But when our friends post pictures of the giant Christmas tree in Old Town Square (in Prague, no one has posted the one in PDX's Pioneer Square yet) I feel a twinge of jealousy. I love this time of year, but specifically what I love about it is warm feeling we share as a culture. Since my (immediate) family is secular, Christmas has always been about giving, sharing and generally celebrating each other's existence for us. Unfortunately, sentiment is pretty difficult to export, so (from my experience) what the East gets of Christmas is Coca Cola Santa Claus-es, paper and glitter decorations sold in cellophane, sparkly raffia in every color but "Christmas colors" and plastic Christmas trees that sing carols in Chinese (which no one buys).
"Why does Santa come down the Chimney?"
"Why is Santa so fat?"
"If Santa is magical, why does he have to dress for the cold?"
"Can Santa fly (by himself)?"
"How can I let Santa know what I want for Christmas?"
"Is Santa really real?"
It's can actually be a little heartbreaking to teach kids about the joy of Christmas when they likely won't ever experience it. It's a delicate thing. Kids here don't get sad about it (even though they are VERY excited about it in the moment), because it's all pretend to them. But my little American heart sinks a little when my co-teacher asks them questions like, "If Christmas were to come, and Santa, too, what would you ask him for?" Answers like "100 points on all my exams!" from 7-year-olds cut like a knife.
But, I'm happy to share it with them, regardless.
Since all of our loans are on the up and up (and have been for the last year or so, excepting two month hiccup in which Sallie Mae applied my payments to the incorrect loans), I have no idea what they could be after. Unless, of course, they have old information (we have a defaulted loan which we've been repaying for about a year). Which, according to what my brother read on the internet about this company's practices, is entirely possible.
Poor Lisa, of course. She was very worried for us until I got it figured out. I sent her a lengthy email explain it (so that she could translate it at her leisure). After English Corner last night she and I sat down and had a long talk about what it means to get a college education in America (vs. what it means in China). She told me she was asking me "all this" because it was her job to protect us and to make sure that our time in China is a happy one. Well, Lisa, I think you're doing a swell job. We told her just to pretend she doesn't speak English if he calls again.
If you're wondering how they found me (and two phone numbers to call) in China, it was likely through this very blog. *thunder clap*
And now, to play us out, "S-A-N-T-A" to the tune of "BINGO."