The gifts are wrapped, a handful compared to past years. The grocery shopping is done. It'll be a simple meal -- ham, roasted vegetables for those who will eat them and corn for those who won't. Buttercrust rolls. Peppermint ice cream in an oreo chocolate crust.
Brett has entertained family and friends with e-mail from China. When I woke up on the 11th, several notes from him were in my in-box:
Always stop at the hotel counter and have them write down your destination in Chinese
Print the address (in Chinese) from the internet. Give that to the cabbie.
Easy as pie.
s/Brett-somewhere in Shanghai.
Never look out of the taxi driver's front windshield. Always concentrate your eyes out the side windows as to avoid the hysteric reactions you may have.
And now I'm lost
Always double check the address your hotel translates into Chinese for the taxi driver. Otherwise you may find yourself at a border crossing with no papers.
Don't misplace anything. You will not be able to explain the simplest item for them to understand what it is you're describing. Not even remotely!!!
A green hotfoot? No, my green notebook! Not cooked? NOTEBOOK!!! Dammit!
Rule #4-mystery solved!!! Green notebook retrieved.
Fortunately Brett doesn't get upset when these mishaps occur. And he did embellish his telling of his adventures. There was no border problem. The cabbie was unsure of Brett's destination, so Brett called the client's office and a person there instructed the cab driver where he should take Brett. The notebook was left in the back seat of the real estate agent's car and after a phone call to him, the notebook was returned to Brett at his hotel the next day.
In his search for suitable office space and an apartment, Brett went first to Shanghai and then Beijing. The cost to rent an apartment in Beijing is about one-third what it is in Shanghai. He likes both cities for different reasons, so I'm confident he and Michelle will be happy wherever they live.
Michelle flew over last Friday. She sent e-mail saying, "Brett met me at the airport and was kind enough to show up with a bag of crispy fried duck feet." What a guy! Obviously he put a lot of thought into presenting Michelle with something that would make her week's visit memorable. They'll spend the days leading up to Christmas in Hong Kong and then fly home on the 26th.
A few days after Thanksgiving, Sophia was the recipient of the Elf on the Shelf she named Freddie. The first thing she does every morning when she wakes up is search the house to locate Freddie's perch for the day. Brandon isn't ready to talk about the existence of Santa, probably because he realizes that the excitement of Christmas will be diminished if Santa really doesn't arrive with a sleigh filled with toys and come down the chimney but instead pulls into the garage and hurriedly stows packages where little eyes won't find them.
Only a few days until Christmas. I think I'm ready.