This morning was the school's Christmas bazaar and the high school Christmas banquet was tonight. It was at the Sheraton, but our "room" was a huge tent out back! Actually, it was much nicer than it sounds, with carpet and little white lights in a draped ceiling. But it snowed this morning and the cold wind blew in today. It was the first real day of winter temperatures, the kind that make your knees hurt when you walk. So they had heaters all over the place trying to keep that tent warm. At one point we blew a breaker, and after that the lights were dimmed and we ate by candlelight but had heat. It was actually pretty nice. And the decorations were very well done. Most of the entertainment was Christmas related, so it helped bring the holiday in. I've been a little depressed this week, and this helped lift my spirits. Singing Silent Night and hearing The Innkeeper by John Piper read aloud were nice moments, and seeing three teen boys lip-sync the Chipmunks Christmas was fun. The theme was masquerade, so we all wore masks and elegant clothing. We draw stares in everyday clothing.
I went shopping with a group of ladies on Monday. We went to DaHuTong, which is where the street vendors shop, so the prices are cheap and they are hoping you will buy in bulk. I took some pictures and bought a few things, some of which turned out to have very funny wording on the boxes. I thought you might enjoy reading them with me.
The first one is a foot scraper, a kind of very serious sandpaper for those of us with very rough feet. The package says: "Get rid of the rough and hard scurf of foot. Make the foot not to be odorous and itchy but become slick and soft. The foot scrub can massage the foot if using it usually. There is curative effect to neurosis, nephritis, insomnia, etc. When you walk. It can make you relax. When you sleep, it can make you to have a good dream." I'm excited that this foot scrubber will get rid of my neurosis! I had to look up nephritis, which turns out to be kidney disease.
The other item was a "Two Lint Remover." Now, I have one of these in storage in the states, and I've missed it; it runs on batteries and removes those little lint balls that form on sweaters. I spent $1.25 on it, and felt good about that. But the box turns out to be worth twice that amount. "The lint remover from our company is the latest product in our country at the beginning of 21st century. In the past unable to remove totally full to bits ball chipping above woolen or artificial doogs, etc, NOW can function as use it. And it is simple to operate, totally suitable for being used in every family. It is suitable for being used in removing bits chipping of fluffed above the clothes, it also clean dust." So, if you have full to bits ball chipping or bits chipping of fluffed above the clothes, just call me.
It might be a good thing I already knew what to do with these items.
Lately I've been reading my "baby" brother's blog . What struck me about it was his subtitle, "Nobody tells you when you get born here how much you'll come to love it and how you'll never belong here." Never belong.
That's what I've been thinking, almost like the rhythm of a railroad, and I bike the side streets of Tianjin lately. Never belong, never belong. This is not my country. I have learned to cope, I like some things about it, and I can learn to even (dare I say?) love it here. But I will never be a Chinese person. I'll never belong here.
Local people point that out to me regularly. "Waiguoren? Waiguoren." Foreigner. Literally “outside country person.” I am reminded of TV shows in which some hick says, “Too many fur’ners ‘round here.” I’m not sure what American people group that represents; maybe it’s the perpetual tension of the southerners toward the northerners. Maybe it represents the attitude of ignorant people who don’t realize that an overwhelming majority of Americans have ancestors born in some other country.
Waiguoren. Foreigner. Never belong. Interestingly, every time I have heard that the last few days (and it is at least once a day), a verse pops into my mind from Hebrews 11. It says that people of faith “admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.” I don’t have anything profound to say about that; I think it is profound in its own right. What I am concluding is that every time someone calls me a foreigner, I should smile, because my Father is reminding me that I am a citizen of a far better country – and I don’t mean America.
We’re having Thanksgiving in stages. This may just be the best Thanksgiving idea I’ve ever had. It happened by accident, but what a happy accident.
My husband will be in Thailand for most of this week, going to a teacher’s conference. My older daughters are in universities back home in America. So my 16-year-old daughter and I will be here alone, in China, far from family on this holiday. At first that seemed daunting and sad.
I found a turkey, which was a miracle in itself, but I had to buy it a week ago. Then, once it was defrosted (because I don’t have freezer space for a turkey), I had to cook it. So on Friday I popped the eight-pound bird into the oven. My ayi (house helper) kept looking at it and marveling at what a big “fire chicken” that was.
Friday night’s dinner was obviously going to be turkey, so I also made one of the family’s traditional holiday dishes, the green bean casserole with the dried onions in and on it. They were thrilled! Sunday, there was more turkey to eat, so I made mashed potatoes and stuffing to go with it. We put decorations and a candle on the table and it felt like a feast. Today I have instructions to do the sweet potato dish with marshmallows on top (pray that I find marshmallows somewhere) and pumpkin pie. It has taken us four days to make and eat Thanksgiving dinner! This was the most relaxed and enjoyable Thanksgiving meal I’ve ever cooked. I just might do this again next year.