• Coffee - mania Christmas - mania
  • Dec 18, 2013
  • "There’s no place like home for the holidays” rings out in a Beijing shopping mall, but I’m nowhere near my hometown. In fact, I’m on the opposite side of the globe from where I grew up celebrating white Christmas every year. I’ve lived here long enough to call Beijing home.  I have my wife and kids here, but for many expats, Christmas far from home can be a terribly lonely experience.


    For many, the closest they’ll get to being home for the holidays is Skype. Their computer screens will display family members back home around the Christmas tree. Some may even join people at home for Christmas carols. The internet has opened a whole new dimension of sharing the holidays with family at home, but it will always fall short of putting us in a Christmas environment we can touch. For that, we have to find something in Beijing.

    Coffee shops in Beijing provide the perfect holiday surrounding. Many are decorated as nice as any American or European living room. The Christmas tree in Mann coffee pictured on the right, for example, is a welcome reminder of the holiday.


    Chatting with friends in Costa Coffee Shop the other day didn’t even feel like I was out of my country. The front counter was clad with Christmas cakes, stockings, ginger cookies and other holiday delights. The whole shop was decked out for the holiday.

    Starbuck’s offers special Christmas beverages (pictured left) that are irresistible and only available during the holidays. Even the signs add to the Christmas feeling. Shelves are lined with red porcelain holiday mugs and Christmas coffee blends.  There is such a “back home” yuletide atmosphere in the cafe, including the holiday paper cups (pictured below), that I almost wonder if the “star” in Starbuck’s has some relationship to the star the Wise Men followed in the original historical Christmas story!


    Today, I’m writing in a campus coffee shop, surrounded by Christmas. There’s a large tree to my right, sparkling with colorful lights. Snowflakes and tinsel dangle from the ceiling. Santa and Merry Christmas banners are draped over the café’s three doorways. And, over the intercom Jingle Bells, Away in the Manger, Silent Night and other traditional Christmas songs are playing. I’m munching on cookies with my coffee. It wouldn’t feel any more like Christmas than this, even if I were back in my hometown!

    So, if you can’t fly home this Christmas, you can still enjoy a delicious holiday beverage and the Christmas environment of a Beijing coffee shop, and sing, “There’s no place like home-away-from-home for the holidays.” And, if you Skype your family from a cafe, they can also see your Christmas environment on their screens.