the thursday group

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The most wonderful time of the year

Christmastime is when Mickey and I switch personalities. As December draws near, his eyes begin lighting up, his lips unfurl and begin curling upwards, and his cadences acquire a strange, almost musical lilt. A week into his birth month, he is positively radiating good cheer: Christmas CDs come off the shelves and into the CD player, Christmas TV adverts get hearty applause, and there's humming and help from him as I trim the tree. He is impossible to annoy in December: "I love Christmas!" he sings. "Let's buy lots and lots of presents for everybody!"

"By "we" of course, you mean me," I snarl back. While my husband has metamorphosed into Mr. Sunshine, I've turned into a toal stresscase. And that's the nub of this personality switch: he delegates, and I agonize. There seems to never be enough: time, money or thoughtfulness to buy your near and dear precisely the right present. I am constantly reminded of this as I trudge through shopping malls, troll scores of shopping websites, make lists and check them twice, etc. I keep waiting for that time when I transform into the masterful perfect-gift giver all my years of shopping have prepared me for. Instead I see my presents magically change from the wonderful, unique -- but well-priced -- thing it was in the store into a cheap looking, mass-produced, made in China tchotchke.

Then there is the added stress of schlepping the stuff back home. For the past 5 years, my Christmas ritual has been to load up my suitcase with one change of clothes and 50 pounds worth of presents and other pabilin. What can't fit into the suitcase is creatively repackaged into a hand-carryable package that's dragged around the airport and forced into the overhead bins. This year I wised up and mailed 10kg of gifts home. But I was still left with a bunch of fragile and unwieldy items I didn't dare check in.

So there I was early yesterday afternoon, all checked-in at the Airport Express station, lugging my oversized shopping bag full of crap, looking for a place to get a decent sandwich since I wasn't particularly looking forward to Cathay's ham and cheese drek, and groaning at the lunch lines, pharmacy lines and crowds and crowds of people. To top it off I was sweating like a piglet from the exertion and too many layers of clothing. Merry Christmas indeed. Merry fucking Christmas.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The Humor In It All

Its been a week and a half since my brother and his wife, and my parents all left HK. Life has almost returned to normal and I have almost caught up on my sleep. Sam has just about been reprogrammed in terms of his sleep habits and I have reverted back to my laziness in terms of eating. I still need to finish my 49 loads of laundry and clean up the whole apartment before The Thursday Group comes over for lunch next week. I miss my mommy again!

This was the first time I have lived under one roof with my parents, my brother and Sabrina as a husband and wife unit, and Chris and I as a husband and wife unit. Talk about the past, present and future stages of marriage under one roof. We had drama, suspence and comedy all in one short week. Too bad my older brother couldn't make it, or there would have been sci-fi as well.

It was interesting watching my brother and Sabrina operate as a married couple. I still can't believe Min's married. Its hard to do so when he still addresses me as "puwet" and dishes out "I don't know" to most everything you ask him. Good thing there's Sabrina now, coz its become "I don't know, ask Sabrina". Min admits he's going to turn into my dad. He has no clue to what's going on at home, he just does the dishes.

My parents on the other hand have evolved through the years. My mom told me since my dad retired, things aren't quite the same. Other than the fact that she's had to do less of the dish washing, she's also had to give up abit more reign of the house. Wait till Min hears about that! But since they were staying with us, my dad channeled most of his energy blending vegetables and making phonecalls about phantom business opportunities. My mom on the other hand reveled in feeding us, me and Sam especially and stuffing vitamins down my throat. Chris dodged most of the bullets by getting to work early and marathon training at night.

But as we all know, what happens when you stick 6 adults and a baby into a 940 sq. ft. apartment for 7 days? Cabin fever! I have to be honest, it was tough finding the humor in it all at first. Its always the drama that lingers on, that pulls at your heart and sits in your mind. Our family life is no longer what I fondly remembered. We have really grown up and my parents have aged. Points of views have toughened and no hope changing those of my dad! And one more thing, that Chinese way of "arguing" or bringing your thought across. You raise your voice! I may not make much sense, but maybe if I raise my voice, people will accept my point of view. Oh, and a bunch of I don't know's thrown into the confusion to liven things up. Thank goodness Sabrina knew the drill and just closed her eyes and napped.

But through it all, I'm happy to say we've all learned and gained alot from this trip. My family may not realize it, but I know someday when they think back, I'm sure some lightbulbs will go off. Mine came earlier not only because I wanted to write something about it, but because I wanted to find the humor in it all.