Camy Tang is a loud Asian chick who writes loud Asian chick-lit. Her debut novel, Sushi for One?, released in September 2007. She grew up in Hawaii, but now lives in San Jose, California, with her engineer husband and rambunctious poi-dog. In a previous life she was a biologist researcher, but these days she is surgically attached to her computer, writing full-time. In her spare time, she is a staff worker for her church youth group, and she leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service.
On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every Monday and Thursday, and she ponders frivolous things like dumb dogs (namely, hers), coffee-geek husbands (no resemblance to her own…), the writing journey, Asiana, and anything else that comes to mind. Visit her website at http://www.camytang.com/ for more on Camy and her books.
Tell us about your first Christmas memory?
My first Christmas memory was when I was 3 or 4 years old. In Hawaii, there are these miniature pine cones about the size of grapes. Mom took cardboard circles with a hole in the center and a radial cut, and made cones with fabric glued to the outside. She stuck a pine cone in the center hole, and we made wings from paper. It wasn’t my first Christmas ornament (Mom had bought me one for every Christmas as a holiday tradition) but it was the first ornament I remember making. I enjoyed the time spent with Mom making those angels.
Growing up, did your family have Christmas traditions? Tell us how you incorporated them into your family life. Or, how you created new ones.
As mentioned above, Mom bought me and my brother a new ornament every Christmas. It was fun because she’d often buy ornaments that epitomized our interests that year. For example, when The Muppet Movie came out, she bought us Miss Piggy and Kermit ornaments.
I don’t have children to buy ornaments for–and actually, since we don’t have kids, we’re expected to visit one or other of our parents at Christmas, so we don’t even have a tree at our home since all our presents are wrapped up and shipped to either Arizona or Hawaii.
However, if we do have children, I’d like to do the same for them–create a small, relatively inexpensive legacy in the Christmas ornaments bought for them each year.
When do you put up your tree? At my house, it goes up when my kids’ begging is louder than my procrastination (around December 1). My husband works assembles my prelighted tree. I do the rest. Describe the decorating at your house.
We don’t do much because we’re traveling the week before Christmas, but I took an idea from an old roommate of mine. She’s a wizard when it comes to garage sales, and found an artificial wreath for her mother, who decorated it with ornaments and a short string of lights.
Let me preface this with a story from my wedding–we were married in December, mostly because that was the earliest date we could reserve the fabulous Chinese restaurant who hosted our reception. Since it was a December wedding, my colors were red and white, and we had a cake decorator make our three-tiered circular cake look like a Christmas tree, with a Hawaiian maile leaf lei as a garland. My mom bought a bunch of Hawaiian-themed Christmas ornaments, which we scattered around the base.
There’s a picture of it here:
Fast forward to Christmas. I found a nice artificial wreath at GoodWill, then decorated it with the ornaments from our wedding and some fake hibiscus flowers. I strung some lights in it, and it became a lovely wall hanging to greet everyone who entered the house. It’s also great because we can easily put it up every year, and not worry about it dying while we’re visiting family over Christmas.
What is your favorite Christmas song or album? I recently bought Unexpected Gifts and I love it! They are old favorites sung in a new way. Includes “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” (Bethany Dillon); “Do You Hear What I Hear” (Nichole Nordeman); “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (Steven Curtis Chapman); and “Silent Night” (Sanctus Real).
Since I’m a worship leader at my church, I get at least one set during December (we have four worship teams, and we do one Sunday a month).
There are certain Christmas songs I enjoy, such as “O Come O Come Emmanuel”–the melody is so haunting, and the words so powerful, that it feels like a prayer when I sing it. I like the control (have you guessed I’m a control freak yet???) of being able to pick which Christmas songs to sing during my stint as worship leader, and my favorites get played every year. Luckily, the other worship leaders don’t care for my favorites very much, so I don’t often overlap songs!
Christmas morning, my parents brother and I would head over to my grandparents’ house and open all our presents there. Or they’d come to our house … so we didn’t open them until we were up, dressed, showered and fed. Relive your childhood Christmas mornings for us.
My parents always shopped for a Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving. It was partly because Hawaii usually only gets ONE shipment of trees, and if you don’t get yours quick, there’ll only be Charlie Brown trees left. The great thing about getting the tree so early was that we’d have the smell of pine in the house for over a month.
On Christmas eve, we’d usually have dinner with one or other of my aunties and uncles. My brother and I and any cousins who were there could each open one present (mostly I think to keep us quiet while the adults talked).
My parents let my brother and I sleep around the tree on Christmas eve, and we’d wake up EARLY on Christmas morning to batches of presents from Santa magically appearing. However, when I was young, my dad had the swing shift and would work on Christmas eve, so we couldn’t open any presents under the tree until he arrived home on Christmas morning. However, Mom had made us these huge stockings that were also magically filled with little presents, and we could open those while waiting.
Mom still makes stockings. Here’s a picture of one I recently gave away on my newsletter YahooGroup: Here’s a low-resolution picture:
Seems to me snow and Christmas go together, and in Montana that’s almost a given! Tell us about your Christmas setting?
Um … having grown up in Hawaii, and now living in California … what’s snow?
It’s Christmas Eve. Describe your day and evening.
We’re usually at a relative’s house. My in-laws and brother-in-law both have the same tradition as my family of opening one present on Christmas eve, so after a HUGE dinner (either at a restaurant or cooked up by my genius sister-in-law), we sit around the tree and watch the kids try to decide which present to open.
Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?
ON-LINE! Crowds scare me, believe it or not. Amazon is my friend. 🙂
Christmas grows more and more commercial every year. Setting the hustle and bustle aside, what does Christmas really mean to you?
It’s all about food and family. This year, we’re heading to Arizona, where my in-laws live, and also where my uncle moved last year, so I’ll get to see folks from both sides of our family. My Chinese in-laws (especially my sister-in-law) either cook really good Chinese food or know how to order really good Chinese food, so I’m looking forward to happiness in my mouth while chatting with relatives I haven’t seen all year. My cousin is flying in from Colorado, and I haven’t seen him in a year or two. It’s only a short trip this year because Captain Caffeine has to return to work early.
It’s Christmas day. what’s for dinner? Do you make cookies or other traditional foods?
Usually, there’s the traditional turkey and occasionally prime rib, but I’m always looking forward to the great Chinese food–black bean sauce clams, chow mein, Chinese-style sea bass, Chinese-style fried chicken wings. Yum!
My sister-in-law also makes this egg sponge cake that’s to DIE for! Even my parents will make the trip to Arizona for Christmas just for the chance to have this treat. She makes a few other cookies, but that sponge cake is the highlight of dessert, for me.
Tell us about your favorite Christmas memory.
Before my grandpa died, we’d have Christmas dinner usually at our house.
After lots of good Japanese food, the men would gather around the dining table playing poker for nickel stakes. Grandpa was the one who liked playing poker, and it was only on Christmas that he got to play with so many people.
I remember learning poker from my dad as he played next to Grandpa, getting mad at me for revealing to my uncles what his hand was.
Any final thoughts on Christmas?
This year, I’m enjoying the gifting part because I’m making so many gifts–I’m knitting! Hawaii people don’t get cold weather very often, but because it’s Hawaii, no one has central heating in their house. My parents’ house will drop down to the 30s and 40s during the wintertime. So I’m knitting a slew of wool socks. It’s hard to find wool socks in Hawaii, for obvious reasons. 🙂
Thanks for having me here, Tricia! This was fun!
No, thank you Camy for joining me! Merry Christmas!