When I was growing up, every Epiphany (January 6th, the 12th and last day of Christmas, for those of you that don't know) my family would get Chinese food and have an epiphany dinner.

Really the appropriate fair is middle-eastern, but we usually settled for takeout from the Great Wall. It was close, and we were often too busy in the fallout from the holidays to take the time to cook the meal ourselves.

In addition, my mother and sister and I would write "letters to Jesus". It is sortof an obfuscated way of both performing a soul-search and writing resolutions in one concise package. The letters were sealed after being read, and then the letters from the year previous were opened and read.

It was interesting, and the things we wrote in the previous years letters were often funny, either for their shortsightedness or for how pathetically we had failed at them. We were human, and not only did our reach often exceed our grasp, but our dreams often far exceeded the bounds of practicality, or even physics.

We haven't managed to maintain that tradition over the past 4 years really. Too much time away, too many distractions. But the tradition is something I remember on this day, every year, and think about.

I think reading those letters from the previous year helped me realize just how much I change in 365 short days, and learning to adapt to the changes of the self is an important skill. Perhaps, if I ever have children, I will encourage them to write such letters in the hopes that it will open their eyes as the writing once opened mine.

It's a good time for memories. I recently re-watched a Charley Brown Special called "Why, Charley Brown, Why?" about a girl in Linus' class at school who contracts Lukemia.

The story takes place between a fall and a spring, so I'll always think of it as a Christmas tale, in a way. Since my grandmother died of cancer just a handful of days ago, it was a bit closer to the mark than it has ever been before.

It's a great piece of work, very honest and authentic. I don't doubt that the team that put it together were proud of what they did. They certainly should be. Watching it brought back memories of childhood and realiziations of adulthood that reminded me about some of my own past that was very worth remembering.

All in all, despite all the bitterness, this Christmas season has been the appropriate end to my year. The bitter and the sweet mixed together, with melancholy and solitude being the primary features. . . it describes the feeling that this whole year has had for me, very well.

But every January 6th, I'll be damned if I don't get the strongest craving for General Tso's chicken.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


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