Monday, December 27, 2010

Top Five Things I'll Try To Avoid Next Christmas

Not one of the jollier Christmases I've ever had; but perhaps I can learn from the experience....

The Top Five Things I'll Try To Avoid Next Christmas

5)  Forgetting my host's address
This shouldn't be a disastrous oversight.  After all, even if you have the address (and a map.... and some kind of hi-tech homing device...) you're still not going to find a Beijing apartment the first time you visit it.  You do kind of rely on being able to contact the host - or someone - by telephone, to be guided in the last little bit of the way.  I almost baled on my Christmas lunch because no-one was answering their phone as I neared the venue.  (I was literally on the point of giving up and going home, when I happened to bump into the host making a run to his nearest supermarket.)

4)  Arriving too early
Well, I arrived when I'd been told to.  But almost no-one else showed up for another two or three hours.  At least I got to try to keep the peace between my two neurotically squabbling co-hosts....

3)  Too many strangers
The group ended up being just a little too large for comfort, I felt.  And, at the risk of sounding what might seem a vaguely racist note, there were perhaps rather too many Chinese folks involved; to try to save myself from that charge, I might modify it by saying there were too many non-Brits involved.  This was essentially a Brit party, and Christmas is all about the nostalgia of shared experience: if Americans and Aussies don't get the British Christmas, then the Chinese certainly won't.  And having too many people around who don't have a clue what's going on does tend to leech away the energy of the occasion.  It didn't help either that so many of our company were journalists: I love journalists, and many of my best friends are in that profession, but... they do tend to take their work home with them; and they do tend to get very regularly screwed by the Chinese authorities' not-so-furtive attempts to 'bury bad news' over the Western holidays (last year it was Liu Xiaobo's sentencing on Christmas Day; this year, the announcement of another interest rate hike by the Bank of China).  No, having so many people arrive late and/or leave early - and wear distracted frowns while they were there - didn't conduce well to jollity either.

2)  Nemesis
Well, I suppose the point of a Nemesis is that you can't avoid it/him/her.  My particular Nemesis has insinuated herself into my life so comprehensively - living in my part of town, frequenting my favourite bars, making a point of trying to be friends with all of my friends - that there is no getting away from her.  God knows who 'invited' her this time!  I rather suspect she just got wind of the party and invited herself; that is the thing that most exasperates me about her.  I suppose I should be grateful she only turned up in the evening....

Ah, but these are all fairly trivial pieces of social observation.  It wasn't such a bad day at all, really (excellent food!). It's just that I wasn't in much of a state to enjoy a party myself.....

1)  Ill health, depression, lack of sleep
I'd had an utterly wretched week, and then spent most of Friday night puking bile down my wash-handbasin... so, I was setting out for Christmas lunch on about 3 hours sleep, with very little appetite and a powerful aversion to the idea of drinking (I stuck to local beers most of the day, and that only because the host was short of drinking water).  The main lesson I take from this year's less-than-optimal experience is: Don't go out if you're feeling that ill.

I think that's going to be my last Christmas in Beijing anyway; so, 'lessons learned' may not have much applicability next year.  Just venting, really (as usual!).

I hope you guys out there had more FUN than I did over this last weekend.


Anonymous said...

Well, misery loves company, so revel in the news that my jollility rivaled yours in the SHORT department. Pneumonia tops my list of Things to Avoid Next Year at Christmas. I am told I don't drink enough. Perhaps this would help.

Froog said...

Gosh, you trump my Scrooging with that, CW. I hope you're feeling better now. Take care of yourself.

el said...

Christmas is was overrated, as are New Years and birthdays. Next year I should have a year of gainful employment under my belt, and I intend to spend Christmas on a beach in SE Asia. Santa and the Christmas Spirit are pretty much dead to me.

Froog said...

Bah, humbug!!

I think you need to watch The Muppet Christmas Carol, Elly. Or Scrooged.