980. I called Jordan in the evening as well and was able to talk to him as they started their gift exchange. Sadly, I was not so well-prepared and none of the gifts or cards I’d sent were there in time for Christmas, but the gifts I’d ordered online (which were the big ones anyway) did arrive when they were supposed to, so they had something from me to open.
The Christmases I’ve been here before I have spent with the Southeys, my China-family as it were. This year they had a large open house, with a big pot-luck meal at 1 or 2pm and a random gift exchange for those wishing to participate. So much for telling our students that westerners don’t have parties on Christmas Day! You can see a couple very-amateur videos of the gift exchange time here and here. We had a lot of fun, and I was able to give out most of the gifts I’d prepared and one or two more personal gifts.
the men’s gift exchange
Rosie holds Jace
the dessert table
Mikaela and Sara
Andrew and Kelly
the Southeys’ Christmas tree
Celia and Pat
Sarah and her dad
Peppermint Ice Cream, freshly made, with candy cane sprinkles
Teagen’s gift to me, a candle holder made by punching holes in an empty can – see the lights reflecting on the wall behind it (on the right) from the holes in the back
People trickled out over the day. In the late afternoon, the more family-like group that was left watched “The Princess Bride” together, and Peter annoyed amused everyone by quoting almost all the lines along with the actors. To be fair, he wasn’t the only one quoting the film, just the most prolific!
After I caught a taxi home, I went to the Knoxes’ apartment across the street to drop in on their evening open house. There I met some of my students from the nearby campus who I’d taught my first year here. It was great to re-connect with a few of them after so long. We’re all seniors now, kind of, since it’s my fourth year of teaching as well. Who knows, maybe we’ll graduate together!
I still have one bowl of chocolate truffle in the fridge to roll into truffles… hm, I wonder when to do that and who to share it with? Maybe I’ll just get a spoon……