The most important holiday on the Chinese calendar, Chinese New Year celebrates not only the changing of the seasons but also the spiritual side of a new beginning.
Homes are scrubbed from top to bottom to sweep out any ill fortune and welcome in good luck. Debt is repaid and sometimes forgiven… squabbles are settled and peace is offered…it is both mental and physical clean slate.
There is feasting and firecrackers and paper envelopes with money… that’s right check, check, and CHECK!
My family likes all those things.
As a mother to a child born in China, I look at this holiday as a chance to keep my daughter connected to the country of her birth and honor those traditions most important to it.
For the past few years we have celebrated with two other families who also have children born in China and there is something rather special about watching all our girls together… they have a bond that they don’t recognize… but we do and we take a certain comfort from knowing that they have each other in their lives.
We feast. Oh yes, we feast. We order take away from a most delicious restaurant and eat noodles for a long life and fight over the last dumpling and accept the fact that we will never eat all the rice they insist on including with our dinner.
We don’t do firecrackers because exploding things is illegal in our neck of the woods, but we do wear fetching Chinese dresses… well, okay, the little girls wear fetching Chinese dresses, we wear jeans.
But the jeans are fetching.
The traditional red envelopes (with crisp $1 bills inside) are handed out and the girls whisper about what treasures they plan to buy… apparently, when you are 7, $1 goes a long way.
Every year I hope my envelope will have a couple of extra “0′s” on the bill, but alas, it has yet to be…
If we’re on our game we’ve usually come up with either a craft or a game for the kids to do while the ladies play (badly) mahjong and the men throw back a few Tsingtaos and we always end up talking about our time in China… when we met our beautiful babies and how very much we want to go back and how very much we love the place of our daughters’ birth.
And now we’ve had fortune cookies and our girls are knackered and dragging and it’s time to wish our friends good luck in this coming year… and so we head back to our (clean) home with full bellies and fuller hearts, wishing our friends nothing but prosperity and knowing that we are already full of good luck.