Christmas Eve (and New Year’s Eve) – Taiwan (2013)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs I finish this post, it is New Year’s Eve. Tomorrow is a holiday and there are three students here to hang out and see in the new year. A couple of them will spend the night and welcome New Year’s Day in our apartment.

Last week at this time, it was Christmas Eve. In Taiwan, Christmas is not a holiday. So on Christmas Day, I taught a two hour writing class in the morning, had a couple of office hours, and then taught a general English class for two hours in the late afternoon. (Sorry, no photo of me teaching in my Santa hat.)

On Christmas Eve day (Tuesday), I also taught and had meetings, but in spite of the work schedule, we still decided to have a special gathering for Christmas Eve at our apartment. We had a ready-made guest list. Let me explain.

Two weeks ago, I started meeting with a group of young ladies who were interested in working on their English writing. We had our first meeting on December 11 to explore our ideas and make plans. Some of the ideas include writing prompts, reading and commenting on each others’ writing projects, seeing and writing about a movie, and other ideas that we dream up along the way.

With high enthusiasm, eight young ladies agreed that we should do this on a weekly basis, so on the 18th we moved to another coffee shop for our second meeting. At that meeting, we had sign-up sheets for the next two Tuesdays, the Eves of Christmas and New Year’s.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn Christmas Eve, we had 8 for dinner, not the exact 8 that started out that first night, but our group is growing, and not everyone could make the holiday gatherings. But 8 for Christmas Eve was pretty nice. As my husband put the finishing touches on dinner, the girls put up the table top Christmas tree and decorated it. They had each brought a gift for an exchange. It was great fun, as everyone ended up with gifts that suited their interests. Santa brought writing notebooks for everyone, too!

Between Christmas and New Year’s, the main core of students in this group decided that they wanted to become an official student organization in the school. Since I’m already meeting with this group on a weekly basis, it’s no extra work for me. But it’s nice to get credit for being an advisor to an English Writing Club at a Taiwanese university. It turns out we needed 20 students to sign that they were interested in the idea. I had two sign up sheets with 20 each, so I could offer them to students at either side of the room if they were interested. I was shocked to not only get all forty spots filled, but have other students still asking if they could sign. Maybe I can start a movement. Prior to this, English writing has been a bit of a challenge on our campus, so as we go into 2014, there is an exciting shift. My work as a writing teacher here is starting to pay off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo tonight, on New Year’s Eve, we only have three visitors. But they have taken down the tree, watched some English comedy video, and are now working on a jigsaw puzzle. Two of them will curl up on our couches and spend the night (the 3rd lives next door). I get to see in the new year with my husband and three young women who are as interested in writing as I am. It’s going to be a good year!

One of the gift exchange photos

One of the gift exchange photos

Opening writing notebooks from Santa

Opening writing notebooks from Santa

Jigsaw puzzle on New Year's Eve

Jigsaw puzzle on New Year’s Eve

New Year, New Beginnings (Music Theme for December 31)

Like any year, 2013 has had its ups and downs. At the moment, it seems the scale is tipped in the direction of down, but that’s just my current story. And in the end, it doesn’t matter, because 2014 is really coming. I can say good-bye to 2013 and embrace the possibilities of 2014.

Sometimes, it seems we put a little too much stock in the new year, hoping that some magical “reset” button is going to make things better. But I know there is nothing magical about it. I also know that much of what will happen in the new year is beyond my control. But my attitudes about it are in my control. And my intentions for the new year are in my control. So, I will focus on building a set of intentions (not resolutions) for 2014. Watch this space for more!  🙂

In the meantime, here are some of the songs that I take into the new year with me. Thanks to Collaborator for her assistance in finding these songs that I will use to inspire me, motivate me, and keep me keeping on when it seems difficult to do so. According to one of them, I have five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes in 2014. My first intention is to make the most of those minutes.

Still Got Tonight (Matthew Morrison)

Taking Chances (Glee)

Seasons of Love (Rent)

At the Beginning (Anastasia)


I Know Where I’ve Been (Hairspray)

Closing Time (Semisonic)


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