I just read a news article that says Hollywood is not going to present a slew of Christmas movies this year. In part because of the market saturation of last year that caused Tim Burton’s new Christmas movie to be released before Halloween, and in part because… well, because there are just no new stories to tell.
I beg to differ. Oh, sure there’s been plenty of stories about coming home for Christmas and discovering the true meaning of Christmas… but, what about bringing Christmas home for the Holidays?
See, I live in a country that has only recently discovered Christmas. And unfortunately the only spirit of Christmas the Chinese know is its commercial appeal. The more upscale shopping areas have trees up and there are some decorations even in the smaller shop windows around campus, but when I quiz my students about what Christmas means, they are clueless. The more meretricious ones understand it is about getting (and sometimes giving) presents. But what about the spirit of Christmas?
For me, Christmas is a Holiday of the Heart. It is about compassion and about giving. It is about letting the most unappreciated know that their efforts are not in vain. It is about that look of dumbfounded surprise on someone’s face who never expected to be recognized or given a gift when they are given a gift. A gift from the heart.
Of course I am aware that to most in America, Christmas is a Christian celebration of rebirth and of hope. I cannot impart this story here; the Chinese are simply not ready for it. Nor is it legally allowed. But I can tell my students about the caring and the sharing. And on the way to doing that, I will be sharing what Christmas means to me with people I’ve come to care a great deal about: my students and this community.
And you, my dear Readers. I will chronicle my efforts over the next few blog posts so you can see for yourself how this project of mine is going. I will upload pictures and video to my Flickr page so you can not only read the accounting but see the smiles and hear the laughter for yourself. That is my Christmas gift to you.
However, I must admit that this is a very daunting project for me. I’m swimming against a monumental tide here. I am one person. I have about 100 students and I hope to single-handedly make a difference in this community, at least for one day. Some of my students might not want to participate. Others might be so enthusiastic that they run away with the idea and I run out of resources (read: money). It could be a veritable stampede of goodwill, or a dud of a deal.
I won’t know until I try.
My first step is to get an understanding of what these kids perceive Christmas to be about. That is their final exam question: What is your understanding of Christmas? I will let you know what their answers are.
Well! What do you know! I CAN write a short blog post!