I don’t read or speak Mandarin and a few years ago in early December an e-mail arrived that was in Mandarin and there was a link to a video and other attachments.
Since I learned the hard way years earlier that you don’t open an attachment from an e-mail when you don’t know where it’s from, I waited until Anchee read it and said it was from one of our daughter’s grandfathers in China.
Inside the attached file were twelve virtual Christmas cards in English with flashing Christmas lights in winter settings. There was also a link to a video where people in China were being asked questions about celebrating Christmas.
Daughter’s grandpa lives in Shanghai, and the city’s shopping malls were decorated for Christmas. It seems that many Shanghai Chinese adopted the Christmas holiday and take it seriously even giving gifts.
One Chinese man in the linked video said, “Perhaps because Shanghai is quite an international city, we attach much importance to this festival and celebrate it in a grander manner compared to other cities in China.”
A young Chinese woman said, “If you live overseas for a long time, you will know that this is the time to reunite with your friends and exchange Christmas presents with those you know.”
The twelve virtual Christmas cards our daughter’s grandfather attached to his e-mail said:
- “Remember… Through the year, be thankful for what you have…”
- If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep… You are richer than 75% of the world.”
- “If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish some place, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.”
- “If you woke up this morning with more health than illness… You are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.”
- “If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation… You are ahead of 500 million people in the world.”
- “If you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death… You are more blessed than three billion people in the world.”
- “If your parents are still alive and still married… You are very rare, even in the United States.”
- “If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful… You are blessed, because the majority can, but most do not.”
- “If you can hold someone’s hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder… You are blessed because you can offer healing touch.”
- “If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing that someone was thinking of you, and furthermore … You are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read at all.”
- “Have a good day, count your blessings, and pass this along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are. You are wished a Merry Christmas.”
- “Remember … throughout the year, be thankful for what you have been blessed with …”
This e-mail came from a grandfather that fought on the winning side of China’s Civil War (1925 – 1949), and then he held an important position in China’s Communist Party until he retired at 67 (as the 1982 Chinese Constitution requires).
Country Digest says that Shanghai has a population of more than 24-million people, and only 2.6-percent (624k) are Protestants and Catholics.
There are Chinese and expatriates who celebrate Christmas in Beijing too.
Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.
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