Since my family is leaving for a month-long missions trip to Thailand shortly, in all likelihood, this will be my last blog post of 2012. While I’m super excited for visiting our friends in Thailand (not to mention Mr. Donut), I’m positive the stress-levels in our home will be elevated as we have to begin packing and are attempting to send out our New Year’s greeting cards prior to leaving, so I thought it’d be a good time to reflect on what I’m thankful for this past year (in no particular order):
– For funny kids: particularly D1. Sure being a parent can be challenging
often at times, but it’s also incredibly hilarious. In Sunday school, D1’s teacher has been teaching them about the armor of God: belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with the preparation of the gospel of peace, , shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit. So each week, they learn about the piece of armor and make it. The teacher then collected the item and held on to it until they completed the unit.
A few weeks ago, D1 told a lie to my wife. When she confesses to my wife that she did in fact tell a lie, my wife asks, “D1, why did you lie?” Her response? “Because mom, my teacher has my belt of truth.”
– For that first bite of rice not causing me to go all Nutty Professor: My goal weight was 175 and I met that in early October, mostly due to a low-carb diet and lifting weights. Once I met the goal weight, I figured it was time to eat some rice. I’m not gonna lie – I thought I’d go all Nutty Professor and all the fat would suddenly come back after that first bite. Thankfully, I’ve been keeping steady at 175 and I hope to do so for the foreseeable future.
– For my parents: we’ve been living with them for more than a year now, and somehow, we haven’t had any major blow ups. I’m grateful that they’d give up their freedom and comfort to house us. It’s easy to let myself become ungrateful and only think of the inconveniences living with them may cause – choosing to be grateful has been both challenging and a source of personal growth for me.
– For juicy baby fat: D2’s thighs were mighty juicy, but S1’s are even more amazing. For his last checkup, he was off the charts for weight and 90th percentile for height. The little guy’s 6 months old and weighs around 20lbs; D2 weighs about 25.
– For my wife: nearly 8 years of marriage and I’m falling more in love with her every day. This year marked a lot of change and challenges for her: quitting her job and becoming a homeschooler, caring for the kids while I nursed my sprained ankle and stomach issues, birthing and nursing S1, and encouraging me as I spent more time at the gym.
– For this blog and my readers: while I don’t update nearly as much as I used to (those who blog regularly with 3 or more kids, I salute you!), I’m thankful that this blog has been an outlet for my musings and helping me to become better at organizing my thoughts. The people I’ve had a chance to meet and converse with have been an invaluable resource & encouragement in my life.
As we look toward the end of another year, what are you thankful for?
I regret to inform you, Dear Reader, that D1’s memory is improving. Sure, you might be thinking, “Wait…don’t you want her to have a good memory?” Not really. You see, distraction has been my favorite tool in my parenting toolbox but it has now been rendered ineffective. For example, a year ago my daughter would constantly ask if I would buy her something and whenever she did, I told her I’d buy it for her when she got bigger. Case closed. If she saw me eating chocolate, I’d tell her she can have it tomorrow and of course, she forgot about it the next day. By the way, there’s no such thing as sneaking candy or treats when you have kids – they have a 6th sense for sugar.
But now? She remembers. Everything. “Appa, you said I could have chocolate today. Can I have it, please?” “Appa, you said you would buy this for me when I was bigger…am I bigger now?” So with deep sorrow, I’m putting away my distraction tool. For now.
Her improved memory also means that these moments we share, could potentially make up her childhood
scars memories. So this year could be her very first Christmas memories. Which got me thinking about my very first Christmas memory.
My family immigrated to the States when I was 4. After living with my uncle and his family for a year (4 adults, a 4yo, 2-2yos, and 1 infant in a 2 bedroom apartment), we moved into our own apartment. I have a lot of memories of that year but I can’t recall anything particularly Christmas-y.
The next year, I started kindergarten and of course I learned all about Christmas and Santa Claus from school. I learned that he came down your chimney and gave you presents, which sounded absolutely awesome. Except, we didn’t have a chimney. I asked my mom how Santa would come give me my presents since we don’t have a chimney and she told me that Santa has the keys to all the apartments of all the good kids.
The thought of a fat, bearded white man having the keys to my apartment freaked me out. But since he was white, I figured he’d be like all the other white kids in my school who thought I was A) Chinese and as a result I must B) know karate, and I could scare him off by simply saying, “My dad is Bruce Lee ya know.”
Anywho, my sister and I went to bed the night before Christmas, eagerly awaiting to see what gifts we would get. Other kids told me how they would get action figures, toy cars, and all kinds of other cool stuff from Santa Claus, stuff a poor, immigrant family couldn’t really afford.
The next morning, my sister and I ran to our little tiny tree and found candy, probably 10 items or so, for each of us. And the candy was marked with 7-11 price tags. At that moment, I knew in my little 5-year-old soul that there was no Santa Claus, and was relieved to know that the fat man didn’t have the keys to my apartment. And I also realized that my mom and dad went out after my sister and I were fast asleep and spent their hard-earned money to make their kids happy. My sister turned to me and said, “Isn’t Santa great, oppa? (oppa is the Korean word for girls when addressing an older boy)” “Yeah,” I replied, “He really is.” That sequence probably didn’t happen, but it sounds so Hallmark Christmas-y with it in, wouldn’t you agree?
I didn’t get a toy car or a cool action figure, and in fact, when I told my friends at school that I got candy from 7-11 from Santa, many of them laughed. But I remember feeling so loved by my parents.
Reflecting on it now, I can’t imagine what it must’ve been like for my parents. Being in a new country and adapting to new, commercial holidays was quite the culture shock, especially since they were struggling just to get by. And it also explains my unending affinity and affection for 7-11.
Santa did eventually give us better gifts (I never spoiled it for my sister), but nothing will replace that first memory of knowing that my mom and dad loved me and my sister so much that they’d use what little money they had to make their kids happy. And who can forget knowing that the fat man doesn’t have the keys to the apartment.
I’m not sure what memories D1 and D2 will hold on to as they grow up and become adults, but my prayer is that their first Christmas memories are just like mine: that mommy and daddy love them.
What’s your first Christmas memory? What do you wish for your kids this year?