As Christmas and the New Year approach, I begin to feel the heartache and anguish of being far from home. I do miss the festive atmosphere of celebrating the holidays in my country, Canada.

In my hometown, Montreal, Quebec, the streets and the department stores are decorated with Christmas trees and ornaments to reflect the celebratory mood of the occasion. People go on a shopping spree to select appropriate gifts for their loved ones. Companies and organizations hold dinner parties to mark the end of one year with its ups and downs and the approach of a new one with its hopes, aspirations and dreams.

In my second home, China, most cities do not pay too much attention to the Western Holidays such as Christmas and the New Year. However, to be objective, I realized that Chinese metropolitan cities, such as the capital city Beijing, the exciting city of Shanghai and the famous cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, began to rise to the occasion and get in the festive mood to accommodate their foreign residents. Some establishments such as hotels, restaurants, bars and nightclubs in those cities hold parties to celebrate both Christmas and the New Year.

To combat my loneliness, I, always, seize the opportunity to create a festive atmosphere in my place of work by encouraging my students to hold parties to familiarize themselves with foreign customs and traditions. I also encourage them to exchange gifts with classmates.

To accomplish that task, I put all names of my students in an envelope and ask each student to select a partner with whom he or she can exchange gifts. Needless to say, my students always succeed in filling my heart with pride and joy.

Fortunately, most schools give their foreign teachers a day off on Christmas day. I, usually, use it to reflect on my accomplishments and disappointment of the passing year and make resolutions for the New Year as most foreigners do. Unfortunately, we also tend to follow those resolutions for few days and ignore them for the remainder of the year.
I discovered that surviving the year 2015 was a challenge for everyone including myself. 2015 was a year filled with tragedies, conflicts, and upsetting news about terror attacks, plane crashes and unresolved wars. Fortunately, most of us handled the challenge with a grain of salt and came out stronger and wiser.

As for the upcoming year, I have nothing but hope that we will be able to acquire the wisdom and the common sense to cease from fighting one another and attempt to achieve harmonious coexistence worldwide. I hope that my beloved China will keep on developing and playing a major role on the world stage. I aspire that my fellow Chinese will have a wonderful year in 2016 that would grant them happiness and prosperity

On a personal level, I hope that I would be able to share my knowledge with my future students.

Finally, I must seize this opportunity to wish everyone a joyful holidays and a Happy New Year.

Author's Bio: 

Holding an honorary professorship from China, Sava Hassan is a Canadian author, poet and educator. He had published three books and wrote numerous articles in various topics in Canada, USA and China. For a year, he was writing an advice column for a major English magazine in China. Sava, occasionally, writes articles for several Chinese English Newspapers. He won several writing awards including four from China.