Even though Sacramento and Davis are butt freaking cold this time of year, they’re at too low an elevation to receive any snow. So we don’t really get the snowy white Christmas that the Christmas carols talk about. But while I was driving to work on Christmas eve I realized that Davis/Sac does have its own ghetto version of the white Christmas. The morning fog blankets the causeway in white. Despite the dangers of driving in thick fog, I rather enjoy it. It gives almost a hazy, dreamy quality to the day, almost as if recalling a distant memory.
This Christmas wasn’t the stuff of memories. Nowadays one of my parents usually works on holidays. So while my dad was working my bro and I slept in and watched infomercials (the Ninja 1100 Kitchen System actually looks pretty tempting) and Mythbusters for most of the day. I helped my mom cook lunch. After my dad got home from work the family went out for dinner at the asian buffet in Daly City. It was packed. I guess we’re not the only family who doesn’t really celebrate Christmas.
I don’t have a lot of memories of Christmas. Really only two stand out, one from when I was pretty young, the other from my freshman year of college.
I think I was in the third grade when I realized that my dad was Santa Claus. I found out this weekend that in doing so, I destroyed Christmas for my bro, who was only in kindergarten at the time. Basically what happened was I left a letter for Santa in my stocking, asking him for a Nintendo system. On Christmas day I woke up in anticipation, running to the Christmas tree to look for my new game system. I didn’t find it. I checked my stocking and found a handwritten letter from “Santa Claus.”
My dad’s spoken english is pretty good, but he still makes some fobby mistakes in his writing. Whenever he needs a formal letter written, he still calls me up and asks me to write it for him. So anyways I got a letter from Santa Claus written in fobby english saying that Santa wanted me to be a better student, that I should study hard and be good to my brother. I realized then that there really was no Santa Claus. So from then on whenever I wanted anything for Christmas I just asked my parents directly. I guess in doing so I ruined Christmas for my bro, since from then on we didn’t really do the presents under the tree sort of Christmas. In fact my parents were smart about it. They would always wait until the after Christmas sales to buy gifts for us.
During my first quarter in college I was sent to student judicial affairs for pirating movies. To make a long story short, I had an FTP site on my PC. (This was before the days of torrents or even Napster.) It was actually a Korean music/movies/kdrama FTP site. I think at one point I had the largest in the US. Anyways, I had it set up so that if somebody wanted to download from my site, they would have to upload something first. So somebody had uploaded the movie Gladiator on my site in perfect quality, before it had even been released to theaters. Somehow the MPAA found out and sent a letter to the school, which ended with me going to judicial affairs. My punishment was that I had to do 40 hours of community service.
I ended up doing most of the community service at San Francisco’s Glide Memorial church, in the Tenderloin district. They have a meal program for the homeless. I helped out in the kitchen cooking and serving– basically whatever they needed help with. Since it was almost Christmas time, I also spent a day helping out the Toys for Tots program. I like being around kids, so I thought I would really enjoy it, but it ended up being a really unhappy day for me. I hate to be the bringer of bad news. Especially to kids. Imagine having to do that all day.
Basically the program had tons and tons of donated toys laid out on tables. My job was to take kids, hold their hands and lead them around the tables until they found a toy that they wanted. I remember the girls mostly ended up pretty happy. There were tons of stuffed animals and dolls to choose from. I ended up with mostly Asian boys though, and a lot of them didn’t find anything they wanted. Some took toys like action figures or toy cars, others took sporting equipment. But a lot of them asked me for stuff like razor scooters or video games, which we didn’t have, and left with a huge frown on their face as I stuffed a basketball in their arms. I still remember the frowns on those faces.
It made me realize how blessed I was. I didn’t get that Nintendo when I was a kid, but by and large I got most of what I asked for (since they were usually on sale after Christmas anyways). I figured out that I can get my dad to buy anything as long as it was somewhat “educational,” so I was able to get my dad to buy a new computer for me every couple of years. I just had to supply the games for it on my own.