Tuesday, December 14, 2010


This is the first Christmas Card I’ve ever received from my father. At my 31 years of age, it was fifteen years in the making. I assumed it was a twenty dollar bill sandwiched in a Hallmark, to make up for lost time. A tax. I stuffed it in my purse and we walked into the restaurant for “catch up family dinner.” And I pre-empted the duty with wet-eyed boasting that I loathe Christmas.

Anne: It reminds me of all the things I want but don’t have.
Dad: You’re too young to hate the holidays. You gotta take it easy.
Anne: So… what about that North Korea, eh? Crazy town.

He tells me I ate a lot of sashimi as a toddler. When I was three all I wanted was sashimi. My sister laughs, “and what did I eat?” she asks.

Dad: You ate a lot of udon.

So funny. No wonder we look nothing alike, my sister and me.
She tells me she’s jealous of our ability to converse at length in Japanese about “issues.” Like North Korea’s embargo on conversations about Christmas joy.

Dad tells me we ought to go hiking/camping soon, but that I probably couldn’t handle the mountain he’d take us to. It’s 8 hours of difficult climbing, he says. It takes five teeth to hold my tongue.

As we part ways he tells me to call on him for moral support more often. I want to punch him in the face with my saddest stories. But I am satisfied. We’re one small step closer to whatever that pit was he left when I turned sixteen.

I open the Christmas Card in my sister’s parking lot, and I cannot read the English.
I cannot read the English.
I cannot read the English.
I cannot read the English, because the handwritten Japanese, in a beautiful long-hand I’d always tried to emulate, blinded me.

This is for 15 years of Christmases I missed.
I hope we have more now.

I am buried in the fear of an emotion I worried I would never have again, but I am going to use this fear to create a courage. To take the risk fifteen years in the making, of refusing to fight.

Tonight, I become a pacifist.

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