Christmas in Bear Park

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Dad took this picture and then noted that Christmas in Bear Park Township is more colorful than it was sixty years ago when all there were here were Norwegians and Swedes. Here we have Lance, (half Phillipino, half St. Lucian) Kae and Champoo (from Thailand), and Holly, from southern China. (Notice the rice cooker. Mashed potatoes are now the food of an oppressed minority of our family.)

My mother Glenda taught English one summer in China twenty-five years ago or so. She kept in touch with one of her students, Linda. Holly is Linda's daughter and is studying biological technology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. She is a delight. I took her on a tour of the local area. She had never imagined a town so small as 800 people. She had never seen a frozen lake. She had never seen the American countryside, nor had she seen the Amish trotting to town in a buggy pulled by a horse. 

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For some reason, since we kids grew up, none of us ever has a Christmas tree. We have developed a tradition of putting our gifts under the grand piano at Mom and Dad's. Joe and Kae don't have room. I don't have the inclination. But Lance decided Champoo's first Christmas in the US of A wouldn't be complete without a tree, so he went out and bought one and spent Christmas Eve with Champoo and Holly, artists all three, making paper decorations. (I just now noticed the green grass in the background. When has that happened before in our lifetimes on Christmas Eve?)

Holly has always loved Christmas, even though it isn't celebrated in China. She said when she was young, she made her own tree and then put gifts under it to herself! So she was delighted to have a real Christmas. She got so many gifts there is doubt she'll get them in her luggage when she flies back to Pittsburgh this afternoon. 

As for Champoo, her nine-year-old presence made Christmas fun. After a meal at the Swamp Castle in the presence of the above tree, we moved back to Mom and Dad's to open gifts. Champoo, as the youngest, passed out the gifts. Holly, as the second youngest, was drafted to help when Champoo became exhausted. The gifts, while big in number, are usually small in price. I had Champoo convinced I was giving her a pack of gum. After considering that for a moment, she said, "I don't care! Thank you Eleek!" I actually gave her something I found in Tucson that is uniquely Tucson. 

One of the gifts to somebody was a word game with tiles, sort of like Scrabble, except you race to use all 21 of your tiles in your own grid. Yesterday, Joe, Champoo and I played a couple of games. During the middle of the first game, I looked over at Champoo's grid. She had formed the word "information."

Not bad for a nine-year-old who started speaking English in April!

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