Thursday, 31 December 2009

New York, December 20, 2009

It's 4am, and we're due to leave for Hong Kong in less than 7 hours. I'm very relieved to hear the front door open: Mike and Roxana have retrieved Gina from Penn Station, where she arrived at 3 in the morning after struggling up from Washington in the worst blizzard in years. Gina, a freshman at Georgetown, had an exam that didn't finish until 6pm yesterday. She trudged through two feet of snow with her backpack to the metro and caught the first train heading north for a long, slow journey to New York so that we could catch our Sunday flight to Hong Kong.

We're heading off for a long-planned Christmas in Hong Kong to commemorate my father, Max Oxford's escape from the fallen colony on Christmas Day, 1941. For the past year I've been working as a founder member of the Hong Kong Escape Re-enactment Organisation, or HERO, to plan a museum exhibition and a week's worth of events in Hong Kong and China to mark the 68th anniversary of the miraculous escape of 68 men right after Hong Kong's surrender to Japan. With members on four continents, our executive committee of 7 has exchanged daily emails and met via Skype with increasing intensity as the reunion approaches. From small beginnings, we've attracted a group of eighty fellow descendants to travel to Hong Kong for the events over Christmas. We represent four generations, ranging from a 90-year old widow of the commander of one of the escape vessels, to great-grandchildren as young as two.

Our family - my husband, Mike, plus our daughters, Roxie (a senior at George Washington University) and Gina (the Georgetown freshman) - are foregoing our traditional Christmas in Devon to be part of the re-enactment. After snow delays, we land three hours late the evening of 22nd, but we are among the luckier travelers - snow in Europe causes havoc for everyone coming from the UK and some reach Hong Kong as much as 48 hours late. We're pleased to reach our very comfortable rooms at the J W Marriott above Pacific Place in Central, and to run into some of our friends from the MacDougall family.