by Wenlan Chia
November 25th, 2008
My family is not Christian.Â But like many others in Taipei, Taiwan, who are brain-washed by consumer-driven marketing and advertising, we celebrated Christmas anyway.Â There were always parties from the morning of Christmas Eve through Christmas day.Â My sisterâ€™s birthday is a few days before Christmas and mine is exactly the same number of days after Christmas.Â So when we were young, but old enough to know there should be birthday parties for us, our parents skillfully celebrated our birthdays together on Christmas day.Â This convenient buy-one-get-two-free package celebration finally ended when my sister went to college in another city.Â After she graduated from college and moved back home, I left for New York, to another country, and we never had the chance to resume the celebration.
Never short of celebration, parties and entertaining guests during the holidays as a child, I made it a routine to celebrate and attend parties when I was at NYU, and continued after I graduated and got married. After years of event-and-gathering packed Christmases, both my husband (then boy friend) and I felt like doing just one good party instead.Â So there were two years where we attended some extravaganza in the city- first with dinner by French chief and desert covered in gold foil; 2nd I wore my vintage Balenciaga black lace dress. Next year we traveled to London during the holiday.Â A year after, we felt a quiet family Christmas was the best, so we hosted a white Christmas theme with a big tree decorated with expensive ornaments from Barneyâ€™s. A year went by, our puppy dog was bestowed with a smaller tree, adorned with recycled ornaments from the previous year.Â A home-cooked festive dinner with champagne and candlelight took place a year after, with no tree.Â Last year we decided not do anything special, we thought, we had traveled in Berlin and needed rest, although the trip took place in Thanksgiving.
As I continue this deduction history of celebrating the holiday, finally, this year I have reached zero - a solo Christmas.Â I told my husband about the zero plan and he said he will think about it.Â I know he has secretly been wanting to go to the Caribbean during winter.Â To motivate him, last night I brought up more holiday destinations and suggested that he travel to Iceland as itâ€™s cheap there now due to the financial meltdown. â€œWe need to save for the melting day,â€ I said.
Why is a solo Christmas needed?Â I wish I had a good answer.Â Itâ€™s not about having a space of my own - I donâ€™t even have kids to be too busy and lose myself about.Â I do the work I love and I have no complaints about my life.Â Perhaps doing solo is like when I was in high school, where about once a year, I would skip school for one day and go to the movies, do some window shopping, and dine by myself without letting anyone know.Â I was a good student so my teachers and parents never suspected a thing.Â I did not feel like I was betraying them, did not struggle or felt guilty either.Â Instead, I felt enlightened and enriched after being alone.Â It was a real solo day for myself because everyone thought I was where I should have been when I was among strangers.Â I felt free.
As my husband is planning his trip, I canâ€™t wait to pop the question, â€œWhy not take the dog too, honey?â€