i woke up with the tickle of disease in my throat. maybe because it was so stuffy last night, i had to breathe through my mouth, sucking in gulps of foreign particles. although i had prepared for an early sleep by midnight, i didn't actually sleep until 3am, old habits dying hard. i had romantic notions of the silence of snowfall (compared to the clatter of rain), and how when i got out of bed this morning (this noon), the landscape would be whited in fresh powder. unfortunately this was not the case, it was just overcasted outside, with what appears to be some slight rain. could the much awaited snowpath have deviated, could the people of greater boston missed an opportunity for a white christmas? my street is empty, a lot of people having gone elsewhere to celebrate the holiday, just like when it was thanskgiving. i kind of like the desolation, it suits my antisocialness.

my sister came to pick me up a little bit before 2pm, and with my aunt we went to belmont to meet up with our parents. although we were supposed to leave at 2pm to our family friends' house in topsfield, we didn't leave until almost 3pm. in the car the tension exploded when my sister told my father, who seemed agitated because everyone was taking so long to get ready, that he could "stay home if he didn't want to go." wrong move. my father got out of the car and went back into the house. feeling that the trip was starting to unravel, i said, "i don't want to go either," and i too got out of the car, back into the house. minutes later my mother came in, trying to talk my father into changing his mind. my sister came back in as well, and unable to leave things alone, whatever she said just seemed to make things worse. i think i heard, "fine, don't go!" and my sister stormed outside and i heard the car drive away. the thing i understood was despite all the shouting, i knew we'd end up going, one way or another. chinese people are too concerned with saving face to back out of something like a dinner invitation. so a few more tense minutes later, we piled back into the car once again (my sister returned, her speeding away in the car was all an act), and travels 30 silent minutes to topsfield. it's strange, everyone was so angry back in belmont, but once we were at our friends' house, everyone put on a happy face, like we were a family of actors.

it's amazing what a beautifully renovated house, some cheerful holiday company, a cute little girl, and some good food will do to people. if we were acting before, i think soon everyone was genuinely enjoyed him/herself. our friends (a professional couple with a 3 year old daughter) gave us a tour of their new house (new to us, we've never been there except my sister who babysits occasionally). 4000 square feet (5x larger than my place) and lights of every shape and color, recessed, tracked, chandelier, sconces, it was the works. for some who sees nothing but the renovations of a house, it was a feast for the eyes. the walls were also color, but mostly in subdued shades of pastel, with just a single living room (one of two) in halloween orange. appetizers consisted of shrimps and crab claws, dinner was a honey smoked christmas ham with string beans and asparagus and couscous. after dinner, the daughter performed a few chinese songs in babytalk while her daddy captured the moment on a camcorder. throughout the night, there were several short blackouts (because of the storm), although thanksfully there were many lit candles about the house. for some reason, i didn't take any photos, maybe i just wanted to enjoy the moment, spare these people from the digital eye. or maybe i was insanely jealous of their well furnished home and didn't want any reminders when i go back home. we left at 8pm, with already an inch of snow on the ground and white stuff falling fast. it took us an hour to get back to town, doing 30mph on the highways. my sister dropping me off first in cambridge, before taking everyone else home.

when i got home, invigorated by the fresh snowfall, i got dressed and went outside to shovel the snow from the sidewalk and the steps. afterwards, i walked down to harvard square to see if i can get some good photo ops. the 15 minute walk soaked my sneakers (i don't have any good winter weather footwear), but once i've accepted the fact that i'd be wet, it became fairly pleasant. i got as far as memorial drive, just across the street from the charles river. harvard square was a ghost town, the only vehicles were ambulances and taxis. i came back home, breathless, cold, tired, glad to be dry and warm finally.

so this is christmas.