Well, a pretty decent Christmas can be had in Taiwan. On Saturday night, I got together with my girlfriend's family for a good ole turkey dinner. One of the local restaurants here has a turkey takeaway dinner. Though the sides of stuffing, gravy, and beans were sadly insufficient, the 13 lb. turkey was plenty for all 8 of us. I made some mashed potatoes, and we added a salad and pumpkin pie. F. found plenty of decorations, and made some new placemats. We had a chocolate fondue afterward, as well. We had a great time, and I hope that we will be able to hold our own turkey extravaganza next year in our new home, wherever that is!
Thanks to the TVUPlayer, I spent Christmas day doing what many Americans do: watch American TV all day and eat leftover turkey. Ahh, yes, a few episodes of COPS, Monk, It's a Wonderful Life, and San Francisco news. I even caught a choral concert from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, a stone's throw from Orange City, Iowa, where I used to spend Christmases growing up.
Although I am a little hesitant to include these two items together as equal in scope, I would like to note two recent losses.
First is my Apple iBook. I managed, somehow, to kick over a bottle of tea onto the keyboard, which got soaked. Now, any quick-thinker would have turned off the computer and let it dry out for several days, then cleaned and restarted. Probably would be okay, right? Well, I wasn't so quick to react because I was asleep at the time. So poor "xiao bai" (little white) sputtered and sparked for several hours, blinking its pitiful sleep light as it sizzled to a coma. I haven't had the heart to bring it in for a check up to see how much it would cost to fix (my guess: NT$10000--a fifth of the buying price). The sadness is not that of losing the hardware--I had kind of wanted to update the 4 year old computer anyway--but that of the year's worth of photographs and classroom material since my last backup that is trapped, submerged, on the dead computer. I could still find some of it on my USB flashdrive/mp3 player, except that is broken, too, having severed a connecting wire. Sigh.
The second loss is one that happened earlier this year in November, but which I somehow missed. This year experienced the passing of a writer of great genius and skill, William Styron. I will always remember not only the novel "Sophie's Choice" but the sunny summer afternoons work breaks in Boston parks where I spent reading that heart-wrenching story. Toward the end of his life, Styron was convinced in some ways that he was completely redundant in the world of American letters. I was lucky enough in Washington, D.C. to meet the superb documentary filmmaker Charles Guggenheim, who was a neighbor of Styron's on Martha's Vineyard (and has also since passed away himself). Through this friendship, I was able to relay to Styron the opinion that his writing was outstanding in my history of twentieth century American literature, and its relevance still noteworthy. He looked pleased, apparently. Thank you, Bill. You will be missed greatly.