On Christmas day, I felt like doing something low-key, without the large gatherings usually associated with this time of year, so I decided to spend it with Joel’s family. Hanukkah had already passed for them; it was just another day. Charlotte, who learns from Nigella Lawson, cooked a tremendous meal of roast beef, beans, and secret potatoes. Even the dessert was a fancy form of chocolate pot mousse, made from 70% cocoa Lindt and allspice.
We settled down with a little Gamecube, and I taught them Dutch Blitz, which we played well into the night. By the time I left, my spirits were up again.
It was a nice mixture of young and mature. A place where I could shut off my brain and be a kid, but have a thoughtful conversation too. They really made me feel like I was one of the family.
I arrived with handshakes and hellos, but left with hugs and kisses.
Stepping back to the 25th, I awoke to the sounds of ebullient whispers coming from downstairs as I lie in Julia’s bed, which she’d carefully made for me. I checked my watch, noticed that it was 6:40 a.m., and remembered that Shirley put her foot down about not opening any presents until seven. The kids were already up, of course, their internal alarm clocks set to spring in anticipation, even after we stayed up late the night before, playing wrestling games until the threat of Santa not coming put them to bed.
Instead, Santa went all out this year, from Nintendo DS, to mp3 players, to boxes on boxes of clothes, to DDR dance pads, to portable DVD players, to games for every system. He also left me a mini remote-control Mercedes SLK, and I’d normally say that he shouldn’t have so he could spend more on the kids, but he also left Braden and Bill a mini Hummer and mini Mustang GT respectively, so I had to accept the gift in order to race them.
Just being there was enough of a gift. As the kids ran around, unable to decide what to play with first, I started to consider staying so I could spend the day, but the responsibility of prior engagements and time with the parents kept me in check. We had a big greasy breakfast of bacon and eggs, but ____ was there to pick me up for the four hour drive home before the turkey dinner.
Next year, I decided.
This doesn’t feel like Christmas to me. I’m not sure why, but the fact that it’s so close to the 25th still hasn’t clicked in yet. Maybe it’s because I decided not to buy presents for anyone this year. Maybe it’s because this is my first year working full-time and I’m used to having a longer running break before the big two-five. Maybe it’s because I’ve been too busy to relax, running around, making plans at the last second. This is usually my favourite time of the year, but I haven’t had any time to enjoy it.
I had the hardest time deciding on what to do for new years. At first, I was just going to spend it by myself at my apartment. I don’t really have a reason to celebrate, and if I was, it would be with my five closest friends ONLY so that I wouldn’t have to deal with ANY moronic people. The only problem is that three of them won’t even be in the city, and the other two are too social to be spending it with me and my select company. Perhaps one year, my friends will indulge me (after tiring of large parties) and we will have an intimate gathering. I think I’ll start planning for next year before everyone moves off to start their careers and their families.
Aaron expressed his desire for my attendance at his new years celebration and I eventually agreed. I was hesitant at first, because, to be honest, I haven’t enjoyed the company Aaron has had over for his dinners lately. I’m one who’s always believed that it’s the company that makes things enjoyable, not the activities. Stick me in a room with my friends and we can have fun doing anything. Stick me in a room with a single person I dislike, and I’ll be miserable no matter what. The agitating guests aren’t Aaron’s fault, of course, or the fault of the guests themselves. I’m an intolerant person.
And I’m working on it.
I always open Christmas gifts, especially from family or family friends, with a little trepidation. It’s more of an obligation than anything else for many people to give me something, and I’m of the firm belief that if someone isn’t going to like or have use for a gift, one shouldn’t give anything at all. There’s no point to giving someone a stupid present, and it just ends up being worse than if one gets nothing. There are a few exception to this rule, being the thought or effort put into the gift, although there is generally none of either if someone doesn’t like the present anyway. Sometimes it just ends up being the fact that the best intentions are used, but a gift isn’t needed to figure this out.
Of course, I’ve been known as the hardest bastard to shop for anyway, since I usually buy whatever I want. As soon as an idea is in my head for something I’d like, I’ll research it for a few days and then go out and buy it. It ends up being very rare that I want to get something I don’t have, mainly due to the fact that my interests are fairly simple and affordable.
This is where every store has a set of Christmas lights, thousands of sparks dangling from the awnings. This is where the subway is packed with people, all wearing their party clothes, trying to meet up with their friends and family. Where the cross harbour buildings have gigantic, moving pictures on their sides, created from intricately set lights and timers. Where there’s euphoria in the air and shopping bags in hand. This is where the jewellery store guards have traded in their berets for santa hats.
This is Christmas in Hong Kong.