Christmas

I did say that Christmas dies a little every year. It fizzles out like the golden spittle at the end of a sparkler. You really don’t want the brilliance to end but it does -and you’re left with a smoldering grey stick.

I remember the sheer enthusiasm I had for decorating the Christmas tree with some hand-me-down tinsel and baubles, hiding presents and cards in the branches and leaves of plastic. I remember the glittery star I had picked from some antique store, and how my mouth watered at the sight of new boxes of chocolates stacked on top of each other. I snaked the coloured Christmas lights around the tree and turned the lights off in the house just to admire the different light-flashing settings. I remember seeing my dad sneak into my room with a present in hand and waking up early in the morning, still overjoyed at the fact that my stockings were filled. The mornings resonated with Christmas songs from an old tape:
…three french hens two turtle doves… hosanna in excelsis… GloooOooOooria… and shivers accompanied each step out of the house. I used to bake mince pies with my Grandmother and standby looking expectantly into the oven as the pastry turned golden. I would force my parents to try them and they’d always say they tasted better than they did. My dad taught me how to make chocolate fondue (by melting chocolate in a bowl placed in hot water) and dipped strawberries in it, realizing too late that the chocolate hardened much too quickly. My grandmother and I shaped coloured icing into snowmen and mistletoe and decorated a rich fruitcake. My family crowded around the table to exchange gifts and we pulled crackers and popped party poppers, releasing streams of confetti down and into our shoes by the door. We lit candles and my brother and I played with the flames, watching them lick the edges of paper and eat at toothpicks. And of course, there were the sparklers. They were always a treat.

I just don’t enjoy Christmas the way I used to. My siblings and I go on our separate laptops and the dinner table is quiet for the most part. Everything is rose tinted when you’re a child. But I guess that’s besides the point. It’s great that Christmas is a time for families to come together and enjoy good food but it’s Jesus’ birthday and not any random holiday for me and my family. It’s strange to think how Christmas has been commercialized into a holiday that people no longer associate with Christ, and even weirder to think how an old guy with a beard became such an integral part of Christmas. Beats me.

If anything, I am thankful for the reminder that He is my saviour, no matter the circumstance. He is my family, no matter the distance I feel to my own sometimes. And that hope is something that cannot be easily extinguished.

Advertisements

Childhood and Chili costumes

Last week, I walked a thousand miles (probably) around Hong Kong looking for a hot chili pepper costume for the inter-house cross country event . RED REPRESENT! I bargained for 5 red beanies which had the starting price of around $80 each to $35, which is not too shabby if I do say so myself. Unfortunately, I only had a $500 note (which I don’t have often and was trying to be frugal with), so I felt selfish for asking to pay less than half the original price although I had money to spare. But to make myself feel better, it would have been ridiculous to pay $80 for a beanie I was going to wear for a few hours. Also, the beanies probably cost $5 dollars each to make at some knitting factory, so what these sneaky people are trying to do is milk foreigners or white-looking people for all they are worth. They think they can get away with this trickery but my Asian family has taught me well. I refuse to be bamboozled (great word, just saying). The way to go about this is to firmly ask for the lowest price you dare to ask for and then slowly adjust towards a compromise. If they don’t budge, turn around and leave. They’ll probably stop you mid-stride.

On the road to finding the red cardboard I needed to cut a chili shape out of, my friend and I found the cutest little shop. On the walls hung clocks designed in the shape of vinyl records and iconic retro posters in black frames with ironic, witty comments printed on them. Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and James Dean. Cigars and skylines and Campbell soup. It made me think about the room I’ll someday design for myself, full of words and photos and beautiful, delicate, peculiar things.

I walked along a street I used to visit every Christmas or Halloween and was bombarded by multiple flashbacks of childhood. One of these shops had things dangling from the ceiling, including baubles and beads and antique-looking items. I imagined a sparkly Christmas extravaganza lounge and possibly a jungle rainforest get-up for my dream loft, which prompted memories of our beloved Rainforest cafe (which has disappeared for years). I was surprised to discover that we had both known this cafe before we had met each other and had such similar, treasured memories there. We raved about the souvenirs: the curly straws, plastic bottles and squidgy toys with fish that floated in glitter. The rubbery dinosaur gloves with teeth. The gorillas in the darkness, the smoke, fries, gigantic leaves and ubiquitous bushes. Statuesque monkeys clutched onto artificial trees and the twitter of birds resounded continuously, creating the most exciting dinner experience eight-year-olds could possibly ask for.

***

Cross country happened and I couldn’t wear my costume during the run because I had to do the elite race. That much was disappointing but you know, a girl’s gotta do what she’s gotta do for the house! So that was that. And I managed to run the entire thing without walking so kudos to me. I know, that blasé attitude.

Also, I told my parents that night that I was going trick-or-treating with some friends in Sai Kung in a flower costume. The worst thing is that they believed me without a hint of suspicion (partly because I would wear a flower costume). But still. I am such a liar.

From Sobe to Sobe, to remember.