’tis the season

Posted by anya on December 2nd, 2007 filed in Uncategorized

December 1st. The first day of winter (in Russian eyes.) I had to be reminded of it by Elena, as we both stood, unable and unwilling to believe that in just one short month it will be a new year, and with it the possibility of never seeing one another again.


Here’s what’s really nice about China: it is so easy to bypass the ‘holidays’ here. In China, the whole plethora of red, green, and white that makes up the holiday color scheme, has gone unnoticed, save for a few obligatory pictures of Santa and an odd Christmas tree display at Fuwah, the biggest hotel in Weifang.


I once read that one of the ideas that has been researched the least is how commercial society affects gratitude. As we get wealthier and more inundated with media images of what is ‘good’ and ‘happy’ and ‘in’, what happens to our need to appreciate and to thank those around us, and acknowledge those we will never get to thank in person. It is easy (so easy) to be a skeptic (as I still am), and say that our ideas of what we need and want are primarily determined by ourselves. It’s all too easy to scoff at jaded communications students, and reject their view of media as a way to control thoughts, decisions, and desires. But the truth is, it’s taken me this trip to China to realize how little of ‘Christmas’ I feel without radio stations devoted to carols and TV specials devoted to ‘the season’.


The lovely thing about being in China is that for the first time in a while, it’s December, and I’m not aching over the perfect gift for the archetypal “neighbor” “sister” “dad” and “friend who has everything.” I am not curious about the latest holiday design on the Starbucks cups, and I’m not buying wrapping paper in bulk. I’m not buying much of anything these days. It’s December and the thing that’s occupying my headspace the most is the inevitability of leaving. The realization that it’s that time to start counting the lasts. Seeing people for the last time, and the awkwardness of goodbyes. Promises I will never keep, and those that won’t be kept by others. And here’s another thing that’s been creeping in… a slow, lingering realization of just how damn fortunate I am to have had this experience. Even though it will soon be over, I am overwhelmed with gratitude (that’s precisely it) for China, for my parents, for my education, and for those amazing people I am lucky enough to call friends.


And did they tell you the name of the game, boy?

They call it riding the gravy train  

4 Responses to “’tis the season”

  1. kathy Says:

    You know, for a long time, since I’ve been out of high school, I haven’t bought presents for anyone outside of my immediate family during Christmas and for a long time now, I haven’t felt the anticipation or the magic of Christmas. I haven’t ached to feel Christmas for a while but yet, this Christmas as my first away from my family, I feel a tad lost.. as if I am missing out on that magic.

    You know I was planning to leave an elaborate and eloquent comment to explain to you how I felt after reading that but I am going to blame my incoherentness on Christmas cheer.

    You should know that you are a fascinating creature and reading this blog reminded me of why I am such a fan of your blogs.

  2. Anna Cheung Says:

    hmmmm…”jaded communication students”

    I wonder who that is?!

    Another great post, dear

  3. Cynthia Williams Says:

    Hi Anya,

    I loved this entry! I pine for such a holiday season (sorry about the bad pun.) I get sick of that Christmas music in the stores about Nov. 15; you see it seems to start right after Halloween now. You are a great writer and a very thoughtful person, and I’m sure the gifts you give your friends and family are worth much more than the material ones can ever be.

    I’m Zach Williams’s mom, if you’re wondering. Have a safe trip home (maybe you’re back already) and fantastic travels wherever you go. As Gertrude Stein said, “Wherever you go, there you are.”

  4. anya Says:

    Mrs. Cynthia Williams!

    what a pleasant surprise!

    Your son has told me I have an invitation to come visit Seattle, which I haven’t gotten to explore much yet. Hopefully fantastic travels are soon to come, even if they’re just a little south of the border :)

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