Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

It is Christmas Eve here in China. I have changed the time/date stamp on Blogger, so I think it will give the accurate time on my postings now...if I did it right!

The streets here on Shamian Island are bustling with activity. There is a very festive attitude, but an unusual interpretation of how to celebrate Christmas Eve for an American. It is more like a sense of New Years Eve than Christmas Eve, with street vendors on every corner selling light up necklaces and wands for kids and for some reason, the big thing is to wear this headband with light up horns on the top, like devil horns. Not sure what that is all about, but everyone seems to be in a very good mood. It would be interesting to know how many people out celebrating are actually of the Christian religion and really celebrate Christmas.

Speaking of the Christian religion, Tom, Willow and I attempted to go to a Christian Church here on the island for a Christmas Eve service. The church was a mad house! We got there about 15 minutes prior to when the service started and there were literally hundreds of people waiting outside that could not fit in the church! We stayed and listened to some of the service and had a lot of very nice conversations with people in the crowd. Everyone was very nice and welcoming and interested in where we were from and about our adoption of Willow. We spoke to a man out in the crowd who is with the church and he says about 5-10 percent of China population is Christian, with only about 5 percent actively participating. According to him about half of the people who where at the church tonight were first timers. The actual sanctuary holds approximately 300 people and there is an "overflow room" that holds another 100 and both of them were completely full as well as us and a couple hundred of our closest friends outside on the grounds. It got so crowded that they had to close the gates to the grounds of the church because they were worried about crowd control. Even though we didn't get to participate in the service, it was nice to be there. We got to hear many Christmas carols in English and in Chinese and they had a wonderful choir. We got the opportunity to speak to a lot of locals as well.

Willow did amazingly well with the crowd. She was much more relaxed than she would have been just a few days ago. So many people were interested and making a fuss over her, it would have been easy for her to get overwhelmed, but she did really well taking it all in stride. When it did get to be too much, she quickly looked to me for refuge and once in my arms, quickly settled down and relaxed. All of these are very positive signs. Little by little she is coming around. This afternoon we went out with another mother and daughter from our travel group. Her adopted daughter is 1 month younger than Willow and from the same orphanage, so they have likely been together their whole lives. But today was the first day that Willow interacted with her. They were playing together and not only did it get some smiles out of Willow, but a whole hearted laugh! Nothing could possibly be a better present than seeing her begin to relax and be comfortable. Everyday we see a little more of her true personality...and it is beautiful!

Tomorrow for Christmas we are going on the Pearl River cruise for dinner with 2 other adoptive families in our group. Hopefully the babies do well on the boat! We miss being with the rest of our family for Christmas, but this one will certainly hold many memories that no other ever will!

Best wishes for a very Merry Christmas......
.....Love, Tom, Judy & Willow