Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Eve

Jen here. Two weeks before Christmas, Roy and I intentionally planned for Christmas. This is our first year celebrating Christmas "away from home" (far from Ohio and Michigan, the base camps for our family). We didn't want it to slip by unnoticed or just doing whatever. We want to set a precedent for each Christmas to come, so that someday when we have a little Roy Jr, we'll already have God-honoring traditions for this awesome holiday.

So we made a plan: Christmas eve we would dress up and eat out at a nice restaurant (a romantic evening as husband and wife), a tradition we hope to continue even when we have kids and when we're old! After the meal, we planned to ride the Star Ferry to Kowloon side and look at the lights on the Skyscrapers, enjoying a quiet evening on the harbor. Aww...

Before I continue with our plan, I'll tell you how Christmas eve really played out. As the days until Christmas decreased, each check at a nice restaurant left us thinking, "What is up with HK at Christmas?" It seems that all nice restaurants throw their "a la carte menu" out the door and charge you mega $ per person for a set meal. Hmm... We decided to eat in (Roy offered to cook a delicious Jenny-meal). Roy whipped up an amazing dinner with broccoli, pasta and chicken. We had a candlelight dinner on the roof (lest I exaggerate the evening, I'll let you know that earlier that day I was grumpy and irritable toward Roy, which hurt him, but he still made dinner...and our candle wouldn't stay Roy had to tend to it to keep it going...but God is gracious, even in my sin, to reconcile us in time).

After dinner, we got ready and headed for the Star Ferry via a little green mini-bus. I wore a dress and a coat with flipflops...and later on had to take off my coat. The weather was warm! Near the ferry we encountered a Harmonica band comprised of six 20-somethings playing all different sized harmonicas to the tunes of Christmas music(see the first picture above). How fun!

From the ferry, we gazed at the lights on the buildings (see photos). Pretty neat...not as awe-inspiring as Richmond Beach Park's ocean and mountains in Washington, but it'll do. On the other side, we encountered thousands of people! Literally, thousands! We planned to sit along the quiet, peaceful harbor and gaze at the lights (notice I didn't say stars, but lights on the buildings), but it was swarming with people! See photo...and know it was like that all over. I guess that's what you get with 7 million people and two days of public holiday.

In short, we made plans...and deviated from some of them, but still managed to have a nice evening enjoying HK and the many people who live in it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

End of Year Chess

Jen here. Lots of chess--end of classes, tournament and now holiday camps. The above photo is from the "End of Year Tournament" held last Saturday. Roy was the official tournament director--he did a great job. Twenty-two kids in attendance, one Roy and two assistants (me and Pierre). It turned out well. The three kids in the picture all go to ISF, our biggest chess school. And check out their sweet trophies--the star trophies are my favorite so far. Roy and Pierre did most of the Chess stuff, and I was in charge of the kids between rounds (aka: babysitting and concessions). It was a challenge in many ways...but also fun. I enjoy being around kids and getting to know them. They are so cute. And they are little people, with thoughts, attitude, feelings.

Roy is busy this week (Mon-Wed) with Chess camps. He has two potential candidates for chess coaches, and they are helping Roy with the camps. What a great way for Roy to see them interact with the kids and teach the kids!

On a different note, Roy and I noticed a strange phenomenon happening at restaurants on Christmas eve and Christmas: Their "a la carte" menu gets thrown out the door and they charge big prices per person for a set meal. Hmm... strange. Is this because people don't invite people to their homes for meals, but to restaurants? Do all the restaurants do this? One restaurant's set menu for Christmas eve cost $1500 per person($200 US per person). Crazy.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Signs of Christmas

Jen here. Christmas is coming. Crazy. I realized this a week ago, and decided to actively convince myself of that fact. Even though the weather is warm, even though it is not going to snow, even though I didn't drink my fresh apple cider all through fall, even though we didn't see beautiful leaves turning colors--Christmas is still coming. I spoke with one woman from Australia who lives in Hong Kong who said, "It just doesn't feel like Christmas. Our Christmas is during the summer, so we usually have a nice breakfast BBQ, a cold lunch and spend the day in the pool." Wow. How do I convince myself it is Christmas? We listen to Christmas music online. :) I bought two poinsettias (you always see them in churches at Christmas...and they are everywhere here too!). We put the wrapped gifts mailed to us on a shelf. We're buying gifts for other people. I'm drinking tea/hot chocolate daily. :)

The packages are arriving! Oh how fun it is to receive mail! The box Roy is holding is one package that we've received. Three others preceded this box of gifts. Thank you! :)

Here are just some of the many poinsettias everywhere. Beautiful. This is in Kennedy Town.

And at a nearby mall, we are greeted by SpongeBob Squarepants! Happy Spongey Christmas, the sign says. Inside and outside the mall, SpongeBob and company are everywhere, making spirits bright. Ha.

We have a plan for Christmas--Morning as a couple and in the afternoon a Christmas dinner with guests. It should be a fun time--I look forward to it! We are sad to be away from family, but this gives us a chance to establish our own holiday traditions. Should be interesting. :)