Merry Christmas

Having sent out a long Christmas letter earlier this month, I’ll keep this shorter and sweeter.

Merry Christmas!!

And for those of you in China, who are already celebrating  boxing day, Christmas day is still in full swing here in California and Oregon.

img_8537-moms-house-cropped-largeI’ve been visiting my sister and my mother in Portland, Oregon. We experienced a magical snowfall the day that I arrived, which stuck around for about five days, snarled traffic, and has now vanished. So today , even though the sidewalks are typical Portland moist again, the snow arrived close enough to consider it a white Christmas after all.

Christmas Even DinnerLast night, my sister staged a sumptuous Christmas Eve feast, complete with an  hors d’oeuvre table,  for seven of us here at my mother’s house, the house that my grandparents built with their own four hands ninety years ago.

It was great to see all the familiar fine China (porcelain) and fancy silverware and Swedish glass, which are only used for special occasions, all set out with ham, mashed potatoes, salad, dinner rolls, and green beans with mushrooms.

nativity-pie-crust-cropped-largeAnd for desert, my niece-in-law baked a fruit pie with the crust shaped into a nativity scene.

candle-light-service-largeWe also attended a special Christmas Eve church service which featured, among other things, a traditional candle-lighting activity.

And today, in deference to Chinese tradition, I ate an apple.

Volunteer TreeFinally, we fulfilled a decades-long ambition – to grow our own Christmas Tree. We’d attempted to do this once before, many years ago in California. However we chose the wrong tree species, a Monterey Pine, which we later learned is famous for the speed that it grows. The first year, it was too short. The second year, it was too tall. Fifteen years after that it had reached almost fifty feet (about 15 meters), so we had to chop it down before it endangered nearby structures.

The Christmas TreeNobody knows the species of this year’s tree — it volunteered to sprout by the house a couple years ago. But we harvested it this year in time for Christmas. It’s a bit of a “Charlie Brown” tree, but we were able to hang some of our oldest ornaments, and also include the traditional Swedish Christmas goat.

And for the Chinese point of view, one of my journalist friends from China put together a pastiche of Christmas photos that he’d taken in Tianjin. Those who wish to peruse it can find it by clicking here. I hope you enjoy it. For me, it was especially poignant to recognize my oft-taken bus #842 (two of them almost together, naturally) stopping at Binjiang Dao amidst the shopping frenzy.

Again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!