the best is yet to come

Christmas Markets and December in Shanghai

I spent most of my childhood cold.

In Saint Petersburg, when December hit and there was barely three hours of sunlight a day, I bundled deep into my fur coat, fur hat, and snow pants, because that was the only way to get from a place to another place in the blistering cold (in these situations, you inevitable break into a sweat the second you enter a building, which makes going outside decidedly less pleasant)

In Massachusetts, my parents – in the tradition of all New England families – insisted that we keep our house at the toasty (for them) temperature of 68ºF, while I clung for dear life to the lone space heater in my room. I remember stealing the other space heater, and using both to read books with two space heaters – one at my feet and one behind my back, forming a makeshift convection oven (BAKE AT 350ºF for five chapters).

So where am I going with this? Well, in China of all places, for the first time in my life, I am living at the temperature I feel most comfortable indoors: 26ºC.

Heating in China is an interesting phenomenon. Shanghai is just below the cutoff for government-mandated indoor heating, and as a result, we get drafty walls, barely covered windows, and air conditioners that double as heating units. Many places that aren’t apartments just don’t heat in the winter at all, so I’ll often end up wearing my winter coat to dinner, or else  insisting on only eating hot pot. Shanghai apartments also lose heat at an alarming rate. Every night, I close the door to our bedroom, and every morning, my first alarm is to venture into the tundra of the living room and crank up the heat, so the morning becomes a degree of bearable. Luckily, heating an apartment to what in most countries is an unreasonably warm temperature is incredibly cheap, for which my toes are eternally thankful.

I spent my last Christmas in Shanghai, but this Christmas, I will be able to go home to family. I’m looking forward to seeing my mom and the two birthday cakes that have already been promised on my arrival home. What I’m not looking forward to are more nights spooning my space heater, but somehow I think I’ll deal.



3 thoughts on “Christmas Markets and December in Shanghai”

  • With Beijing issuing a first red smog alert how is it for you in Shanghai? Do you fare better for being on the coast? Saying that I really didn’t know that you were on the coast until I looked up how close to Beijing you were on a map.

    Nice to be going home for Christmas.

    With the title of Christmas Markets I thought you were going to reveal that, like in the UK now, you are also overrun with seasonal German markets. It seems a very popular tradition, very quickly, and in Manchester they only spread and spread over the city centre each year.

  • It’s not that bad arter all. Numerous studies have shown that to stay healthy, beautiful and young forever one must sleep in a room where it’s about 15-17 degrees Celsius 🙂 Maybe that’s why getting old Asian women look younger than European ones.

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