Monday, December 26, 2011

The Boxing Day Paradox

The fact that no one knows why Boxing day is called what it is shows how old it is and that it has lost its meaning. Traditionally you spend Christmas with family and Boxing day with friends.
But in the last four or five years America's tradition of Black Friday has crept in. You can tell that the major British stores have hired American advertising companies; going all out with early morning sales and loss leader items.
So there in lies the paradox. Normally stores are closed on Boxing day, but now some aren't. They have huge advertisements that the stores that do stay closed feel like they are fading into oblivion, so they advertise Boxing Day sales too. But, they stay closed. Their advertisements say the sales are the 26th and 27th and on the very next line it says the store will be closed on Christmas and Boxing day. So when you go to the shopping center all of the stores have up banners and decorations for the sale, some just don't have any lights on.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Teaching Christmas

The thing about London is that it is an international city. I ended up spending Christmas with Chinese friends. The thing is, in China, Christmas is just another holiday that gives stores an excuse to have a sale. So it was my job to expose all the traditions and nostalgia. Songs like "I want a hippopotamus for Christmas" and "All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth" produced laughs every time they played. The movie "The Christmas story" does a good. Job of bundling up and showing all the traditions but the Chinese restaurant scene at the end "while funny, was also racist". The student village I lived in had cleaned out during the summer and I took the old Christmas tree and some lights that did not pass the new electoral codes (they were not LED lights) but we had no ornaments. One of the projects we did for the students was to make the salt dough ornaments. So, even though I had never done it before, we did a new tradition of making our own ornaments too. They ranged from snowmen and gingerbread men to sonic the hedgehog (apparently hedgehogs are Chinese winter animals) to a little more phallic.
A normal thing to have for Christmas dinner here is what I would call "Turducken". (A chicken inside a duck inside a turkey) something very redneck in the U.S. But here the name "three bird roast" makes it sound so much more posh. To be honest I couldn't tell the difference between the chicken and the turkey but the stuffing was good.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Playing Santa

Every year the student village I live in has a Christmas party. This year since I am a warden I thought it would be funny if I was Santa. For at least the last eight years it was something no one else wanted to do. Originally I had thought that I would just be dressed up to collect the secret Santa presents, but the other wardens kept asking how I would react to people sitting on my lap.
While building the decorations they decided to build Santa's Grotto. I decided to use it as a place to stash secret Santa presents. While dressing up as Santa I used two pillows to try to add some girth to my frame. Trying to navigate through a party with that much extra padding on helped me as a reminder that I never wanted to get that size. It was just too hard to move easily.
After passing out the presents all the Chinese and Indian students wanted to have their picture taken with me. The best I could gather was that this was their first Christmas and they wanted a picture to send home to show the local culture. That's all well and good but once you put on the costume people see you as a character instead of you the person. This led to some grabby hands during the photos. After a half hours of taking photos with different students I finally changed out of the costume to enjoy the party with everyone else.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


For my Halloween costume I wore a mustache. Everyone was making the comment that I was just getting a head start on Movember (growing a mustache during the month of November to raise awareness/money for prostate/testicular cancer). So I thought, what the heck. I've never tried growing a mustache. At work a co-worker was also doing it and convinced me to join their group. Hey now instead of just growing a mustache I was doing it for a cause. People would donate to our group on the website so it showed that I was helping but in reality I wasn't soliciting anyone. (Our group did do a little over £1000 in donations though.)
At the end of the month, the general consensus was I looked like a porn star or Freddie Mercury, neither were images I really wanted to portray. Not to mention the scratchy feeling, feeling the hairs touching, or the extra water every time I used a drinking fountain. So I don't think I'll be repeating the process.
But, before shaving it off I couldn't help but try different styles. I first started by trying to wax it using hair wax. Bad idea, it made my eyes water and burned every time I shaved off a little more no matter how much I thought I washed it out of the whiskers. I also tried "Charlie Chaplin" and "Godwin's law" styles. Yep clean shaven looks best on me.