My fun memories about Christmas

Today is Christmas Eve.  Tis the season to be jolly.  Merry Christmas to everyone!

Today I’m not going to ramble about saving money or retiring early.  I’d like to share some of my fun memories about Christmas.

First taste of Christmas:

When I was in the college in Beijing in mid 1980s, that was the first time I heard about Christmas.  As part of the English course materials, I learnt about the western holidays, like Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc.

There was an English teacher who came from US. He was mainly teaching the graduate students.  But once a week, he did one cool lecture, which was open to all.  I loved that weekly session.  He covered a wide range of topics: American holidays, traditions, schools, politics, history, and everything.

He brought over a slide projector, which was much better than the commonly used overhead projector.  The slide projector used the 35mm films in colors, while the overhead projector used the A4-size transparent films in black and white.  It was great to see how Americans celebrated Christmas in color pictures.

The first time I celebrated Christmas was the year 1988.  At that time, I was attending an English training class.  My English teachers Jimmy and his wife hosted a Christmas party.  They came from Quebec Canada.  All the trainees including me learnt to sing the Christmas carols, and got to know the related stories. The Christmas tree was lovely, so were other decorations.  It was a fun time.

Christmas in Ashland, Ohio:

In 1996, I spent the first Christmas in Ashland, Ohio.  The decorations of houses, buildings and churches in that town were so pretty.  The campus of Ashland University is very beautiful.  The beauty varies by season.  Around Christmas, the cute college Chapel was sparkling.

I was sharing a house with other graduate students from China.  Our landlord was very nice.  He drove his GMC cargo van, put a small mattress into the van, so all of us could sit on it.

We went to the affluent neighborhood that is close to the golf course.  The decorations of each big house and yard were beyond stunning.  The landlord told us: “This is where the rich people live in Ashland.”  At that time, I’m sure each of us wanted to get rich overnight.  Who doesn’t want to live in that neighborhood?

Over the years, I joined some American friends’ family dinner on Christmas in Ashland.  The delicious smell of turkey, the Christmas carols, smiles, and everything is still fresh in my mind.  Thank you, my friends, for your hospitality and friendship.  I miss you all, and wish you and your family the best.

Yeah, Ashland is my hometown.

Flying on Christmas Eve:

In 2007, on Christmas Eve, I was in Beijing with my kid.  I could feel the holiday spirit everywhere.  The hotel I stayed at was fully geared for Christmas: the lit-up tree, the lobby decorated with boughs of holly, the staff wearing the Santa Claus hats, and the sweet music.

Our United flight back to US was taking off late in the afternoon.  That airplane was probably 10% occupied. The flight was smooth and comfortable.  There was one old Chinese passenger.  He was always getting up, and wandering around in the aisle.  That made the flying attendant uneasy.  Each time, he was told: “Sir, please go back to your seat and sit down.”

The airplane captain and staff were very nice.  I was very thankful they brought my kid and me back home safely for that Christmas.  That was my best Christmas so far.

When we celebrate Christmas, there are people who are still working hard, away from their beloved families, and serve us or our friends/relatives in the air and on the ground.  Please don’t forget to say “Thank you” to them.  Thank you, and thank you.

We landed at Chicago on the late afternoon.  It was also Christmas Eve in US, due to the time difference.  I thought probably not many people were flying at that late hour.  I was wrong.  The airport was still packed as usual.  There were a lot of people who were doing the last-minute travel as I did.

Is the grass greener over there?

At my home in central Ohio, I like all our neighbors.  They are very nice.

On every Christmas, the neighbor across the street has the best decorations on our street.  The two cute vinyl trees (with green, blue or red) are lit up at the front porch.  The real trees are dangled with those colorful balls.  The trim of the whole house (including windows and flower beds) are equipped with lights.

Every evening, I love sitting at my living room with a cup of hot water, and enjoying their lights.  Hey, it’s so pretty, free and fun to watch, and I don’t have to put any hard work there.  I’m sure it took a lot of time and energy to put those lights in place.

On the other hand, our house is so plain, not much decorations except a Christmas wreath.  I’m a lousy neighbor in terms of holiday decorations.

Anyway, last year, right before Christmas, I was thinking, eh, I got to drive around the whole neighborhood, and see if there were better decorations than my neighbor’s.  The grass is always greener over there, right?

I spent 20-30 minutes exploring the community.  You know what?  I found out my neighbor has the best holiday decorations in the whole community.  I told myself: the grass here is the greenest, and appreciate it.

That’s all the fun memories I have about Christmas.

Dear readers, what are your fun memories about Christmas?  Did you like Christmas when you were a kid?  Why?

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6 Responses

  1. Katrin says:

    One Christmas at my grandparents’ house the Christmas tree caught fire and my uncle and my dad had to rush it out – that was quite an exciting Christmas for us kids :-). We’ve just put our tree up and our now going to decorate it. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and all your readers!


    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Katrin, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

      It must be very different experience for adults and kids, when the Christmas tree caught fire. That’s cool to set up the Christmas tree and decorate it with family. I love the holiday decorations, and music.

  2. Hi Helen. Happy Holidays. We are a bit like you. Our house decorations are pretty minimal. Just a string of white lights around the pillar at our front door. We look out our picture window at our neighbor who has a professional come and decorate her house. White lights up in big trees. It’s pretty cool, not too overdone, but impressive to see big trees lit up to the top. We usually travel and spend Christmas at my wifes sister. It’s pretty relaxed. A lot of food, drinking, movies, games, etc. We enjoy it. Tom

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Tom, Happy Holidays. Glad to hear you folks had a great time at your wife’s sister’s place. Wow, white lights up in the big tree, that must be very pretty. Yeah, I like watching other families’ holiday decorations.

  3. GYM says:

    Some people go a little crazy with the decorations. I think having it minimal is a good idea. My husband’s friend spent $500 to have his home decorated with lights so he doesn’t’ have to do it! Have you seen the projector LED lights that shine on the house? It seems easy to set up, you just put the little light so it faces your house and then it has red or green lights.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi GYM, I like to see the lights, but too lazy to decorate my own house. $500 on the decorations, that’s quite an expense. Yeah, I saw my neighbor also used the projector LED lights. That’s cool, and is probably easier to set up.

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