As expats, I feel we don’t share enough experiences with Chinese people as much as we should. We often live in a different world from them and don’t take the time to explain our traditions to those we meet every day. This is particularly the case with our ayis.
My ayi confessed to me one day: “I don’t know what Christmas means. It’s about giving gifts to the kids, right?” Hm, that sounded a bit too far from my own conception of Christmas, so I decided to take a little of my time to tell her everything about Christmas traditions and values: love, sharing, forgiving, peace.
Where to start? For us, it’s an opportunity to gather with family members as you do for Chinese New Year. For the kids, it’s a creative period: they decorate the Christmas tree, write a letter to Santa Claus with a gift wish list, put their shoes around the Christmas tree and wait until the following day to discover the gifts they were looking for. I shared my own story how I was in charge of decorating the house and had to prepare a little show for my parents and grandparents. Some incredible memories!
Then I told her how important planning Christmas dinner was. The delicacies such as foie gras, baked oysters, smoked salmon, lobster, chestnut-filled turkey… we love to prepare. Speaking about foie gras I asked her: “Have you ever tried it?” She said “Yes, I know it but I never tried it. I won’t like it…” I encouraged my ayi to try a piece of foie gras, and she discovered she loved it!.
It reminded me about ayis I have have taught in the past. Most of them initially didn’t want to taste the western food I taught them to prepare. But after few classes, all psychological barriers fall, one even confessed me one day: “Now I’m making Western food at home. My huband complains I’m becoming a laowai!”
I felt she had so much interest in foie gras that we decided we would prepare one together. What a lovely experience. She loved it and was so proud she made it. We then agreed we would prepare a nice dessert together for Christmas eve: Vacherin made of meringues, ice cream, and raspberries.
As you understand, this experience was very fulfilling for me, and a discovery for her. My Christmas preparation had a different taste this year!
I hope, you will also have a chance to do so and feel you enjoyed the holidays in a new way !
Merry Christmas and happy new new !