If I were a better person, I wouldn’t admit this.

But my favorite part of Christmas happened when Maggie and Cliff returned to school after the holiday break. I didn’t need another sack of flour or spool of ribbon. Nothing was left to mail.

I sat down with a cup of coffee and listened to my New Age holiday CDs that cleverly disguise carols behind flutes and strings.  Without feeling stressed, I gazed at the decorations.

Because I’m a storyteller by nature, I’ve always created a plot line for every arrangement displayed, but this year I rushed to cover the surfaces. Things were pulled from boxes and clustered around whatever was already there. As Maggie had handed pieces to me, I mentioned I wanted to write something about it all.

She was quiet for a long time and said, “You know you’ve ended up with an Asian-Fusion approach.”

“Isn’t that something about cooking?” I asked. We’re devoted fans of the Food Network.

“I think that’s Asian-infused, Mom.”

I panicked. Because Maggie is forever politically correct, I feared I’d made a mistake. “Have I committed that horrible ‘cultural appropriation’?” (She once explained that referred to the idea that children learn about other cultures by playing dress up–white children with painted faces and feathers in their hair, pretending to be American Indians. Terribly offensive.)

She assured me I hadn’t crossed a line.

So I’ve taken time to see what she meant, and sure enough, our standard Asian things were indeed thematically entwined with the traditional frou-frou. Our Chinese lady lamp oversaw the Christmas tree. A glass pagoda became a stable. Angels decorated the deer, paused by an unfolded fan. Stone lions protected the Holy Family.

When I told Maggie I wasn’t sure how to connect the dots into a clear thesis, she asked why it had to mean something. She said it made her happy to see her favorite Chinese pieces among the Christmas things. Shouldn’t that be enough?

It was not lost on me that I finally understood her point on January 6th, The Epiphany. I would not be the first adult to be enlightened by a child. All kinds of things are a wonder on their own, just because they are. Just because they make us happy. 

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