My greatest purpose in returning to Luzhou for Christmas and New Year’s was to reconnect with teachers, college administrators, friends from around the city and my church community.
But a tad more on the selfish side, I wanted to pick up my Christmas presents which family and friends had mailed to the Luzhou address. I have no mailing address in Chengdu so the school’s address was it. If I wanted all those little gifties from Santa to open, I’d have to travel back to Luzhou to get them.
So travel I did!
HEAPS TO OPEN
All packages for the foreign teachers land in the English office. I had already informed Angela, one of the Peace Corp volunteers, that boxes would be coming and she had permission to use my apartment key I had given her to put them in my home.
When I alighted, not only were packages waiting for me on my apartment table but also in the office. There had been too many for Angela to carry back with her on treks to and from the classroom so she’d left them for me to deal with.
As it turned out, a majority were stickers and holiday pencils I’d been asking for all year. I keep an ongoing supply of these to use for the students, plus share with the Chinese teachers or give away to friends with kids. This year, a giant, abundant mound has accumulated since I haven’t been around to use them so I’ve been storing all of those Stateside generous mailings away for my return after the summer.
But the one box I had been waiting anxiously to appear was my Christmas stocking, sent every year by my mother, filled with goodies and little what-nots that always bring my Christmas morning great surprise and fun.
THE CHRISTMAS STOCKING TRADITION
This tradition has been ongoing during the past 25 years whenever I am overseas. My mother’s stockings have followed me around the world, from Japan to throughout Mainland China. Never has a Christmas box gone missing, all arriving on time for December 25th and even some the day of.
So when my arrival here on December 22 had yet to produce my stocking, mailed December 3rd, I was a bit concerned. As the days ticked by in Luzhou, Christmas coming and going, then New Year’s passing us by, I was losing hope.
Still no stocking.
WHERE COULD IT BE?
My mother and I had an ongoing email dialogue about its whereabouts.
She had sent it in a bright red holiday box, perhaps signaling the postal authorities that something dangerous was inside. Did the Chinese hold onto it, or even ditch it, with worries that it carried explosives? Did the cardboard rip open, scattering its contents of chocolates, cocoa mixes, and festive knick-knacks throughout the country? Did the English address cause confusion, sending the box to another Luzhou city in another province?
My mom’s theory was that it was hibernating somewhere and would appear in the spring, perhaps along with Angela’s box full of cosmetics which her mother sent in September. It hadn’t landed yet, either.
Could be the two were huddled together in an unheated, dank, frigid corner of a Beijing post office, counting the days to Spring Festival when both would finally, joyfully, find their way onto a truck headed south to our Yangtze river town and into our eager little hands.
Oh, say it would be so!
(As you can see, in China, when it comes to missing parcels from the States, our imaginations do run wild.)
OH, YE OF LITTLE FAITH
As it turned out, no need to await Spring Festival’s Year of the Horse (Feb. 1st) to gallop its way into my life, my Christmas stocking box bouncing against a stag’s flowing mane before dropping at my feet.
Right before I planned to return to Chengdu, January 4th brought it straight to my doorstep.
Yes, even at age 48, I will never, ever outgrow the excitement and delight of receiving my holiday present from my mother.
Oh, happy day!
Now that Christmas is officially over, having received my stocking and all, it’s about time to head back to the big city, Chengdu. I’ve been trying to post photos but for some reason, they are refusing to upload onto my site. This has happened before, mostly due to Internet traffic. When the Net is extremely busy, photos either take forever or just never attach to the blog. I’ll keep trying, though, because they are worthy of sharing.
Until next time, here’s wishing you Ping An (Peace) from China!