(Chinese version of "冰雨 / Freezing Rain" posted on Dec 23 2006)
Last Friday, I was the last one leaving the office. Before I left, I sent out an electronic card to my colleagues and workers in the regions, thanking them for their support in 2006. As I said a few articles back, many organizations were discouraging exchange of gifts, so an electronic card was the most straight forward and simplest. As I exited the office building, the temperature dropped from +23 inside to -1 degree outside. It was drizzling and the rain blurred the neon-light signs from across the street. For an instant I thought I was back in Hong Kong on Nathan Road shopping and preparing for my trip to study overseas. The traffic light changed from green to yellow and the impatient pedestrians who tried to go around me on both sides soon brought me back to reality. I pulled my hat down to my eye brows, pulled the collar up to my chin, took a deep breath of cold air, and merged myself into the tide of homeward bound workers on Christmas Eve.
Upon arriving at the home doorstep, the temperature was still hovering around -1 to -2 degrees. The light shower had turned into freezing rain that coated the sidewalk and the street with about half-an-inch of ice. Under the street light, the water crystals shimmered in the cold air. My neighbors who had come home before me were all sitting around the fireplace having their supper. I could hear the faint laughter through the window frame. Once inside the house, I did not bother to take off my jacket but went straight down to the basement to the spot where my father had used to keep his odds and ends. For years, my father had been the one hanging up the Christmas lights and ever since his death, there had been no decoration outside. For whatever reason, I decided to find and hang up the Christmas lights myself this year, in his absence.
The freezing rain was still coming down but it started to peter out. I stood next to the window, looking at the Christmas lights my father had left behind. The string of decorative lights twinkled in the cold winter air, just like old time. I sipped a mouthful of hot tea to warm myself up and thought to myself: "This seems like a new beginning."