Monday, 31 December 2012

Christmas in Taipei II

Marking the change of year with winter festivals is clearly a good idea, it just becomes alarming as they seem to roll around with ever-increasing frequency. This time last year we were living in our noisy apartment and my son was still on his journey of adjustment to school life here in Taiwan. My eldest son was visiting from Hong Kong University for the holidays, and we were experiencing Taipei's weather extremes at the lower end of the temperature scale for the first time. I was also learning how to cook big dinners in small ovens.

This year we're in a much nicer apartment, my son's very happy at school and instead of relatives we had friends for Christmas dinner. Taipei weather is the same, however.

Turkeys are difficult to come by and would never fit in my oven anyway. Plus, let's face it, one of the reasons we don't eat it year-round is because it doesn't taste that nice. So we had chicken and other meats. As well, I wanted to introduce my friends to Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and gravy. Christmas pudding with hot, liquid custard was another novelty to them. All in all, it worked out well, though dishes arrived at the table at intervals.

My husband had bought a selection of drinks for the children, just picking them at random; Japanese drinks with Japanese and Chinese labels, but no English at all. It turned out one was wasabi flavour and another was curry. They smelled utterly disgusting but apparently the curry one tasted quite nice!

It isn't too difficult to have a fairly normal Christmas here. Our problem this year was that Christmas Day fell on a school day, so we got around this by postponing Christmas to a more convenient time, in this case, the following Sunday. This worked out so well I'm tempted to do the same every year. It made no difference to the fun and excitement, and it was far less stressful to have Christmas when it suited us.

You can buy most necessary paraphernalia, including Christmas trees, decoration, cards and wrapping paper, from Costco and other places. We were only missing Christmas crackers. Last year I'd included them in our original shipment from the UK. This time, they were nowhere to be found. I was surprised by this discussion on Forumosa, which revealed that crackers aren't a tradition in the US.

As you may or may not be aware, Christmas crackers contain a small trinket, a silly joke and a funny hat. By coincidence our friends had supplied the last item, so all was not lost:

Such warm hats will be useful for the coming weeks as temperatures are currently dipping into single digits.

So our second Christmas in Taiwan has drawn to a close. No doubt the next one will advance on us even more quickly. We were touched by the number of family and friends that had made the effort to send presents, cards and emails, reminding us of people sorely missed. I'd like to thank you all and wish you, and everyone else reading this blog, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

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