Sunday, December 22, 2013

Singing in a Choir + Harp Performance - Countdown to Christmas - Day 22

Today, the 22nd day of the Countdown to Christmas, was focused on the harp performance and singing at two church services.

Sophia, her harp teacher (Denise), and the organist playing
"Once in a Royal David's City" while the choir sings.

Sophia performed five songs on the harp, and did a wonderful job. Her teacher said she was "Perfect! Absolutely flawless." The organist said he was so impressed with how much her skill has improved in the couple years since she started playing the harp.

Both Olivia and Sophia sang "Jessye's Carol" with the combined children's and adult's choirs. They got to wear the nice robes for singing on special occasions.

It looks like Olivia has no hands in this picture.
Didn't realize the sleeves were so long.

"Jessye's Carol" is such a beautiful song and to hear the voices of the children and adults alike is so moving. It's one of my favorite parts of the service.

The girls singing "Jessye's Carol" during one of the services.

After church, I visited my Mom who is in the hospital. She is doing much better than she was on Friday when Olivia and I saw her.

Afterwards, I went to her home and picked things up a bit in preparation for Christmas Day. She would like us to go ahead with Christmas as she planned it...even though she most likely will not be at home.

She also asked that I wrap the remaining 11 gifts that needed to be wrapped. So, I brought the gifts, wrapping paper, and bows home so I could do that.


Advent Reading

Matthew 1:21 - She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus—because he will save his people from their sins.


Christmas Joke

What did Father Christmas say to his wife when he looked out of the window? (Looks like reindeer)


Christmas Fact

We learned about how Christmas is celebrated in China since that is where Sophia and Olivia were born. The information comes from that has a page about Christmas in China:

Chinese New Year is the Chinese version of Christmas in China, but many Chinese get in the holiday spirit at Christmas in China. Christmas is not an official holiday in China, so most offices, schools and shops remain open.

Department stores are decorated with Christmas trees, twinkling lights, and festive decorations starting in late November. Store clerks often wear Santa hats and green and red accessories. It’s not uncommon to see leftover Christmas decorations still decking the halls well into February or hear Christmas music at cafes in July.

Some families opt to have a small Christmas tree during Christmas in China. Few homes have Christmas lights strung outside or candles in the windows. Malls, banks and restaurants often have Christmas displays, Christmas trees, and lights. Large shopping malls help usher in Christmas in China with tree lighting ceremonies.

It’s not uncommon to see a Santa Claus at malls and hotels across Asia. Children can often have their picture taken with Santa and some department stores coordinate a home visit from a gift-bearing Santa. While Chinese children do not leave out cookies and milk for Santa or write a note requesting gifts, many children enjoy a visit with Santa.

In China and Taiwan, Santa is called 聖誕老人 (shèngdànlǎorén) and, instead of elves, he is often accompanied in Taiwan with his sisters, young women dressed in elf or red and white skirts. In Hong Kong, Santa is called Lan Khoong or Dun Che Lao Ren.

One of Santa's sisters in Guangzhou, China.
She is holding Sophia a few days after she was adopted.
(December 2001.)

A variety of performances, including touring productions of The Nutcracker are often staged in major cities during the Christmas season in China.

Shopping sprees in the weeks leading up to Christmas are popular in China. A growing number of Chinese celebrate on Christmas Eve by eating Christmas dinners with friends. Exchanging Christmas cards with close friends and family is becoming more popular as is exchanging small, inexpensive gifts.

Gift hampers, which include edible Christmas treats, are on sale at many hotels and specialty stores during Christmas in China. Christmas cards, gift wrap and decorations are easily found at large markets, hypermarkets, and small shops.

In China again around Christmas adopting Olivia.
Sophia is almost 3 years old and Olivia is 10 months old.
(December 2003.)

Traditional Christmas dinners are readily available at hotel restaurants and Western restaurants during Christmas in China. Supermarket chains catering to foreigners sell all the trimmings needed for a home-cooked Christmas feast.

An East-meets-West Christmas dinner can also be had during Christmas in China. 八宝鸭 (bā bǎo yā, eight treasures duck) is the Chinese version of a stuffed turkey. It is a whole duck stuffed with diced chicken, smoked ham, peeled shrimp, fresh chestnuts, bamboo shoots, dried scallops and mushrooms stir-fried with slightly undercooked rice, soy sauce, ginger, spring onions, white sugar and rice wine.

While most Chinese opt to overlook Christmas’s religious roots, a sizable minority do head to church for services in a variety of languages, including Chinese, English, and French. There were some 16 million Chinese Christians in China in 2005, according to the Chinese government. Christmas services are held at an array of state-run churches in China and at houses of worship throughout Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.

While government offices, restaurants, and shops are open on Christmas day, international schools and some embassies and consulates are closed on Dec. 25 in China. Christmas Day (Dec. 25) and Boxing Day (Dec. 26) are public holidays in Hong Kong in which government offices and businesses are closed. Macau recognizes Christmas as a holiday and most businesses are closed. In Taiwan, Christmas coincides with Constitution Day (行憲紀念日). Taiwan used to observe Dec. 25 as a day off. Currently, Dec. 25 is a regular working day in Taiwan.

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