CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN DAY 8: CHINESE FOOD AND REMARKABLE PEOPLE AT MY CHRISTMAS TABLE
“If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world.” ~J.R.R. Tolkien
Problem: we wanted to eat good food tonight but no one wanted to cook.
Inevitably when that happens we head for Thai Hut, teriyaki, or Chinese food. Tonight it was a combination of the latter two: YUM! I don’t think there’s been a Christmas yet when Chinese food wasn’t on the menu either Christmas Eve or the day before. That’s just the way the (fortune) cookie crumbles around here!
That reminds me of the Christmas Doug and I spent in Hong Kong. It was the second year we were married and we were living in Japan at the time. Doug was in the Marine Corps and I was teaching English at a Christian school. We were long on dreams and short on money so we came up with a great plan to save enough money to take a fabulous Christmas vacation to Hong Kong.
For the month before Christmas (maybe longer, it’s kind of fuzzy now), we bought no groceries and pretty much ate “c-rats” (commuted rations). This was in 1984, back when military c-rats were the old-fashioned kind–in cans, like in the movies. (Who knows, some of them may have been left over from Vietnam. After all, we were in Okinawa … you never know …)
Anyway, we pulled it off and managed to spend Christmas in a beautiful five-star hotel in Hong Kong. Christmas Eve we ate at a exotic restaurant called the Pink Giraffe, way up high (like thirty some-odd floors) overlooking Hong Kong harbor and the AMAZING Christmas lights bedecking the city. The way they decorate their buildings in Hong Kong at Christmas is extraordinary. (Totally commercial, mind you. Not a hint of the real Reason for the season that we could see. But beautiful nonetheless.)
We spent Christmas Day and had Christmas dinner with some friends of Doug’s parents … missionaries there who had gone to seminary years before with Mom and Dad and stayed in touch. There were other guests there, too … some remarkable people around that table … including other missionaries who had spent years of their lives serving in Hong Kong and mainland China. I will never forget one of them … her name was Agnes … she must have been ninety and had served with Gladys Aylward in China. I was fascinated, inspired, humbled.
(Gladys Aylward is one of my all-time heroines and her story was memorialized in the Ingrid Bergman movie, Inn of the Sixth Happiness, one of my most favorite movies EVER.)
Not sure how I got on that rabbit trail … I guess it was because I started talking about Chinese food. Funny how the oddest things bring back the most random (but delightful) memories.
Twenty-eight Christmases later finds me eating Chinese food at Christmas in quite a different location than in 1984… but still with remarkable people around my table. 🙂
“Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.” ~2 Timothy 2:22