For a couple of days in the middle of a heat wave in Budapest this year, Audrey played Christmas music in the apartment and wished it was already winter. “I can’t wait for Christmas,” she cried. “It’s my favorite time of the year!” Through out the year, the thought of Christmas would come upon her suddenly just like that and she would say, “I wish it was Christmas already.” And after each Christmas, she would keep the colorful lights in her bedroom until it is time for spring cleaning.
I don’t know another person who is as excited about Christmas as Audrey, certainly no one from our family. Last Christmas, I wrote about how I was the “Grinch” who stole Angela’s Christmas when she was four years old. However, I doubt she would have been a Christmas enthusiast for long even if I didn’t ruin it for her on that fateful day. Angela is fiercely independent and unique in a sense that she doesn’t buy into any preassigned emotional response — the simplistic templates that the society applies to something as complex as life. She is someone who questions all popular sentiments, and since her early teens she has believed Christmas to be just a commercialized religious holiday. There are certainly much worthier things to celebrate than that. But in recent years, she has gone Christmas shopping with her friends and learned to enjoy gift giving. I suppose that’s the true pleasure of the season — playing Santa Claus.
Having been raised in Communist China, I had never heard of that jolly pot-bellied man in a red suit and white beard until after I was 20 years old. I was alone in New York. The festivity around me only made me more homesick. Distant relatives and my parents’ friends took me in. I remember feeling awkward and ashamed when I receive the gifts from them, but did not have any money to get gifts for them in return. For a while, Christmas was a lonely and alienating time. As years passed, I have come to love the Holiday season for the sparkling lights and glittery wrapping paper, for the piney scent of the tree and the toasty aroma of the fireplace burning, for the cozy family time playing banana gram and drinking hot chocolate with peppermint. And most importantly, for Audrey’s happy face when she opens her gift on Christmas morning.
Audrey and I bought our Christmas tree today and she singlehandedly decorated it while the Christmas music played in the house. I am finally feeling the season’s beckoning.
A simple coconut pomegranate chia pudding seemed a perfect dessert for a day full of errands to run. it is delicious, healthy and it looks so cheerful.
Coconut Pomegranate Chia Pudding
1 1/2 cup coconut milk (not from a can, but the beverage that comes in cartons)
3 tablespoon chia seeds
3 tablespoon shredded coconut
2 tablespoon xylitol or sweetener of choice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Seeds from 1 pomegranate
Put the first 4 ingredients in a mason jar and shake vigorously before storing in the fridge for 8 hours or over night. Stir in pomegranate seeds before serving.