Thursday, January 3, 2008

Unexpected Joy or A Fresh Perspective on Those Annoying Little Poppers

The things which we take for granted can sometimes be measured in the smiles, and laughter of those who still find them novel and new. This delightful discovery took place on the afternoon of New Year's Eve. It was an experience that occurred so quickly, that it could have been missed, but sitting in our kitchen with our new Chinese friend, I suddenly realized that I had the rare opportunity to look at our world through fresh, inquisitive eyes. Eyes that had never been outside of China before, let alone to the United States. Eyes which belonged to a very dear, and very curious thirty three year old woman from Beijing, China.

Several months ago, my oldest angel had the opportunity to visit China and Tibet for a month via a program through her university. We are very fortunate to be able to afford her these opportunities, and as a young woman, I think that it is important for her to take every chance that she has to visit other countries. Of course, I was nervous about sending her to a country that I know very little about and had never been to myself, but I also know that I must allow my angel daughters to spread their wings as they are ready. My oldest is a very responsible, mature young woman who takes learning seriously. I knew that by allowing her to embark on this journey which would take her thousands of miles away from home, I would also be honoring her love of learning. This is something that I could not resist.

When my daughter arrived in China with her university group, they were assigned a tour guide. Each day, as I spoke to my daughter by international cellphone, I would sometimes hear a sing-song voice, speaking fairly good English in the background. I came to find out that this was "Joy", the woman who led my daughter through China, as only a native could do. I took solace in the knowledge that my daughter would be in the capable hands of someone named Joy. I was comforted by the feeling that someone who would choose this as her English name, had to be a kind-hearted, happy individual.

Several days ago, I received a phone call from my eldest angel. "Mom, Joy is here in California, and I was wondering if she could come home with me for dinner. Oh yes, and I think that we will be spending the night as well."

Now, just to give you an idea about what most of my days are like, I am very attached to my fleecy pajamas. I spend a lot of time in them. My illness precludes me from going out of my house with any frequency, and so, I am often still in my cozy p.j.'s after showering during the day. My daughter's friends, and anyone else who comes to our home with any frequency, are fully aware of and are used to my "wardrobe". This is not usually a problem for me. The problem arises when I am going to receive an unexpected visitor. One whom I have never met before, who knows nothing about my illness and my daily routine. One who happens to be visiting from another country. One who has never been to the US before! Realizing that I was about to become a Representative for the United States of America, I quickly panicked, checked the fridge and pantry to search out some ingredients to make some dinner, and got dressed. Thank goodness we had the ingredients to prepare Lasagna, Garlic Bread, Salad, and Apple Pie, on hand.(Sounds pretty darn American to me!) By the time my daughter and Joy arrived at our home, I was fully dressed and had dinner simmering in the oven. We greeted Joy, and I welcomed her to our home by thanking her for taking such great care of my daughter during her visit to China. She was quite gracious and friendly, and after the initial awkward stage that occurs when meeting someone new, we all warmed up to each other quickly. Joy, although somewhat reserved and unsure of how she should behave, turned out to be a lovely young lady with a warm smile and a quick laugh. We enjoyed our meal together, and then the girls went to sleep early because they were both very tired. My daughter and Joy returned for dinner again, on New Year's Eve. This time, I was much more relaxed about things. My sweet husband decided to treat Joy to a good old American barbecue complete with Burgers, Grilled Chicken, and Corn on the Cob. I found talking to Joy about life in China to be fascinating. She is a very engaging young lady and we truly enjoyed her company.

After dinner, my daughter and Joy were getting ready to go back to her house at the university to enjoy Joy's very first New Year's Eve celebration. I felt a bit sorry for her because she was going to spend the evening with a bunch of young college students who were quite a bit younger than her thirty three years. I decided that it would be an interesting experience for her, and that it would give her some more stories to bring back to her home country. On our table, there were some of those little popper bottles which the kids open at midnight. They make a godforsaken noise and spew colorful streamers out all over the place. I have never really liked them, but I humor my children once a year, and allow them to knock themselves out by setting them off at midnight. Joy spotted the colorful little bottles on the table and asked what they were. Assuming that she would understand the explanation, we described the effect that these little plastic bottles of noise and mess would have after releasing the tops off of the bottles. With a puzzled look, she seemed not to understand. Hence, the hands on demonstration that took place. After explaining that she needed to shoot the bottle away from her face, my daughters showed her how to let 'em rip! I think that the photos above describe the reaction that she had, better than I can. Her surprise and laughter was almost like that of a child who was experiencing the poppers for the very first time. She was adorable. We sent her home with an extra package to share with her friends and family. The things that we Americans expose the rest of the world to, sometimes!

And so, here is Joy experiencing the joy of shooting off her first plastic poppers, noise, streamers and all. I know that this is a very small thing, but sometimes the smallest things, viewed through the freshest of eyes, can turn out to leave the very biggest of impressions. We live in a country where our freedoms are vast, unlimited and plentiful. Joy comes from a country that is restrictive, heavily monitored, and quite serious. To be able to observe someone who comes from such a place participating in a moment of such spontaneous, reflexive joy, was a moment which I know that my family will not soon forget.

Upon my reflection of this whole experience, I decided that the wish that I have for you, is to remind yourself to try and catch the joy in the smallest, seemingly most unimportant moments which can pass by in a flash, but which sometimes leave the largest impressions. May you take the time, in 2008, to view little things through fresh, unexpecting, inquisitive eyes. You might just find some joy in the most everyday places.


Ness said...

Thanks for sharing this experience. I enjoyed reading about Joy.


Wonderful World of Weiners said...

What a nice entry. How great to remember that not everyone is as jaded to the small things as we sometimes seem to be.

I will try to keep that in mind as I work my way through 2008.

Thanks. :-)

Scarlett Wanna Be said...

I love how you savor moments. I enJoyed this post. What a blessing that you could welcome her into your home!

Humble Origins said...

...I am sure that Joy will return to her homeland with a joyous heart and endearing stories to tell of her kind and loving American family...

...I too loved this post - what a sweet reminder! Thank you Debra!

...Blessings... :o)

Debra w said...

Ness, Hallie, Scarlett and TJ,

Thank you for stopping by and sharing this experience with me!


I am very glad to know that you are still out there, even though you discontinued your blog! It makes me happy to see your name.

Hugs to all!

ed said...


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