My daughter Jessica was born in September, so by her first Christmas she was old enough for me to carry around and look at Christmas lights. Her small blue eyes widened at the amazing colors and brightness. Now she is 22 and lives in California. I am teaching English in China. This is my 5th Christmas away from home. I went out last night to a colorful, cobblestoned street by the river in my Chinese city near Shanghai and was amazed at how the lights lit up like a fairly-land. I thought, “Jessica could see this.” Continue reading
My first Christmas away from America was spent in snowy Russia, 2010
Some of you may have read about my tragic childhood experiences of Christmas. On a lighter note, you may enjoy reading about my recent Christmas adventures in Russia, Turkey, and China. See how my life has progressed!
Saint Anthony’s cathedral in Istanbul, Turkey, 2012
A mall in Beijing, China, 2013
I sit in a Turkish Starbucks, beside an open fire. My chair has arms and pillows like those in English manor houses. On the table, a single glass of amber-colored tea catches firelight. It’s almost Christmas.
Among the shelves of white ceramic cups, green garlands hold red bows and golden ornaments. In this Muslim country, you can find Christmas trees and Baba Noel, but the Nativity story is not mentioned.
I love Christmas despite the fact that my father died on that day when I was four. Despite my alcoholic mother dragging me through trailer parks across America, I still love the holiday that shares a humble manger scene, angels, and one bright star reflected in a million tiny lights.
For two years my ex-husband hid my children from me. Though we lived on opposite sides of the same California mountain, he went against court orders and kept us apart. I, who had been a rich housewife and homeschool mom in a three-storey chateau beside a stream and forest, had no job or money to hire a lawyer. I could not visit my children, speak on the telephone, post a letter, or send an email. Yet I wrapped gifts like necklaces and laser lights. I wrote pathetic notes on Christmas cards (what do you say after two years apart?) and left the packed red bag, like Secret Santa, at my son’s school. Amazingly, he got the bundle. He and his sister secretly opened the presents. When their father found out, he threw their treasures in the trash. Continue reading