Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I hope and pray that everyone of you has a wonderful holiday, blessed with the presence of your family and friends. Gifts are wonderful, but the best gift of all is to be in the company of those we love.

I am in California with Shaun, Jenny, Alexander, and Jenny's family - Thomas (dad), Tina (mom), Cindy (sister), and Wesley (brother). They are such a wonderful family and have really made me feel very special and very welcome.

When I walked in on Tuesday, Tina immediately put a cup of hot tea in my hands and brought out a plate of grapes. We visited for a little while and went to lunch. Lunch was at a traditional Chinese restaurant, where servers with carts roamed the aisles and if you saw something on the cart, they put it on the table and stamped the ticket. Every thing I said that I had tried before and liked, they also ordered. The table was laden with wonderful dishes - seafood dumplings, beef and broccoli, lemon chicken, rice, and a few things that I don't recall the name of.

Then Thomas and Tina kept Alexander while the "kids" and I went to Disney's California adventure. We met them for dinner at a Japanese restaurant that evening.

Dinner was another amazing experience for me. I ordered shrimp tempura - fried shrimp and vegetables. It came with a cup of soup that although it was good, it was a bit salty for me to be able to eat much of. When my plate arrived, even Shaun said something about how big it was. It wasn't a plate but more like a serving platter. When the server said it was four shrimp, I thought that was OK and I'd be able to manage that with no problem. I did, but it was the rest of the plate I couldn't finish. They all laughed at me. Shaun's plate was even bigger and he couldn't finish either.

Yesterday they kept Alexander again and we went to Bower's Museum. It was an awesome display of culture from around the world and from many different cultures. The American quilt display was beautiful and the China display was very impressive. All of the cultures represented were just amazing.

Last night, we went to May's Garden, which is another Chinese restaurant. We met up with the "POA lady" (Kim, who handles Jenny's father's business affairs in the states when he is in Taiwan), her husband, and her son. Her husband is in metal finishing and his company has done business with Boeing and Cessna in Wichita. Small world...

The food came out in HUGE platters, all eight courses of it. I took just a tablespoon or so of each course and I was so full I thought they were going to have to roll me out. There was lobster "bisque" (which was whole lobsters that had been broken up and then a buttery garlic sauce served over it - yummy), deep fried taro (very sweet, almost like a mashed sweet potato without the color), spring rolls wrapped in seaweed and deep fried, fried rice, a dish with three different types of shrimp (my favorite was done with a sauce that had walnuts), beef dish (no clue what), "salad" (shrimp, lettuce greens, tomato, pineapple, cherries, chicken, and some other ingredients), fish soup, and probably some stuff I'm leaving out.

Today promises to be another wonderful adventure. I know there are Christmas gifts under the tree for everyone in my family and what I brought for them is so small that it's really quite insignificant. I brought Thomas and Tina a baby book that I had created on Snapfish, a 12-piece set of silver plated fortune cookies to be used as place card holders for dinner parties (they entertain a lot), and a little plate that's shaped like a sunflower.

I also bought a thank you card because I want to make sure I show how much I appreciate the hospitality and extra effort they are going to on my behalf. (They went to the store and purchased a new towel and hand towel, toothbrush, and toothpaste for me, then went and bought a special mug for me to use when ever I'm here, and Tina put together an absolutely wonderful photo album of Alexander for me. I have been very touched by their generosity and welcome.)

Merry Christmas to all!

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