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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Christmas in Toyohara クリスマスの日

So this is a small city in the center of Taiwan. December 25 is not a national holiday, so people went to school and work as usual in Fengyuan (Fongyuan) 豊原, but this resident foreigner was able to take the day off to celebrate with his family, thanks to an understanding cram school 塾 owner.

Christmas began with my daughter opening up her presents, beginning with the stocking stuffers, and progressing to the presents next to (not under) our small artificial Christmas tree. The stocking included Amber's first doll, imaginatively called "My First Little Doll", while out in the living room she came face-to-face with the goodies that Santa had left behind, namely a tricycle and a large box of plastic building blocks. Our little 波ちゃん is still too young to grasp the concept of Christmas, but compared to last year (when she seemed bewildered by the all the goings-on during her first Christmas), she was very excited, and kept saying "Wow" while looking over her gifts.

The weather today was gorgeous, with clear skies and warm (but not hot) temperatures, so after opening the presents, the three of us went to a park near our apartment building to let Amber give the tricycle its first real-world workout. After watching our little girl have a lot of fun, both on the bike and on the playground slides, we went to a restaurant serving turkey rice to have lunch. It may not be the same as having a turkey for Christmas dinner, but one has to adapt the best one can when in a foreign land.

After lunch, we returned home so Amber could take her afternoon nap. With the day free of any work commitments, and the weather still holding up, I decided to get in a little exercise. Following a short hike on one of the trails in the hills above Chung-cheng (Jhong-jheng) Park 中正公園, I took a walk up the road to the remains of what appear to have been some kind of activity center, though my wife has no clue as to what purposes the abandoned structures once served. It also isn't clear whether the complex went under as a result of red ink, the September 21, 1999 Chi-Chi (Ji-Ji) Earthquake 921大地震, or a combination of both. The bathrooms, in any event, didn't survive the tremors from the looks of things.

We ended this Christmas in the evening by taking a walk to the I & S Cafe, a local Western-style eatery, where I had...turkey with cranberry sauce! It may not have been the same as celebrating Christmas back home, but I feel pretty good about the day nonetheless. Happy Holidays everyone!



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