Monday, November 22, 2010


This trip to Hong Kong and my hometown of Hefei has, oddly enough, gotten me thinking about Thanksgiving (always my favorite holiday).  I grew up in a neighborhood with only two other Chinese families.  Luckily, our three families were close and it felt to me kind of destined to be that way, because there was one member in each family whose birthday was November 28th.  My mother, my childhood best friend's father and little Tom all shared a birthday that fell close to and sometimes on Thanksgiving day.  Inevitably, we'd have joint birthday/Thanksgiving celebrations in which the main goal was to be stuffed silly with food and good times with friends and family.  Easily accomplished!

Last week in Hong Kong, as I sat down after giving my maid of honor speech at the reception of my childhood best friend's wedding, I thought about how lucky I was, in so many ways.  I felt lucky that I still had this wonderful connection to a friend that I have known since I was ten years old.  That she was marrying the man she loved after experiencing a great many obstacles.  That I could travel to Hong Kong to share in her happiness.        

I felt an immense overflow of gratitude again sitting with my 86-year-old grandfather in Hefei, just us drinking green tea and bundled up against the November chill and chatting about his youth in 1930s Shanghai.  How amazing that I can see him every other year, after having moved to the United States at four years old.  How amazing that I could still speak Mandarin, that he is still around to laugh his hearty, joyful laugh, head thrown back, and to be his optimistic, humorous and generous self.

So I thought, I really need to write it down- the things I'm grateful for, so I don't forget.  I think this needs to be a monthly thing.  Or maybe even a weekly thing.  I like making lists!  This is going to be awesome!

My inaugural Monday List of Happy (MLoH, rhymes with pillow!):

1.  Central heating.  After living in Japan, I have a new appreciation for being warm in every room of my apartment.  Nothing can compare with the kotatsu (a low table with a built-in heater, topped with a blanket).  Everyone in Japan buries themselves under one of these until spring.  However, one tends to lose all desire for productivity when relaxing under a kotatsu.

2.  My death-defying basil plant.  I've stripped him naked twice now to make pesto and perpetually forget to water him, yet he lives.  Yes, he lives even as snow comes blanketing down in Seattle.

3.  My weekly veggie box from New Roots Organics.  It's always a challenge to use up everything I get before the next box, but so much fun.  Sometimes things get a little desperate in the kitchen when I only have parsnips and parsley left, but it's always an adventure.

4.  My boyfriend wearing long johns that are kind of baggy in the rear.  So Pa from Little House in the Big Woods.        

5.  Becoming friends with your relatives.  On this trip to Hefei, I've gotten to know two of my cousins better, as people, and not just as my cousins who were obligated to play with me when I was little.  You can't choose your family, so isn't it wonderful when you can genuinely appreciate them as awesome individuals?

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