This was our second year staying in Hong Kong for Christmas. Last year Campbell was 3.5 months old, I had just returned to work and had spent three weeks in Vancouver the month before. More travel, especially over the holidays, wasn’t in the cards for us. And, it turned out, we LOVED our Christmas as a little family of three.
This year we made a conscious decision much earlier in the year that we would (most likely) stay in Hong Kong for Christmas again. The cost of airfare from Hong Kong to Vancouver in December is a deterrent in itself. Add to that the weather and hectic pace of the holidays and we were sold on staying put!
Celebrating Christmas in Hong Kong is different that what both Braden and I grew up with and came to know as Christmas. It’s absolutely a shift for us to re-imagine our Christmas priorities and expectations and still have the season feel Christmas-y!
Something that helps a bit…it gets cold in Hong Kong! I honestly didn’t know this when we moved and only packed warm weather clothes. It turns out the temperature really drops for several months and feels quite chilly here. This season it’s been down to between 8-10℃ several nights. That’s brisk when you don’t have heat! We’ve needed to turn our portable heater on in Campbell’s room for a few weeks, as it’s gotten as low as 15℃ at night in his room.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a Christmas tree! We had one last year and loved how festive it made our apartment feel. There are a few ways to snag a Christmas tree in Hong Kong, one being pre-ordering a full size tree from a florist (for the starting price of $150 CDN). Instead we opted for a little potted tree. We bought it at the market a couple blocks from our house and transported it home in the stroller! Now that Christmas is over, we’ll see how long it lasts on our balcony!
We really don’t have any space to store seasonal items, so we keep the holiday decor in our house to a minimum. What we do have is as small-scale as possible (ie mini ornaments for our mini tree). Christmas cards we received in the mail adorn our living room ledge and….that’s about it! Gorgeous Mandarin oranges purchased at the Wan Chai Market filled my favourite bowl (a total score…it’s a West Elm “second” purchased at a pop up ceramic shop here in HK!) No joke…Campbell has probably eaten 10lb of these oranges in the last couple months!
Braden’s family came in to town to celebrate with us. And is a family’s visit to Hong Kong even real without a trip to Kowloon?! We braved the crowds, took the MTR, and gazed back at the Hong Kong skyline in all its Christmas-light-adorned glory from the Avenue of the Stars. Our photos don’t do the light-adorned skyline justice.
We live near Lee Tung Avenue aka The Avenue, which embraces any and all holidays to draw a crowd. Christmas was no exception, with music concerts and most exciting…snow! Of course it wasn’t real (just bubbles!) but standing outside with white flecks catching the light as they floated down from the sky almost felt like flurries!
Christmas morning, in many ways, felt like any other day as we stuck to Campbell’s routine. Our little elf woke around 7am, as per usual, and our day progressed from there. All explanations of Santa’s visit were lost on him, as he only cared about oatmeal for breakfast. He looked the part, though, in festive light bulb PJ’s, and what’s more important than that?
With Braden’s parents, brother, and brother’s girlfriend in town to celebrate with us, our house quickly filled up with holiday bustle. A brunch of mimosas and eggs Benedict transitioned to rum and eggnog and presents and, later, dinner. We kept the mood festive with a crackling fire ‘burning’ on our TV!
One of my friends asked, “so, do you eat rice for Christmas dinner?” No we don’t! There was no reasonable way for us to prepare a traditional Christmas with our small fridge, two burner stove and counter-top oven, though. We opted for the next best thing and ordered Christmas dinner in! We had a full Christmas dinner prepared by Great Food Hall, which we picked up, brought home, and served up. While it wasn’t the flavours we’ve come to know as our favourite family recipes, it was definitely a tasty meal!
As much as we love keeping possessions to a minimum (read more on that here), Christmas seems like the right time to add a few toys to the toy cupboard! Campbell could not have been more thrilled with his hand-made wooden train from Grampy! By far his favourite, though, is his new microwave. Its lights up, spins, and beeps – all the hits for this little guy!
It is the strangest feeling to celebrate Christmas in Hong Kong when it’s not even December 25th in Canada yet! We FaceTimed family on our Christmas morning / Canada Christmas Eve, and then again on our Boxing Day / Canada Christmas afternoon. Here we are in our best attempt at a family photo with my parents, sister and brother-in-law!
So that was Christmas for us here in Hong Kong! It was hectic, festive and fun, and felt like Christmas. Or maybe that’s because Campbell’s whole life basically seems like Christmas, and this was just one more wonderful day in a long stream of blissful days for our little toddler.