Gōng Xǐ Fā Cái
(恭喜發財) Congratulations and Prosperity!
Chinese New Year has arrived; it lasts for fifteen days. This tradition holds a very special meaning for us since two of our children were born in China. It is an exciting and reflective time in our family. This year we celebrate the second animal to arrive at the Jade Emperor’s party (as Chinese folklore tells it), the serious, patient and hardworking Ox.
2009 is the year of the Yin Earth Ox. According to the Hsia calendar, this year is symbolized by two elements, the earth sitting on the earth, representing a pure earth time – “Yin Earth”. Because earth and earth are like brothers they do not have a birth or destructive relationship with one another. This bodes well for 2009, these elements express a time for peace, harmony, and healing international relationships.
What does the Miller family do during Chinese New Year? Well, anyone who knows me knows that I try not to clean; I don’t want to sweep out the good spirits. I also don’t wash my hair during the first three days of the New Year (good fortune might be washed out). The kids have had their hair cuts, symbolizing fresh starts. We decorate the house, being sure to have the couplets, with messages of good fortune, hung by the doors. Long noodles are eaten along with other lucky foods, such as whole fish and mandarin oranges. The kids delight in passing around the hong bao (red envelopes filled with money or chocolate coins). The auspicious color red is worn (it scares away Nian, the monster, too). We make lanterns, visit friends to spread good wishes for the coming year, and attend and have celebrations. The kids’ favorite event is the lion dance. The performance is fun and powerful.
Mark, Josi and Aubry
In my household, politics run the gamut (amok, like my kids). The elections provided some interesting times: discussions about how our government is meant to work, American and Korean relations, and the coveted voting privileges. My kids lobbied their choices hard. They felt very strongly about some of the candidates and were itching to vote. Would we cast ours for them?
The one argument for voting for a specific candidate came from Aubry, my youngest daughter. “Mama, you need to vote for Bama.” – Okay, granted she was on the cusp of turning “9” at the time. She was not focused on the state and local level elections, like her sister Josi. I wondered why this was the case.
So, I asked my sweet girl why she felt Bama was her man. Her answer was , “His skin is the same color as mine.” Wow. And interesting. I hadn’t thought about that. But, in the ensuing days and weeks that raced toward the elections, I heard it spoken often. Daily.
My other kids felt no affinity for his complexion. Holden was more concerned about how a change in the party and its doctrines might affect his father’s business. Josi had no interest at all; she was all about the governor’s race. Greyson was getting ready to turn seven years old. He couldn’t even think of anything else. Our South Korean exchange student, Jae, worried about possible changes in the occupation of U.S. troops in the DMZ.
Aubry was thrilled when Obama won. She watched the inauguration at school with her classmates. I asked her what she thought of, “It was boring.” Gosh, not a good start…I hope he can fulfill her expectations.
Aubry in search of??
I shop at Costco. Love it. Saves a big family like mine a small bit of money and the headache of shopping daily. It’s become the number one destination to purchase groceries since my oldest two began their growth spurts. Our about-every-four-days shopping extravaganza to the big box is an exciting time for my kids. My favorite time to go? Yep, after school – the kids are hungry and I have lots of enthusiastic help to load food into the car. They’ve got a huge expanse of space to “maneuver” in and, best of all, they can sample at will… kind of.
Beware of the Costco ladies.
One would think that being a regular shopper (years now) merits some kind of recognition. Merchants in our town recognize us, and some know us by name. We recognize the employees at Costco; they’ve been there since it opened. But, just as one of my kids reaches in for the tantalizing morsel of food or drink, we invariably hear – in a grumpy sounding tone, “Are one of your parents here?” or “I can’t serve you without a parent.” No problem, except that the parent is standing right there, practically on top of her kid.
With a stranger’s quick assessment the Costco lady doesn’t see a family, but a woman with a diverse group of kids. All the kids can focus on is that they’ve had to wait just a smidge longer to sample and they’re frustrated, rolling their eyes and making comments like, “Mom, you’d think they know us now. We’re in here all of the time.”
The intent of the comment seems to sail over my kids’ heads. But, not mine. I just smile and respond, “Mom is present. Thank you.” Perhaps some day, we will be seen as what we are – a mom with her busy kids, shopping.