Winter Break: Part II

Because this is a combined post, we have color coded our sections: Jon – Red, Michelle – Purple.

Upon returning to Andover after our ski trip (mentioned in the previous part), we were invited to our friend Inga’s to make gingerbread houses. Michelle posted pics in an earlier entry, but here’s a recap in case you missed it. My gingerbread ship took forever to make. My sail kept breaking or sinking into the top of ship. I think I actually just sat around for most of the time eating candy and watching other people work on their projects while waiting for all the sugar-glue to dry :P

Michelle’s gingerbread theater
My gingerbread ship & monster

Normally when I am home, we don’t do anything special for Christmas Eve, but on Christmas day we go to a family friend’s house to have have massive dinner potluck with those who are close to us. This year’s Christmas dinner was pretty much the same as always: about 50 people squeezed into the house, way too much food, even more drinks, and an all too friendly Yankee gift swap game. This Christmas Eve however, was entirely different.

I was able to spend not only Christmas Eve with Michelle’s family, but all of Christmas day as well. It was the first time I would have to say more than, “hi, how are you? bye” to them and I was both nervous and excited. It ended up being a great experience that I may share more of in a later entry.

Another “tradition” when I am home for the holidays is to take part in the First Night parade in Boston. From what my mom says, this year was the 17th year in a row for her. According to my calculations, that means we’ve been taking part in this parade since 1996-1997, which makes us really old. Maybe it’s time to retire and let the new generation of volunteers take over?

Before the parade, we were asked to demo onstage at the Hynes Convention Center. It was me, Jon, and Alex G. performing back to back to back for a 5 minute endurance training session. Alex performed Lian Bu Quan and Gong Li Quan, I performed Kun Wu Gun and Shi Zi Tang, and Jon performed Taizu Changquan and Bagua Dao. Afterwards, we got some compliments from the audience, including one guy who really really liked the background music (from Shaolin Soccer). I know that “I like your confidence” was intended to be a compliment, but in my mind I was thinking, “That’s because confidence was the only thing I had. Bad root, stances, and jumps.” :p

Me and my dad before the parade. I’m having a blast, can you tell? :)
We made her a NYE hat
Matching Turtle Fur neck bandanas

After the parade we drove to Woburn and celebrated the coming of the new year with my friends from college. I was only in school for a year before applying to the Retreat Center, but that was enough time to meet some of the most spectacular friends I’ve ever had. In school, we learned about being green flames. In life, you see and meet countless numbers of people, with the vast majority of them being strangers. The biggest and most visible part of a fire or flame is yellow. It is the furthest from the center and represents strangers. The next colors in are orange (your acquaintances), red (your friends), and blue (your close friends). Finally there is green. It’s not commonly seen in any flame, similarly compared to the number of people whom you are extremely close to. Green flames represent your best friends. And so now, many years later and many miles apart, we have remained green flames. I’m grateful to have friends like these. Think about the people in your life. Who are your green flames? :)

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