Sometime in the early afternoon, I found myself staring out the window and cheerfully humming “Silent Night”. The drab of the scene outside hit me like I was only seeing it for the first time: the grass sparse and yellowing in the courtyard, the pond never as clear as it should be, Thomas the cat dragging his languid, portly self to the nearest tree, the concrete, worn-down eyesore masquerading as an office building across the street…
Still, I hummed my little tune happily.
Last night, when I arrived at the Center, I saw that the halls had been decorated with decals of snowmen. Against the rigid structure of daily life and the oppressive weight of finals looming just around the corner, the decorations seemed a half-assed, juvenile attempt at spreading some cheer. Nevertheless, they worked. My spirit was immediately lifted upon seeing them and remembering that amidst papers and presentations, there was Christmas.
I was thinking about Christmas last night in the cab ride over from the train station. Specifically, I was thinking about presents. While my driver and I flew through emptied streets of Nanjing, I mulled over how many presents I should prepare this year. And while I hummed “Silent Night” and stared at the grey outside, the matter returned again to my mind. And so my train of thoughts continued until I felt overwhelmed with love and gratitude. I reached for the Christmas cards on my bookshelf and began addressing them, each one more emotional than the last.
I wonder if I’ll still be here in Nanjing next Christmas, sending cards west. I quite like that image.