Cancun Renewal

Who can imagine that was a former fishing village thirty years ago?

Surrounded by Caribbean sea, Cancun today has renewed its natural wonder with beautiful white sand beaches and crystalline turquoise waters. Walking barefoot in the sand awakens all my senses.

The beach is not the only attraction for Cancun. The ancient and the promise of the return of Kukulcan invite me to explore its endless wonders and mysteries.

A parasail over the Cancun sky gives a bird-eye view of its unprecedented beauty. Feeling like a bird flying into the infinite blueness, my heart sings with ultimate joy!

Looking back, a year has passed with much to be grateful; and looking ahead, another year is coming with more to be hopeful!

Celebrating the True Spirit of Christmas

A few years ago, my husband and I went to China to visit my parents. It was in early November, just began to get chilly, and the beautiful West Lake was covered with heavy clouds as if wearing a grey veil.

As we checked in to Shangri-la Hotel, my husband was surprised to see a huge Christmas tree, decorated with dazzling lights and sparkling adornments, in the mid of the lobby. He looked around quickly to make sure we were actually in China, and then murmured to me jokingly: “Isn’t this the ‘communist China’?”

For westerners, it may seem bizarre that celebrating Christmas has become so popular in China while most Chinese don’t believe in Christianity. In the West, even though Christmas has grown out of its original purpose as a Christian holiday to honor the birth of Christ, it still has its religious connotation. For example, my Jewish friends don’t celebrate Christmas. I believe most Muslins don’t celebrate Christmas either.

However, for Chinese, particularly among young people, celebrating Christmas is considered a fashionable thing to do rather than anything that has to do with religion. They see it as a sign of “being modern,” which struck me as an irony for a two thousand years old tradition. For them, Christmas is a time to have colorful decoration, to exchange gifts, and to relax and have fun with friends. As my mother put it: “oh, those foreign holidays – they are for the young people!”

The commercial part of Christmas may have played a big role in China too. Few children can resist the story of Santa Claus who is riding with reindeers in a sleigh to deliver their presents from the sky! My little niece, who was 7 years old at the time, was very excited about Christmas: “I want to have my stockings ready so that Santa can leave me gifts!” I noticed she didn’t say Santa would come in from the chimney since Chinese live in condominiums where there are no chimneys.

This reminded me of my American nephew. In the United States, most kids start to figure out that there is no Santa Claus by the age of 7, either being told by older kids or from their own logic thinking. However, for children who have grown up with their hopes and dreams in the fantasy of Santa Claus, it’s hard for them to come to this realization. My nephew, for example, refused to believe what other kids had told him and relentlessly held on to the idea that Santa actually came down from the chimney of his house and brought him all the wonderful presents. Imagine how sad and confused he was when he finally realized all these were not true. Some kids may even feel deceived and wonder why their parents are part of the game.

Although Chinese adopt Christmas for a very different reason, it is an indication that Chinese people, especially the young people who represent the future, are embracing different cultures and traditions. The question is how long is too long before people start to reflect on the deeper meaning of Christmas. We don’t have to be Christian to appreciate Jesus Christ’s teaching. Even after two thousand years, His teaching on “love thy neighbors” still has the significance: today, we are living in a global village, and “thy neighbors” may be across the globe.

It is my hope that one day children like my Chinese niece and my American nephew, although oceans apart, will celebrate the true spirit of Christmas together!

Home: What Unites Us as a Nation

At Commonwealth Club’s book signing event in Santa Clara Convention Center, the former Senator and Vice President Candidate John Edwards talked to a roomful enthusiastic crowd about his new book Home, and how our homes shape the ways of our lives and unite us as a nation.

The conversation with John Edwards quickly turned into political discussions. Many questions from the audience surrounded the issues of housing, energy crisis, healthcare, immigration, etc. In particular, people were most interested in his political future. When asked which room in his home is his favorite and which room in the White House, John Edwards answered “the kitchen” for the former and “don’t know YET” for the later.

In his short speech, John Edwards said that America at its best is much better than it is today. Being the most powerful country in the world, the United States has the responsibility to lead and should be a natural rallying point that provides a stabilizing force for the world. However, the US has lost its credibility to lead, and it has many severe consequences.

“The next President of the United States,” said John Edwards, “has the challenge to restore America as a moral leader – to lead by example and lead with integrity. If we do right things for right reasons, be moral and just, it will have good consequences.”

He talked about his plans to develop affordable housing that transcends ethnic and class boundaries for American people, conserve energy consumption at a global level, and deliver a universal healthcare that goes beyond providing access and reducing marginal cost.

He also emphasized that the next President should travel all over the world and meet people, not just the heads of states. I was impressed when I heard him say that there are 3 billion people in the world who live on less than $2 a day and America has responsibility to do something about it.

I particularly like his theme of “One America” and his view on globalization. At the book signing, he took time to talk to people and personalize his autograph. Although I don’t know much about politics, I was convinced that John Edwards would make a good President of the United States. I am glad I was courageous enough to tell him in person!