Christmas in Any Language

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is baking and sharing homemade “goodies.” One year, just before Christmas, a new family moved into our neighborhood—two houses up and across the street from us. Since I was already baking some Christmas teacakes covered with red, green and yellow sugar crystals, I made an extra dozen for our new neighbors. I placed them in a decorative jar and tied a festive red ribbon around the top.

Planning a trip to town, I decided to drop off the jar of colorful teacakes on my way. Since most of our neighbors were young couples with children, I was surprised when an elderly Chinese gentleman greeted me at the door in broken English.
I tried to explain the reason for my gift—to welcome them to our neighborhood—but Mr. Chung’s eyes filled with confusion. This was not the quick stop I had planned. I wanted to plunk the jar of sweets into my neighbor’s hands, wish him a Merry Christmas and be on my way but communication proved difficult.   

Outside of my native tongue, I was fairly fluent in Spanish, had survival skills in French and knew a few German phrases. I even remembered sparse greetings in Russian and Japanese, but I didn’t know a single word of Chinese.   

Mr. Chung followed me to the car, asking me to point out the exact house in which I lived. After several tries with words, pointing and gestures, he seemed content in knowing who I was and where I lived. He returned to his house and I jumped into my car, anxious to get to town and to my appointment.

The following Saturday, my doorbell rang and there