Tag Archives: Stories about Mom

“Pashwa’s” Name

A quick post for a Friday afternoon…

Names… as the Christmas cards are coming in this year, I realized that everyone in my family has finally starting to spell P’s name consistently correct after more than 6 years. He used to get all sorts of variations, often with “Os” and “Zs” and “Ss” and “Hs” included (letters that he doesn’t have in his name at all!) For example, my dad used to write his name as “Pazz” for several years, while one of my favorite variations is “Pashwa” which my Grandmother still kinda calls him, along with my little cousins who honestly think this is his name due to her mispronunciation. It’s kind of cute and endearing, even if it isn’t correct. I always get a smile when I hear my Grandmother ask, “How’s Pashwa doing?”

The uniqueness of P’s name (in my culture) has helped to keep him a memorable character in the minds of my little cousins. Several are still at an age where it is challenging for them to remember the names of people they don’t see everyday. At Thanksgiving I was christened “Aunt Eileen” (wha?) since the little guy couldn’t initially remember my real name, but “Pashwa” they remember right away. They all want to sit next to him, hold his hand, chat with him (he even had to escort one to the bathroom at a restaurant!) When he walks in a room you can hear little kids yell “Pashwa!” while they run over to greet him.

I mentioned before that it took me a while to remember P’s real name. The first week or two I knew him I thought his name was Parajuli (another friend’s last name that is similar sounding). This was just the first in a long line of my family members butchering his name. Luckily he has an easily pronounceable last name, or my family would have been doomed to mispronouncing it forever.

But one of the funniest stories about his name comes from one of his initial conversations with my mother. It was around the same time he had the Christmas in Nepal conversation with her. We shared a ride home from school and he planned to stay a night with my family and meet them before we dropped him at the local airport for traveling home to Nepal. I had talked to my mother about him before, and she had seen his name written out but it didn’t register with her. It went something like this:

Mom: “Does your name translate into something in English?”

P: [honestly ponders this question for a few minutes…] “Well, I guess you could say light or maybe bright light.

Mom: [looks a bit puzzled, this was not the way she expected him to answer the question. The look on her face was absolutely priceless. She was thinking something like Pierre is the French form of Patrick, and P is the Nepali version of Peter] “Huh? Light? I was thinking Peter or Paul or something like that. Don’t you have an English name?”

P: “No, I guess I’m just P_______ or you can call me P__ for short.”

Poor guy.

I have one of those names as well, which is easily mispronounced by people unfamiliar with it. The mispronunciation isn’t as drastic as P’s but it still happens. I guess it runs in the family now. Just wait until we have hypothetical kids.

Christmas Cards

Sorry I’ve been missing for a little bit. It’s actually a little embarrassing, but I’ll be honest… I started watching the television series “Lost” through the streaming video available online on Netflix, and I’ve been quite hooked. It’s tough to stop watching when the weather stinks outside, the days are short and dark, the apartment is chilly, and I know there is another episode waiting for me if I push the play button from under the warm blankets. Plus mysterious island intrigue and never-ending episodic cliff hangers don’t help ;)

In order to make myself feel less guilty about spending most of the weekend glued to the computer screen, I tried to kill two birds with one stone and do my Christmas cards while watching.

This is a holiday tradition I really enjoy, but I think P finds it all very amusing. Every year I buy the cards and stamps, organize a long list, track down missing addresses and spend hours writing out cards and envelopes (yeah I know, I’m not in the 21st century with electronic address lists and printed labels). I stack up the finished cards, have P sign, then I seal them and send them on their way.

“You’re such an American,” he was teasing me the other day while I passed him a big stack to sign (while “Lost” was briefly paused, of course). I usually try to get him to write more than just his name but he generally answers with, “you said everything I would have said anyway.” I think he finds it interesting that most cards come to us with very little writing in them, usually just a quick “merry Christmas, happy new year” and signature, so he doesn’t really “get” the whole purpose if the card isn’t really saying much.

“It’s the gesture.” I explain, “someone was thinking about you, wanted to stay connected. It’s the thought that counts.” Conversely, sometimes we receive cards with newsletters in them giving a long year in review. I particularly enjoy these, especially with people I haven’t been in much contact with, and I think P is amused by the extremes between the two types of cards one can receive. Often family will send cards with pictures of their children, and those are nice to see as well.

I think what also amuses him is the process. Deciding who gets a card and who doesn’t, and if he notices changes to “the list” from year to year he likes to comment on it, “ohhhh… so and so didn’t make it on the list! What did they do?” As my beloved Wikipedia says, “Because cards are usually exchanged year after year, the phrase ‘to be off someone’s Christmas card list’ is used to indicate a falling out between friends or public figures.”

This isn’t necessarily the case for me—sometimes it depends on if I send lots of  cards over the years but never get one back, then people might get bumped from “the list” with no hard feelings (particularly if I’m running low on cards or stamps). Occasionally someone isn’t meant to be on “the list” but we receive a card out of the blue, and they then make it back on “the list.” Sometimes people don’t get a card because they wouldn’t expect one (this happens when I’m running low on supplies as well), or if their address isn’t confirmed, or if we finally just lost touch. I always ask if P wants to add someone to “the list” but he thinks of the annual project as my own, so he usually lets me ultimately decide. I’m always willing to add if he is interested.

My friend AD (I should probably change his name to Tundal45) “gets” the Christmas card thing. He started sending them a few years back because it was a great “networking tool” to stay connected with people he knew but didn’t get to interact with on a daily basis. He sends the cards to friends, mentors and other important people in his life because it is nice to have an excuse once a year to touch base. I’m definitely of the same opinion. Even if I don’t send a newsletter (I know, surprising, I bet you guys pegged me for the long Christmas newsletter type. Not yet, but I’m sure someday), and I only write a brief tidbit in the card, at least the person knows that they were in our thoughts and the connection continues.

Not to mention, we get a lot of junk mail. With the advent of e-bills, 95% or more of P and my regular mail is junk. It is disappointing as an adult to know most of our mail is shredded and recycled. As a kid I loved running out and checking the mailbox, I was on a first name basis with our mail lady, I had multiple pen pals from around the world and I loved getting personal cards, postcards and letters through the post. The feeling lingers, and I enjoy this time of year when I can sift through the junk we receive on a daily basis and see colorful envelopes with handwritten addresses. I enjoy opening them, reading them, and taping them up around the doorway in the living room, like my Grandmother, to be displayed until New Years.

So… thanks to my “Lost” addiction, 99% of my Christmas cards are in the mail. So be on the lookout (you know who you are), and I’ll be on the lookout for mine :)