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  Beijing Scene

Christmas Comrade

Call me old-fashioned, but since when did China so "quanxinquanyi" de 的 (wholeheartedly) start embracing the "shengdanjingshen" (Christmas spirit)? It seems to have happened overnight. Chalk it up to "feisufazhan" 飞速发展 (breakneck economic development), and the fact that every Christmas light in the world is now produced in sweatshops in Shenzhen. Believe it or not, the word "Shengdanjie", which has come to mean Christmas, formerly referred to the birth of Confucius. Next thing you know they'll start eating turkey on the fourth Thursday of November and dyeing Chaoyang Lake green for Saint Patrick's Day (although nobody would notice the difference).

Whether we like it or not, Christmas has permeated China faster than fake beanie babies, and is most likely here to stay. Like any holiday, Christmas has its own unique set of festive rituals, joyful customs, special holiday delicacies, and traditional songs that make it what it is (oh yeah, and then there's the religious significance). Christmas has been imported to China practically lock, stock and barrel from the West. But China is a unique country with over 5,000 years of history. That's why we need to have a "Zhongguo tese de Shengdanjie" (Christmas with Chinese characteristics). Being that most of this Christmas stuff is new to China, the Comrade feels a responsibility to his fellow countrymen to offer suggestions on how we can assimilate Christmas, thus making it more familiar to the masses.

Typical stocking stuffers should include high-heeled combat boots, fake fur-lined microskirts, cigarettes, knitting needles, and cellphones. China's "Shengdan Laoren" (Santa Claus) must be a Santa with Chinese characteristics. The Chinese Santa should hail from Heilongjiang province instead of the North Pole. He should be dressed like a retired old cadre, his little helpers should be Cantonese instead of dwarves, and he should drive a pedicab (sanlunche 三轮车) pulled by panda bears. Instead of a great big white beard, he should have a salt -and-pepper Fu Manchu goatee. Rather than leaving cookies out for him, children should leave him a bottle of baijiu (moonshine). Since the only chimneys in China lead to either a factory furnace or a power plant, China's Santa should gain access to apartment buildings through either the elevator shaft or the stairwell.

It is also necessary to rewrite some familiar Christmas carols and poems to be more appropriate for use in China. Here is an example of a Christmas poem with Chinese characteristics:

'Twas the night before Christmas, and all through Beijing
Not a creature was stirring, within the Fourth Ring
The wazi 袜子 (stockings) were hung, all through the hutong 胡同 (alleyways)
Laobaixing 老百姓 (the Masses) hoping this Christmas, would be more than putong 普通 (average)
The children were sleeping twelve to a room
In hopes that Saint Nick, would be there quite soon
And Ma in her qipao 旗袍 (cheongsam)
And Pa in faux leather vest
And Grandma and Grandpa, had settled down for a rest
Then what to my bloodshot eyes should appear
But a flying 1.20 taxi, belching smog from the rear

Neither lively nor quick, the chuzuche 出租车 (taxi) did go
With the driver repeating, Zenmozou? 怎么走? (Fiddlesticks! Where do I go)? So up to the apartment roof the taxi soon flew
Stocked full of baijiu guoji mingpai (international name brand products), shouji (mobile telephones) and the old geezer too
Down the staircase he stumbled, getting lost at each turn
Dressed in torn tattered greys, and hair sticking up firm
He spoke not a word, but went straight to the grog
Erguotou 二锅头 (rotgut) soon rendering his vision agog
And taking the gifts from his woven striped sack
He fell down the stairs, nearly breaking his back
He quickly came to and stood up on his feet
Thinking he'd really like something to eat
And remembering a hefan 盒饭 (box lunch) in the car that he'd saved
He climbed up to the roof for the food that he craved
But I heard him exclaim just before he was gone
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a wan'an 晚安 (good night!)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Millennium from the Comrade!

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