My coworkers are really big on gifts, so a few days before my birthday, I told them that I can’t accept anything because I have to move back to the U.S. in a few months and I can’t possibly take everything with me. I’d be only accepting hugs and compliments, I said.
Well, maybe they couldn’t think of any compliments, because many of them ended up getting me something anyway! They told me they stuck to to small, lightweight items that are easy to pack. Here are the highlights:
From my friends Y and EM, I got some mango body butter and a cookbook for simple suppers. 101 ideas for cooking in our dorm room! They also made me a great mix CD that includes several terrific Chinese songs.
From JJ, a little hand mirror with this lovely design on it. These are famous characters from a popular picture book called “A Chance of Sunshine” by Taiwanese illustrator, Jimmy Liao. I love it, it puts me in a good mood.
From K, I got San Zi Jing “Three Character Classic” — a short Confucian story arranged in three-character verses that many Chinese children have to memorize and recite in school. This little wooden-engraved book is about the size of my palm, and the story begins like this: “People at birth/ Are naturally good/ Their natures are similar/ (But) their habits make them different (from each other).” Seems like a very fitting message in a birthday gift.
From L, a beautiful silk scarf. She said the name of the scarf comes from a famous poem about how there are a lot of reeds by a river and they are dewy. His girl is waiting for him on the other side of the river. I wish my Chinese was better so that I can read and fully appreciate this poem, but either way, it’s a beautiful scarf with a beautiful story and I love it.
From B, a bag from Taobao. Poor B. I feel like I tricked her into buying me this gift. See, I don’t know how to make Internet orders by myself in China, so I asked her to order this for me. As it was only 5 days before my birthday, she wouldn’t let me pay for it and gave me the bag as my present. Teehee, I should try this trick more often.
Later in the afternoon, D and A came by my office bearing a small heart-shaped box. Awww… so sweet!
And inside was this little white chocolate gem!
I should note that for my birthday two years ago, my teammates at grad school got me a chocolate lollipop in the shape of a naked butt. What is it about me that makes people want to buy me chocolate in shape of inappropriate body parts?