Christmas ... open your heart!
Christmas is not widely celebrated in China but is increasingly becoming a 'commercial success' with Santa (Shèngdàn Lǎorén - Christmas Old Man), lights and trees seen in some of the bigger cities. JiaoZuo is not considered a big city and Christmas Day is not a public holiday so it is a low key event.
In the past, we have celebrated Christmas Day in different ways in our Eagles Wings Homes or (if it falls on a school day) in our school Xi Wang Le Yuan. When the exchange rate was better, we could afford individual gifts for each child and staff member, Santa made an appearance and we celebrated together. As our finances became more of an issue, we moved to "Homes gifts" where something special would be bought for each of the Foster homes and in the last couple of years, we have dropped the gifts altogether and (thanks to a generous sponsor) we have shared a special lunch with the children and staff on Christmas Day.
Orphanage meals do not often contain meat - usually they are noodle and vegetable based, with the occasional pig being killed to provide pork for a short period of time. On Christmas Day, our children are gifted with a piece of chicken each (usually purchased from KFC!) to supplement their lunch. It doesn't sound much, but it is always well received and there are never any left overs!
This year, we had a wonderful (return) volunteer from Melbourne in China for Christmas. Tahnee provided a swag of novelty glasses, headbands and hats as well as a great stack of instant camera film. She spent time in each home taking photos of the children and documenting the special day with the camera. The children were delighted to see the photos of themselves develop in front of their eyes. Even Fan Fan the dog got in on the act! The joy on the faces of the children show what Christmas truly is about ... it's not about the presents, the lights and the tree ... it never was ... it's about the opening of our hearts to share the love given to us on that first Christmas Day.
A short post today, as I want to share the photos with you ... a picture is worth a thousand words ... so here are several thousand to tide you over. Photo credit to Tahnee and several Eaglets.
Merry Christmas from our Eagles Wings Family and our Xi Wang Le Yuan school children and staff!