February 2, 2013


Saturday morning, and the second month of the year has already begun.

It seems like only yesterday that it was New Years and a week ago was Christmas, and a few days prior, Halloween.  Time flies when you’re having fun… or lack thereof!  For me, 2011 was a crappy year, 2012 was a lot better, and so far, this year is looking better still.

On Saturdays, I generally have two classes – one ‘private’ class (a brother and sister), and another class of five students.  Today however, I canceled the five students’ class due to a prior commitment.

Every year, just before Chinese New Year, Giraffe treats all the teachers and staff to a dinner.  Most of us attend, but there are always a few that, for one reason or another, don’t participate.  This year, we also had a gift exchange.  I was trying to organize a Christmas gift exchange, as in other years, but with all the other things going on, it was decided to postpone this event until the end-of-year party.

The gift exchange is much like “Secret Santa” that I used to participate in when I worked in Canada.  I realize that the places I worked were not the only businesses that would do this, but I can say that I introduced this concept to Giraffe a few years back.  And every year, we try to continue the ‘tradition’.

For those unaware of this “Secret Santa” concept, those who wish to participate, have their names put on slips of paper, and all the slips are put into a ‘hat’.  Then, each of the participants pull one slip of paper from the ‘hat’.  The only thing left to do, is purchase a gift for the person whose name is on the slip.  It is also generally accepted that, should someone pull their own name, that slip gets put back in the ‘hat’, and another slip is drawn.

There is usually a limit set on the gift.  The upper and lower limits are to make it fair for everyone.  If anyone chooses to go over the limit, then that is their prerogative.  And I must admit, I am usually one of those people who go over the limit… especially for someone I am happy to have chosen their name.

This year, I was the final person to chose the slip.  Well, it wasn’t so much chosen, as it was given to me.  The choosing of names happened before I arrived at school.  The name given me was Sabrina.

A little bit about Sabrina.

Sabrina has been teaching at Giraffe for as long as, or perhaps longer, than me.  I always enjoy seeing her.  She’s always got a great smile, easy to talk to, and in my own opinion, an all round beautiful human being.  A few years back, she married a wonderful man, Grant Chiang.  Although Grant doesn’t speak a lot of English, he too, is a wonderful guy.  Personally, I think they are a perfect couple.

Last year, Sabrina had a little boy.  Until today, at dinner, I have never seen her boy.  Well, pictures on Facebook, but that’s about it.  And what a cute little guy he is!  Not quite a year old, and he’s already running around.  I hope Sabrina teaches him English at the same time as he’s learning Chinese.

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Anyway, I was, so say the least, thrilled that I got her name.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to get her.  After a couple of days, and not really giving it much thought, I found something.  I bought a couple of little jackets for her son.  I knew that the gift really should be for Sabrina, and not her son.  But the jackets were just too cute.

Then I asked my friend Ian, if his mother had any ‘antiques’ that she would consider selling to me as a gift.  His mother showed me something, and wanted to give it to me – no charge.  I didn’t feel right about that.  To me, it felt like Ian’s mom was giving the present to Sabrina, and not me.  I did finally pay for the item.  It was an antique teapot, 2 cups, and a creamer.  Although Chinese people don’t usually put cream in their tea, it was part of the set.  His mom said there was also a sugar bowl, but she couldn’t find it.  No problem.

A week or so goes by, and I happened to be in a new bakery in the university area.  They had some boxes of different cakes, that I know, Chinese people really like.  So I chose 4 different boxes.  Then a couple of days later, there was a market of sorts, set up around the baseball stadium.  I went for a little walk and saw a couple of things I thought would be great items to give.  A box of mixed nougat, and a box of interlocking toy pieces, obviously something for Sabrina’s son.

The box contained three different styles of pieces, and some wheels.  Similar to Lego, the various pieces can be put together to make various ‘toys’.  I figured this would be something that dad and son could have a lot of fun with together – once little one is old enough.

With that, I figured I had spent enough.  Also, it was going to be a big box to give as a gift!  I used some red wrapping paper, sprinkles, and a bow.  If I say so myself, it looked nice.  And yes, it was the largest gift anyone at the dinner received.  It seemed that Sabrina was not only surprised, but was very happy with her gift.  To me and my belief in giving in gifts, as the saying goes, it’s better to give, than to receive.

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I got a bottle of wine, a thermos, a couple of coupons for ‘something’ (it’s all in Chinese, so I’ll have to get a translation), and a jar with the restaurant’s logo on it.  The meal was fantastic, and I had a great time.  It would have been fun to go to KTV afterwards, but no one seemed too eager to do that.  Oh well, maybe next year!

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Thanks to Janice and Simon, the management of Giraffe Nanmen, for another wonderful year-end dinner.  One more week of work, then off for 9 days for Chinese New Year.

That’s it, that’s all… for now!

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