Christmas Guangzhou, China December 25th 1991.
My parents were teaching English at Sun Yat-Sen University of Medical Sciences and living in the foreign students dormitory. But another aspect of their job was that they were there as part of the Lutheran “Missionary” program and as a Deacon, Dad happened to be the ranking Lutheran in the whole city and thus lead Sunday services at a big hotel downtown.
This meant that he was under extra scrutiny by the Communist Party. The party allowed foreigners to have religious services, but it was illegal for them to invite Chinese citizens to them and that included any activities related to their religion. Well of course my father was not one to proselytize (it’s a Lutheran thing) but our friends June and Christine, who also worked in the English department, were always interested in learning more about western culture so when holidays came round they often joined us when they could. Despite the party rules.
This particular Christmas was quite special since I was there, so June and Christine and one of our African friends (the majority of the students in the foreign students dorm were from Ghana) were over for dinner. June and Christine really wanted us to behave (as much as possible) as we would normally do for our Christmas at home but we were also forbidden from decorating our rooms with any religious symbols so my parents had the idea to make a gingerbread house.
It took some planning. Mom got most of the ingredients by putting in an order with one of the other teachers who had a recent trip to Hong Kong. This was a common way to get western items not available at the “Friendship Stores”. Mom could then make the gingerbread and the frosting and Dad was in charge of designing the thing. Well… as you can see it was a fine effort but… not much to look at. We sure had fun though.
Merry Christmas everyone ()