Illustration by Ashley Amado.


A week before last Christmas, I’d gotten into an argument with my mother and father about something undeniably inconsequential (I don’t even remember) and inevitably illogical (on both our parts).

The mango-scented body lotion and shampoo set and the Ghirardelli hot chocolate pack I’d gotten for my parents became buried in a tangle of my “attitude issues” and their “unreasonable demands.” The space between us was so big that it was the only thing that fit under the Christmas tree.

15 Text Messages

Or rather, 15 text messages, 12 angry DM’s, 7 missed calls, and 3 emails, all from multiple worried friends.

I still staunchly argue that it’s not my (or my 16-year-old self’s fault) that I’m eternally unable to hear my alarm, or that my body seems to run on Chinese Standard Time (which is to say, late), or that the universe will make exactly 213 things go wrong the minute it hears that I’m in a rush.

And anyway, I make it in time before the last call to board the plane and think about how much I’ll miss free WiFi when I’m not at home for Christmas break. And how much I’ll miss the mild Christmas weather. And how much I’ll miss my other friends.

And then, I think about my parents, whom I’ll miss too.


A 24-lb. Turkey.

The Chang family brought it for our Christmas Eve Party, and it had to be twenty-four pounds because a party the size of ours would devour anything less (and Mother really wanted leftovers to avoid cooking the next day).

My father’s truck had pulled out of the driveway earlier that morning, black work bag absent from its place next to the cabinet. My mother worked Superwoman in the kitchen all day, blaring a Chinese drama from her iPad that screamed of non-invitation to talk.

T-minus 2 minutes until midnight I was still T-minus two parents (they had spent the entire night laughing with their friends at the dinner table and playing cards). I drank a Chinese-ified eggnog and swallowed the bitter taste of unsatisfying proximity.


Whatever. 7th graders didn’t believe in Santa Claus anyways.


HTC One with an AT&T Plan.

My dad helped me pick it out.

Even the mashed potatoes tasted like freedom.

A Hallmark’s Christmas Card.

It was from Alex. Alex!!! And he had written Merry Christmas on it. Merry freaking Christmas!!!

I spent the entirety of the school day “admiring” other people’s gifts, feigning nonchalant interest as I sifted through their cards to see if I could find his blue scrawl of handwriting inked into another person’s paper.

(I couldn’t.)

It was really hard to keep from telling my parents about Alex over Christmas dinner.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling.

Sarah knew what my favorite Harry Potter book was, and I knew her favorite lipstick color. Even though I had to hide it in the shopping cart so my mom wouldn’t see (“Why do eleven-year olds need lipstick?”), and even though Sarah looked absolutely ridiculous, we watched the Harry Potter marathon on ABC Family and helped my mom and dad lug the Christmas tree out from the basement.