Christmas 2013^

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Christmas and Advent are a lot more fun when shared! (2013)

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One of the highlights of every calendar year is the chance to share Christmas traditions with our students and friends. We host special "parties" every Sunday during Advent, as you can see below, and sometimes get the chance to do other things together to celebrate the world's most "international" holiday.

On the first Sunday of Advent (Dec 1), I showed the movie Gua Sha to my students, so we had to get a jump on Christmas by decorating our apartment on Nov. 30. It was a lot of work for these young people, but it was fun too, and Vivian treated them to American pancakes as a reward for their effort!

Dec 8 was Board Game night (no photo this year, sorry), and Dec 15 was Greeting Card night. A dozen or so showed up to make personal greeting cards for their friends. It is always fun to watch them cut, paste, color, glue and cooperate to create beautiful cards!

(Upper left) Students help Michael decorate the Christmas tree. (Upper right), Lynn and Mercy help Vivian bake cookies for all of our fun nights. (Bottom) Participants show off their beautiful hand-made cards! (And yes, Zoe enjoys having students come over!)

(Upper three) More pictures of the ladies with their cookies. (Bottom) Every Dec 7 we watch a film to "Remember Pearl Harbor." On the last Sunday in Advent, we also watched "It's a Wonderful Life" with a full house.

In the middle of each Advent event, we pause to light an Advent candle and talk about its meaning and history. We also enjoy eating Christmas snacks!

After we light the Advent candle, we get our Advent calendar up to date. Sometimes, in addition to finding part of the "story picture" in each pocket, visitors also find a treat!

Sooner or later, someone asks about our puppets, and these cherished toys get a few moments out of the closet! From left to right, the puppets are called Shou-O, Denali, and Cinnamon. Cinnamon is responsible for Michael and Vivian's first date!

We caught these students (bottom inset) sending a "selfie" to friends via We-Chat or some such service. We're always glad to hear that lots of similar pictures go out from our apartment!

(top) Christmas Eve started with a few students joining us to go caroling at our pastor's home. (bottom) The evening ended at McDonalds, with a dozen students and friends talking about...

...talking about the wonderful program we enjoyed at the packed Gospel Church. Vivian and I know many of the performers, so we know how many hours they spend getting ready. They want it to be special because many guests have never visited a church before.

My last classes (before the exam) were Dec 23 and 24, so we "learned" about this American holiday by singing, watching Snoopy's Christmas, and playing Bingo! You can see the prizes, waiting on the front desk for winners (everyone wins something--but the best prizes go quickly!).

I've got about 150 students in total. Vivian was there to help out (and take photos). In the top photo, you see students holding up their Bingo prizes or candy canes (sent by thoughtful friends in the USA). You see a different class in the bottom photo.

Every other university I've worked for in China allowed us to throw a big party on campus for students; I couldn't get permission last year so I didn't pursue it this year, especially since all of our home activities plus our holiday "party-class" took lots of preparation time. As you can see from the above pictures, we stayed busy all month (and I don't even have photos of the times I led singing at the Bridge, sang or spoke at the International Church, or did other things. Vivian was also involved in many things, both with my students and with ladies from our church. If you are wondering what "church" has to do with this holiday, well, it is really the CORE! Christmas is really a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Other parts of the celebration entered over the centuries. Many of my students don't realize that "2013" (or whatever year it happens to be) dates back to "the first Christmas" when Jesus was born. All over the world, His life "split time" between BC and AD. If this man was that important, maybe you should spend a little time finding out why! (See below, or our holiday handouts, for more resources.)



(To learn more about Christmas, see these Christmas pages on our website: the traditional Christmas story (speech), who is Santa (圣诞老人)?, candy canes, Christmas Perspectives (poem), A Mary Christmas (speech), and the pre-Christmas Advent season. Also look for Christmas wallpaper here. You'll also find movie study guides on this website for some great holiday films: A Snoopy/Charlie Brown Christmas, Last Holiday, White Christmas, The Grinch, Home Alone, Christmas Carol, It's a Wonderful Life; Christmas also plays a part in these films: Ben Hur, The Greatest Story Ever Told...and several more!)

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