This weekend I held my very first family holiday meal ~ a Chinese New Year feast.
I know this might come as a shock to some of you.
Please sit down.
Sit your coffee down so you don’t spill.
I am not Chinese. Or Asian for that matter.
I know, total shocker!
So how does country loving Okie, whose only Asian relative is a toddler go about hosting a Chinese New Year dinner? Friends, books, the internet and catering…that is how! Our immediate family celebrated last year, but this year we wanted to start a family tradition of hosting a big holiday meal at our home for extended family. I probably will never be able to celebrate the holiday and all its traditions in a ‘true’ way. I’m figuring out things as I go. Making mistakes. Learning new things. And just trying.
Our youngest daughter is Chinese and American. After talking to many adults that were adopted internationally as children I have picked up on a few things – everyone is SO DIFFERENT! Some have shared with me that they really don’t have any desire to hold on to the culture of their birth land. Others have expressed how important it is for them to be able to know and understand the culture, traditions and language of the country they were born in. Honestly, it is a huge hot debate for many and I have no desire to get in on all that. I have no idea how Little One will feel. That is her decision. Whatever she chooses won’t be right or wrong – it will be what is right for her. We will support that. However, I also know that it will be much harder to just suddenly start integrating Chinese traditions into our home if we wait until she is old enough to express a desire for that. So, we are starting now. We’ll follow her lead as she grows, but I sure hope she decides to embrace the beauty of what it means to be born in China.
I hope getting red envelopes with money for Chinese New Year will be just as much a part of our family holidays as eating turkey on Thanksgiving. I’ve got a lot to learn and I am sure I will call things by the wrong name or do something the wrong way and some of you will notice. Correct me gently. Help me learn!
Our Chinese New Year celebrations will look a bit different than most. They are a melting pot of our family and that just won’t look like what it does on the other side of the globe. I’m okay with that.
Grandma (Chris’ mom) got the girls new clothes to celebrate
Nana (my mom) and the boys worked weeks to surprise us with a “Snake Dance”. Taking off of the traditional lion dance, they created a paper mache snake (it is the year of the snake) and danced under it. They told me their plan is to create a new one each year. Next year it is the year of the Horse – they are already planning. We passed out Hong Bao (red envelopes), talked about the meanings for using the color red, having oranges around, long noodles, dumplings, etc.
And before we dug into our delicious meal, we took time to thank God for the beautiful gift of family. For 5 healthy children. For having our daughter home celebrating with us this year. For lives rich in the things money can’t buy. And we ate!
The kids got new clothes for a new year. I am guessing flip flops and superhero t-shirts are not the traditional clothes given, but the kids sure liked the idea. My mom made Little One a new doll just in time for the new lunar year too.
As far as I know, this was the first time Little One has worn something like this. FireCracker was so excited. It think the rainboots make the outfit 🙂
So…I have a question for my Chinese friends – FireCracker’s is pink, so I assume it is for girls. However, Little One’s is red – do boys and girls wear this? Someone said they were pajamas. Someone else told me they are everyday clothes. Just curious…
Whatever the case, the girls loved them and looked mighty cute.
Happy Chinese New Year
Gong Hey Fat Choy (Cantonese for Happy Chinese New Year)