The Advent of Christmas

Nicholas Quirke was lured into thoughts of Christmas earlier than he usually liked on 1 December 2020 with requests from the school asking him to do some Christmas workshops and by Peng, who wanted to put up the Christmas tree. He was surprised too that Christmas was celebrated in any form in China and in some small way mourned that the purely commercial aspects of the observance proliferated in the East. It should not have been such a revelation as throughout his year in the country he had witnessed that the Chinese love to celebrate and taking the Western worlds biggest festival to sell cakes, and coffee and trinkets seemed an acceptable gesture. It was imperative that he collect the cake today and his plans therefore wove around returning to the school, which did not open till 2.30pm. Once lunch of a Chinese style burger and a cold noodle dish was out of the way he set of on another errand for Peng to buy some exotic bread, to be followed up by collecting the cake from the school which, was roughly in the same direction. With the ever increasing drop in temperature he wrapped himself up, even accepting the wearing of a snood around his neck as a permissible look. The bread, a sweet scented osmanthus and pear loaf and a wholewheat one with cranberries and almonds, was easily purchased. He had arrived earlier than expected, but there still wasn’t enough time to sit down for a tea, and walking seemed the best option. He passed by Dongden Park which had been the first parks he had visited when he originally arrived in Beijing and set him off on his parking exploration. It had been memorable for being the first occasion he had seen the popular sport of public dancing as well as being notable as a cruising spot for single males. He was disappointed that there was no twirling going on but there was a plethora of men in groups and some solitary prowling of the purlieus. He climbed the hill in the middle and there was a large gathering where some volunteers were promoting safe sex on World AIDS day with the Slogan ‘AIDS Another Pandemic’. It was a reminder of how devastating the disease had been in the 80’s and he remembered the many friends who had lost their lives in those early years. The school had opened when he arrived and he was able to retrieve the two cakes. He arranged dates and an agenda for the Christmas workshops with Jenny and armed with the abandoned produce he returned home. It was tradition for Peng that the christmas tree went up on the first of December and thus Nicholas found himself drawn into preparing for the festive season in a foreign land. The day finished with an inevitable film viewing and the fare on offer was a quirky pastiche of the horror genre, ‘Scare Package’. With the sense that he had redeemed himself and full of the seasons goodwill he shut his eyes on the day.


  1. Very nice decorations, never seen trees like that before, maybe I need to get out more! 😂x

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