Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Twelve Days of Christmas – New Year’s Eve and Footnotes

Saturday morning found me at the internet café again. After that I disappeared again – took myself off the grid. I took down my laundry and just relaxed. Only later that night 11:45, to be specific, did I gear up and send out text messages to everyone in my phone. Almost immediately I started receiving messages back, in Chinese and in English.

Some were simple – Happy New Year! Others were more complex and devoted. The most touching one came from Tony: I am more to him than just a teacher, not just for the last two years but for the rest of his life.


Two weeks before Christmas Lancy, a student in my in my sophomore class last year and who has since graduated presented me with a grey scarf she had knitted herself. Her visit was preceded by a series of text messages pledging undying respect and love. She calls me her second Mom. I’m honored. Lancy is one of those people who will go far in life but will not make headlines. Cherubic, and with more heart than any one person should have a right to, she helped make my transition to life in Wuhan much easier. Apparently, even though she is no longer a student here she intends to continue our relationship. She started by inviting me to her hometown for Chinese New Year. I’m honored.

She is not the only student who has graduated that manifested herself this Holiday season. Remember Jonathan (How Rude entry, posted January of last year)? He called to wish me happy New Year. After graduation he and his best friend Tristan moved to Shenzhen to look for work. They are both established down there and working for a good firm. They will both also return to Wuhan for Chinese New Year. If I happen to be out of town while they are here, we agreed that I should come to Shenzhen to visit with them. That would be my pleasure, both because they are great kids (men?) and because Shenzhen is south of Wuhan and much warmer.

Sadly Tristan’s father passed away about two months ago. I was aware that he had cancer but did not know it had consumed him. I asked Jonathan to extend my condolences. Also I learned that Jonathan and Mary broke up. I feel terrible for Mary, who once confided to me that Jonathan was the love of her life. I wonder how she is doing… but have no way of contacting her. It seems that Jonathan doesn’t even speak with her anymore. I didn’t dare ask him for her contact information, intuiting from his tone and the fact that they are no longer in touch that the breakup must have been less than amicable.

After my teaching obligations were done I decided to go to Nanjing for a few days of rest and relaxation. The strain of the holiday proved to be too much for me. I couldn’t see myself packing, boarding the train and going anywhere. Between being sick and being worn out I only wanted to stay home. So, no trips for me.

That’s OK. During these six weeks off I’ll have plenty of opportunity to travel. Besides Lancy I’ve had invitations to visit Martin’s home town and spend time with Susan in Yi Chang. Gary, Mask and I are planning a two-week getaway. As always, Xi’an awaits. Just writing about it I’m starting to get that travel itch.

At some point between Christmas and New Year I got to talk with me son. While chatting online with Jennifer she got the brilliant idea to call her brother and ask about his holiday plans. And then she got really ingenious and put her phone up to the computer’s microphone. Darrell and I talked for about 15 minutes in this manner. It was great to hear his voice again!

But then, he got a brilliant idea himself. He bought a phone card and called me! We talked for nearly two hours, just like the good ole days when I lived in Texas and he could pick up the phone any time of the day or night and talk to me.

After all the computer problems he’s had and the months and months of being incommunicado, it is just wonderful to know that, at any time my phone could ring and it will be him on the other end.

I can’t wrap this up without mentioning everyone who sent e-cards and emails, and those who made time to chat with me during these holidays. I’d rather not reveal my entire email address book but let’s just say that I’m still trying to catch up on my correspondence.

So there you have it: My Christmas in full detail. Sure, I’m away from family but I have to admit: I’ve gotten more than my share of hugs and gifts and love this year.

Instead of Christmas Eve, Christmas night and the day after Christmas, my Christmas went on and on and on, to the point that I was overrun by the spirit and quite nearly wrung out by it.

And now it is New Year. What will this Year of the Dragon hold?

Who knows. All I can say is that I hope your Christmas was as full as mine. For this new year I wish that all the love you spend comes back to you thousandfold, all your ventures prove profitable and that your heart and mind are filled with peace and joy.

Happy New Year!

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