I have been always used to a very quiet Christmas dinner. The kind where it would be like another weeknight dinner with my dad, my sister and me. Perhaps there might be some turkey in there as if to note the holiday. My mom would workâ€”after all working on holiday brought in automatic overtime pay. In the morning, our parents would give us some treats. Perhaps chocolate hidden in a stocking that my sister and I would pretend that Santa Claus would come.
And this year, surprisingly it was different. I signed up to work, thinking it wouldn’t be a big deal. But my cousin and his wife had recently moved to the Bay Area. And my cousin’s parents were flying all the way from Chicago. And! We were going to have a huge feast at my grandfather’s house. Wait, is this so?! And so with this surprisingly change of events, I was boggled.
I had a real turkeyâ€”carved for the first time at my grandfather’s dining room. No apple cider, no pumpkin pie (although I dragged a pear cranberry pie from Bike Basket Pies), no stuffing. It was mostly Asianâ€”buy the cheapest ingredients and all. In a sudden moment of enlightenment, I made corn casserole which surprisingly was a hit despite its American-ness. The spicy, the sweet and salty flavor grabbed everyone’s attention even with the plain palates of my grandparents and parents.
There was once when I wished to be like all the other kids, but then I often would rationalize it away. I don’t need a Christmas (or a Thanksgiving) like the others. Last week, a friend proclaimed that he didn’t even try to go to senior prom as I pointed out the hotel in downtown SF that hosted my senior prom. He didn’t care. I admitted that I went because I wanted to be like everyone else. Perhaps my desperation to fit in has seeped into every part of my life. But faced with surprise presents and a turkey…well, this is what Christmas was supposed to be. Dinner with family…with pleasant surprises of togetherness strewn throughout.