Christmas in Mexico & in Ireland

christmas tree with ornaments

Photo by Kevin Bidwell on Pexels.com

I’ve had Christmases in Ireland, China and Mexico, and out of all of them, Christmas day in China was the worst. Bar one, where we were both off work and we spent the day eating christmas pudding and opening Christmas presents which my Mum sent me, drinking beer and watching Christmas films on my laptop in our freezing apartment. That was a very special Christmas day for us and I really enjoyed it. The others weren’t very good, with one of us/ or both of us working. (They don’t celebrate Christmas in China).

Of course I LOVE this time of year at home in Ireland. I love my Mums cooking; roast potatoes, roast beef, veg, stuffing, gravy….. oh I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Then we would usually have pavlova (my Dad’s favourite dessert) and an Irish coffee in the evening. The fire would be blazing, the christmas lights all on, and I just really love Christmas time at home.

But this time I’m not celebrating Christmas at home. I’m in Mexico, and the weather itself makes me not think that it’s Christmas time at all! The weather is a balmy 23 degrees, with around 14/15 degrees at night. So not exactly freezing weather!

My husbands family don’t celebrate Christmas either, so the lack of a tree and lights at home also makes me doubt the time of year!

So, let me explain to you the differences between a Christmas in Mexico and Ireland.

In Ireland, usually Christmas eve is busy; we are wrapping the last of the presents, maybe running to the shops to buy that one last gift, and preparing the feast for the next day. Many religious families will go to midnight mass. This is usually in the late evening and not midnight as it suggests.

Christmas day we usually wake and open our presents. Religious families will usually go to mass first and then come home to open their presents. My family aren’t religious anymore so we don’t go to mass.

Then at around 1-3pm we have our big Christmas dinner, dessert and then for the remainder of the day we just laze about, eat crap, drink Irish coffees and watch Christmas films on tv. This is my families routine so maybe other Irish families may differ!

Every shop is closed on Christmas day…. even the airports! You will rarely see anyone on the streets, as everyone will be indoors with their families. (plus it’s too cold to be outside)

So, Mexico now!

From what I’ve gathered, Christmas Eve is when people have their big dinner. Usually it will be later on in the evening, with fireworks being heard outside. The gifts are usually opened after the big dinner, and usually after 12AM, because it’s now Christmas day.

Then, Christmas day is rather strange. I saw that a few shops/ restaurants were open, with employees chatting to each other because there’s nobody actually dining in their restaurants. I noticed that there were a lot more cars than I expected. Why are there people out? Are they not inside with their families celebrating and spending time together?

I prefer the way it’s celebrated in Ireland more, I feel like in Mexico they only celebrate it at night and only for a few hours, and during the daytime it’s just sort of like a normal day, whereas on the 25th in Ireland, that whole day is dedicated to just being with family.

Maybe next year we will celebrate in Ireland!

Aisling

A Gift From Work

As I’m living in China, I’ve unfortunately had to work on Christmas day. Because I’m working in a University, there’s no hope in hell that I’d be able to take it off. It’s just a normal day for the students and other teachers! However If I was working in a private English company, they would (usually) allow every foreign teacher a day off.

So to make it at least a little more Christmassy, I decided that for this week we would watch the film ‘Elf’ in class together. I needed to talk to students one on one, so the others watched the film while I talked to each student. So it was an easy class for them!
I’ve now watched the second half of ‘Elf’ 10 times…… so I don’t want to see that film for another 5/6 years!!! That’s one problem of watching a film; you have to watch it 10 more times for every class!

During Monday I received a message from the school asking me to go and pick up my Christmas gift. Gift?? I’m actually getting a gift from the school!!! God that’s nice of them! They still haven’t given us a hoover that we’ve needed since we started in September, so I was surprised I actually received 500yuan/ €65 in a hongbao (red envelope)!

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STILL no hoover though!

But anyway, it was a nice surprise to receive! In my old company I’d most likely get a small flower with a greeting attached to it…. so my hongbao is way better!

So next week we all have a week off from uni and then we only have 3 more weeks left until the semester is over! I’ve been complaining that it’s going too slow, but now I’m nearing the finish line at last!

Now I need to think about what I’ll spend my 500yuan on! Definitely not a hoover anyway! I’ll keep badgering the school about that.

Aisling

Our First Christmas On Our Own

Our First Christmas On Our Own

For the past two Christmas, I’ve been thankful to have had two great ones; one with my boyfriends family, and the other with my own family. This time however, it was only going to consist of myself and my boyfriend.

For my first Christmas away from my family, I arrived in China for my teaching internship. Unfortunately I had to work, so the day wasn’t very Christmassy at all! I remember talking to my family that evening and after I hung up I cried because I missed them so much and just felt disconnected from everything. My first Christmas away from home and I’m stuck working and being by myself. I think 2 of my students gave me presents which was so kind of them, but I made a promise to myself that I would definitely be home for the next Christmas.

However I didn’t keep my promise. After that I happened to meet my boyfriend  and we decided we would go to his country and be with his Mum and Dad. It was quite strange to celebrate Christmas in a hot country such as Mexico, whereas I’m so used to having it during the winter; it being freezing and having the roaring fire in the house.

I had a really great time there, but before long we were back in China!

Last Christmas, I unexpectedly had to go home, so we decided to go during December so that I could be with my family to celebrate. With the arrival of my new nephew, it was the first Christmas with him, so it was a new experience for the whole family!

I enjoyed my Mums dinner, ate pavlova, drank loads of Irish coffee and Baileys, and had a great time with my family and my boyfriend! I enjoyed my time (and food) so much that I also got a good deal fatter!!

So for this Christmas we didn’t travel anywhere to celebrate! It was our first Christmas in China on our own as a couple. There was no festive feeling in Chengdu as no one celebrates it here (although every supermarket sells Christmas stuff which I find weird), but we made the most of it ourselves!

My Mum sent a parcel to us the week before which had lots of presents for us… wrapped of course! Then as a surprise, my boyfriend bought a small tree and lights, and when I arrived home from work one night, he told me to close my eyes and he guided me to the tree. I opened my eyes and saw this cute tree with lights and the presents my family sent us!

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So when Christmas Day came, I turned the lights on, put on some Christmas music, and we opened our presents together.

At noon, and not particularly knowing how to cook a Christmas dinner, we decided to order some food from a restaurant and we watched the film ‘Elf’, as we had not seen that film in years! After our lunch, we treated ourselves to some hot chocolate and Ferrero Rochers that my boyfriend got me.

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Later in the afternoon, we decided to go to the shop and buy some coca cola and some cheap red wine. We mix them together and they are called Katembas. One of our South African friends told us about this drink! We both love it!

Knowing that my family would be waking up soon, I tried to give them a call, but the connection was terrible! I’m guessing it was because everyone else was trying to ring back home and talk. So I was resigned to wait until there was better connection.

After a while we tried again and thankfully we got through! It was great seeing my nephews playing with their new toys. I got a bit sad at this point; missing out on everything. I would have loved to have seen there faces seeing all their presents. Oh and eating Mums dinner!

But it was great to see them happy and having a good day.

After talking to the family, and for our dinner, we made some quick Quesadillas and we enjoyed eating them while drinking our Katembas. We decided to stick on a film called ‘Krampus’, a scary Christmas film, which we both thought was quite good! It was something different anyway!

At around 8:30, we watched our last film ‘Mean Girls’. I know it’s not a very Christmassy film, but my boyfriend never saw it before so I really wanted him to see it. My Mum surprised us by putting a Christmas pudding that she made into a tin for us. We opened the present and we put it aside, thinking there are chocolates inside. Later my Mum asked me ‘What did you think of the pudding?’

What pudding?? She never sent us a pudding…

She told us to open the tin, and there it was, wrapped up! We decided to have this for our dessert, and it was lovely!  Lastly, we had a little Tequila. My boyfriends Mum and Dad, when they were over, brought some good quality Tequila from Mexico over for us so we had a small drop of that to end our Christmas day.

And do you know what, we both had a great Christmas together. The day before I was thinking ‘Will I miss my family and be sad for the whole day?, What food will we eat? What will we do?’ but thankfully it turned out to be a lovely relaxing day with just the two of us.

Although there wasn’t a very festive feeling outside, but we made it festive in our apartment. We enjoyed each others company, ate loads of food, and had a great day!

So we are now both wondering where or what we will be doing for next Christmas…. Wherever it will be, I’m sure it will be wonderful like my past 3 Christmases!

再见

爱玲

A sisterly surprise.

For the past month, myself and Rafa’s sister have been secretly communicating with each other in order for her to come to Ireland to surprise Rafa. Since arriving home, my nerves have been nearly gone with worry that he would find out! Constantly looking over my shoulder, my phone was nearly always with me and I tried to make sure my facebook page was closed so I wouldn’t get any notifications. 

The day she arrived I made the excuse of having to pick up his ‘present’ from town. Thankfully he didn’t suspect a thing and he arrived downstairs greeted by his sister sitting on the sofa. I also got the whole thing on video to capture the moment!

For the few days that she was here, we went to a local pub… and it was mad busy! Becoming used to the quiet bars of Chengdu, this one was crazy; plenty of drunk people and blaring music, I was nearly ready to walk out of the place. Thankfully though we found a corner to stand at and we then began to enjoy ourselves.

We also went to see the new Star Wars, which I might add was very good! We also visited a small village called ‘Carlingford’ a picturesque seaside area that is popular with tourists during the summer. Although when we arrived theres wasn’t a soul there and it was quite cold, so we went to a small cafe and enjoyed a tasty scone and hot chocolate.

Our last night comprised of the family going for a lovely meal and visiting Santa. I bought Nathan a traditional Chinese outfit so he wore that. He looked so cute! We plan to put it on him for Christmas Day and get some nice pictures of him.

After 4 days she left to go back to France, but we’ll be seeing her quite soon. Next August she is visiting us, along with her boyfriend in Chengdu! I’m sure that will fly by!

再见!

爱玲。

Christmas At Home.

I’ve been home for nearly a week now, enjoying Mums food and playing with my nephews. My older nephew, I notice, has improved his English since the last time I saw him. He’s started Primary school so he comes up with words like ‘approaching’  and ‘nocturnal’, which have surprised me! I’m so used to kids his age in China only being able to say very basic English words. And the youngest, who is 10 months old, can now sit up unaided and can clap his hands! 

The weather of course is rainy and cloudy, but it’s lovely to be inside in the warmth! Rafa was afraid that he would be freezing in Ireland, but I assured him that inside places it’s warm. Instead of Chengdu where EVERYWHERE is cold! It’s nice not having to wear a coat indoors!

My Chinese studies is slowly coming back, where I’ve been translating our textbook into English, or  I should say into ‘Chinglish.’ That way we can read the Chinglish and try to translate it back into Mandarin. I feel like I’m actually studying by doing this. I have plenty of time to study, but of course TV and the nephews pull me away.

And I’ve FINALLY gotten my hair cut and coloured. After my bad experience during the summer, I held off getting it done until now. After letting it grow for the past 3/4 years, I got it cut to my shoulders. My hair dresser said the colour should last a few months, as it’s my natural hair colour… but, my hair isn’t the best at keeping colours in, so I wont be surprised if it’s much brighter soon.

So next week I have my hospital appointment, then Christmas is around the corner! I still have stuff to get, but I still have time.

China wise, I’m not missing too much. I miss my independence though as this time I don’t have the small car to be able to drive places, so I’ve been relying on my parents to drop us places. We have, to me the ‘big car’, but I think It’s too big to drive, so I’m reluctant to buy insurance for it in case I don’t drive it. But I may brave it and venture out one day in it!

再见!

爱玲。

Yay, we got our visas!

Our 2 week wait is finally at an end! This morning we travelled to the centre of Chengdu to retrieve our new year long visas. Although we gave everything that we needed, we were unsure whether we would need to do a Medical exam. We prayed we wouldn’t, so when we handed over our documents, and when they didn’t mention anything about the Medical, then we presumed we were safe. However I constantly had that niggling feeling that they could ask (and I really wouldn’t be surprised) for a health check.

But, thankfully we received our passports with no problems! That is one less thing to worry about, and knowing 100 percent that we can now travel to Ireland. Leaving in 2 weeks, we will be there for a month, time for me to get my procedure done and then time with the family for Christmas.

I missed 2 Christmases at home, so this was a complete surprise that I would be home for this one. After going home for the summer, Christmas was DEFINITELY not on the cards. But oh well, I’ll enjoy it anyway. God knows when I’ll be back.

Although I will be missing a few weeks of Uni, I plan on trying to study the missed chapters at home and also during my private tutoring before I leave. It is amazing what vocab you pick up, and the random ones that stick.

鬼: gui= ghost.

拉肚子: la duzi= to have diarrhoea.

疯: feng= crazy/mad

Ha, I mightn’t be able to ask for directions, but I can confidently say If I have diarrhoea. Also the word for ‘ghost’ is one that I have stored, although quite useless.

It is amazing though, what words crop up during English class with my students. For instance, I was explaining the word ‘famous’, which she didn’t know. I said the Chinese of it to her and she immediately understood. I’m noticing more and more English words appearing that I actually know the Chinese of them, which is great for me! I’m actually remembering them.

My head even translated something into Chinese which I had forgotten the word in English! We were eating some bbq and I noticed this lady was using extremely long chopsticks while cooking; maybe 3 times the length of normal ones. I told Rafa ‘Oh look at the lady using the long…….’

I actually forgot the name in English for chopsticks, and before I knew it, kuaizi popped into my head! ha although this experience may have just been a once off, there is still hope that in the future I won’t need to translate EVERYTHING in my head.

And with regards to my very bad student, I had a short talk with my PA, and before she tried to convince me to take her again I said NO. No way. Although I feel bad for not teaching her, I don’t feel bad having to put up with her.

The PA said ‘Aisling I’m so sorry for putting you through this.’

I replied ‘You shouldn’t be sorry, you don’t have to be.  It’s not your fault and It’s not my fault either. It’s the parents fault for not teaching her daughter good behaviour. ‘

I advised her to give her to a male teacher; she may be more timid with them. But we’ll see how it goes!

再见

爱玲

Aisling.

 

Holidays!

My life has now been consumed by the thought of HOLIDAYS.

Myself and my boyfriend are going to Mexico ( his hometown) for a month in December. I can’t wait! Each day I am counting down the day we leave. We are going to visit his parents and do some sight seeing.

It was quite difficult to get the time off work, but I managed it.

Now the only problem, it’s only October. I still have 40 something days to wait.

So then, after my contract finishes, we hopefully will go to Ireland in around April. My sister is having a baby in February so I definitely have to come home and visit.

My initial plan was to go home in December, but then I decided to postpone it until after my sister has the baby so I would be able to see him/her.

It will be good to visit home. I’ve been missing it the past few weeks. I think it’s because I know I won’t be there for Christmas. Last year I was in China and I worked Christmas Day, so it was a very sad day indeed. I remember Skyping them that night and the feeling of loneliness and missing out was awful. At the time, I promised myself I would be at home next Christmas.

But il be in Mexico and I WON’T be working. Already it’s better than last years.

I just wish the days would hurry up.

Aisling