Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Arts & Culture

Xmas Without China

Courtesy of Hee-Jae Park
The Xia family decorates for Christmas.

Airs Tuesday, November 26, 2013 at 11 p.m. on KPBS TV

Imagine living a month without the ubiquitous “Made in China” label on anything you purchase. Now imagine that month is December. One All-American family accepts this challenge from Chinese immigrant Tom Xia, who moved to the U.S. as a boy and wanted to explore the material relationship between his new home and his native one.

Courtesy of Michael Dwyer
Tom Xia (right) visits his neighbors Evelyn and Tim Jones.
Courtesy of Michael Dwyer
Evelyn Jones and Tom Xia discuss hazardous Chinese products.
Courtesy of Michael Dwyer
Tom Xia's first Christmas at the Jones home, with Finley and Tessa.

The rules: One family must remove everything made in China from their home (temporarily) while not purchasing anything new with that label for an entire holiday season.

In Alicia Dwyer’s film "Xmas Without China," there’s comedy and tragedy, but more than that questions of family, success, and consumerism that swirl around our idea of personal identity. "Xmas Without China," premiered at the SXSW Film Festival.

In the film, the Jones family gives up not just toys, plates, lamps, and clothes, but their beloved hair dryer, coffeemaker, XBox, and many Christmas decorations, challenging the way they both live everyday life and celebrate Christmas.

Meanwhile, Tom's parents construct a new home, using Chinese materials to proudly build their American dream. As they decorate for Christmas for the first time and the interactions between the Xias and the Joneses intensify, Tom realizes that he’s on a deeper journey to understand the complexities of his own divided loyalties between America and China.


"Xmas Without China" is a playful yet poignant exploration of America’s increasing interdependence with China in a time when, as President Obama says, “the relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century.”

"Xmas Without China" is on Facebook. Visit the film website to view more photos.


Chinese immigrant Tom Xia challenge the Americans in his Southern California suburb to celebrate Christmas without any Chinese products.