Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Christmas Gift

One day in Spring 2005 I asked Danny, my ceramics teacher, to make me a sake set. He agreed but warned me:

“You know that you will have to wait, do you?”

“I am patient.” I promised.

Danny has a unique attitude when making ceramic art works. He does it only when he is in the right mood. We, the students, thought that he wastes his talent by not making more.

It was a long wait, indeed. To give Danny enough time, I expected it for the Christmas, when that failed, I dreamed it for the Chinese New Year, that dream did not realize. After I finally gave up, I got the container the following summer and then 2 cups in the fall. Honestly speaking, it was worth the long waiting. Danny had tried several times in order to get the container mouth right, so the flow would be very smooth when pouring the sake. He also tried twice for the cups to get the perfect glazing. Danny said that he would make me a matching sake warmer, which I am still waiting for, maybe by next Christmas I will have the whole set. So far, this sake set has been the most long waited Christmas gift I have ever received. I will not use the set for sake until I get the whole set and find a perfect occasion, before that happens, I enjoy it with flowers and I showed off to my ceramic friends.

Since I came to the United States, I had celebrated Christmas many times and received many Christmas gifts. I treasure them all, not only the gifts, but also the caring mind. Among all of the gifts, there was a very special one.

It was December 1992 when I graduated from graduate school, I had no time to do job hunting while I worked on my graduation project. I only had hundred dollars left in my bank account. I wanted a job to make some money for living. Just then, Dr. OK Young, my father’s Korean friend in St. Paul, MN, called me. She had a surgery to remove the cancer few days ago and was wondering if I could stay with her for a while to help taking care of her. Without any hesitation, I agreed. To me, Dr. OK Young had also been a good friend. She told me many times that I should let her know if any time I needed any help including financial help. I was alone in the States, I needed that insurance to have a piece of peaceful mind. She made me feel that I had a home away from home. While I stayed with her, she offered numeric times to give me money for my help. I could not accept the money from her since I did it for the friendship. I tried very hard to hide from her about my financial situation.

One day, OK Young’s Korean friend Sunny came to visit. Sunny took me with her to visit her Chinese friend, Hong. Hong came to States few years early than me. He is a tall handsome man with dark skin. That time, he owned a popular Chinese restaurant in Albert Lea, a city about two hours drive from St. Paul. Hong treated us lunch at his restaurant. He is very scholar like and I had hard time to connect him with his restaurant business. After lunch, Hong played erhu, a Chinese music instrument. He used to play erhu at orchestra, his play was very moving. Three of us enjoyed the day together.

Before Sunny and I left, Hong handed me an ordinary looking envelop and told me that was the Christmas gift for me. After weighted the envelop on my hand and felt the shape of the inside subject, I laughed and told him that I knew that was an audio tape. I loved the music played at his restaurant and had asked him for a copy earlier. He smiled to me and encouraged me to open the envelop. Inside, there was the audio tape as I expected, but there was also his gold visa card. He explained to me that he thought I might need money. He had no time to get a card for me, I could use his and he would authorize all transactions from me on the card. I had no idea how he figured out my situation, maybe he knew it since he was a poor foreign student himself before. I was moved to cry. Not expecting the tears from me, Hong did not know what to say or what to do to calm me down than handed me paper tissues. When I finally stopped crying, he said that I could use the card to buy an air ticket home or something I would need for my job interviews. Since he insisted, I thanked him and accepted the gifts.

I never used that card. I cut it half and treasured it along with the envelop with me. I have his tape in my car and played from time to time, especially around Christmas season every year. His trust and warm caring mind have accompanied me and encouraged me on my way to advance. Whenever I had a chance, I passed his spirit to others.

I wish everyone a very merry Christmas. Enjoy the arrangement and Happy Monday!

In Friendship through Flowers,



1 comment:

以柔 said...

From a reader:

I can't help write to you after I read your article today. I was deeply moved by your story.

As a poor student myself before, I know by first hand that how hard our lives used to be, how generous that man was. I believe the angle does exist and it always guides us through our difficult time.

Thank you so much for the touching story.

Best wishes,