What a wonderful Christmas in Shanghai. We are so fortunate to have a large “family” of Ex-pats here who host so many wonderful events and look out for each other. The season started with a “Stars and Stockings” party at Jane’s house. A fabulous night of laughter, 80’s dancing, great food and booze.
The next day, Isabelle and Oliver were at the Shanghai Expat Association’s Christmas Party at the 4 Seasons in Downtown Shanghai. Even Santa came to visit them there! Kids from all nationalities from all over Shanghai were enjoying the festivities – so many crafts that the kids did not get through them all. They came home laden with home made Christmas tree ornaments, gingerbread houses and presents from Santa.
On Christmas Eve, we were all at Marie and Tim’s house – with the same lovely group of people that we would be enjoying the rest of Christmas with. This was a lovely relaxed affair and we were home by 7:30 pm ready to continue exciting the kids about an imminent visit!
Christmas morning the children woke up at 6:30am. We could hear squeals of excitement and giggles as they opened their stockings together. They managed to contain themselves until 7:30 and then came in to “wake” us up. We had a wonderful relaxing morning opening presents, playing with toys and enjoying a leisurely breakfast.
At 12.45 we walked around the corner to Lin and Nick’s house as they were hosting Christmas Dinner. Nick works for Intercontinental Hotel group and they were catering it, so no-one had the burden of preparing the meal. The staff had completely taken over the kitchen (using the garage as a staging area) and had even set up a bar!
We were 5 families in 1 house – 22 of us, including all the kids. We had a fabulous meal – 5 hours at the table, laughing all the time. The kids managed about 45 minutes of eating before they were all off playing together. Again, it was so relaxing – no cooking or clearing up to worry about. When you are so far from home with no family around, this could not have been a better celebration.
After a brief 90 minute re-charge back at home, we were off to more friends – Suzanne and Brian’s, for the evening. Another fantastic get together.
Boxing Day, and it was our turn to host. The morning was a flurry of activity; cooking sausage rolls, legs of lamb and preparing for 30 people at our house at 3:00pm. Our wonderful Ayi, Angela, was a huge help and stayed through the afternoon to help with the kids. We had set up a craft activity area for them downstairs and some other friends had brought their Wii system for the older children to play upstairs. While they were occupied we played our traditional Boxing Day “Dirty Santa” game. Absolutely hilarious to see the tacky, gaudy gifts that people had found for less than 50RMB (£5/$7)!! It was the perfect wind-down from a very hectic Christmas and we were cleared up before 10:00pm.
All in all, for a very different Christmas, it was perfect.