kung hai fat choi!

Almost one year ago, I leaned up against the railing of a Chinese junk on a New Year's boat cruise, and tried to soak in the view of Victoria Harbor with Hong Kong's crowded skyline as backdrop. It was a beautifully clear night, if a bit chilly, and we were enjoying an open bar and a steak dinner with friends, waiting for the fireworks display over our heads. I had a 3 month old at home (and an almost 3 year old), and we were both aching, I think, at the separation, though I didn't regret the experience at all, knowing how our lives were about to change. Matt had just barely begun the job search, and I remember wondering where we would celebrate the next Chinese New Year, knowing that wherever it was, it would be very different.

And different it was in many ways, but in others, not so much. We knew we wanted to somehow keep this celebration alive in our family. The great thing, however, about celebrating someone else's holiday is that there is absolutely no guilt or anxiety about having to do everything, or do it right. For instance, if it really was our holiday, then we would have to turn the house inside out with major spring cleaning, get everyone new clothes and wait in crazy long lines at the bank to procure fresh new bills for the lai see packets.
Instead, I got out our New Year decorations that conveniently pull the eye away from the dust, looked online to find a (hip hop!) lion dance up in Cleveland, and threw some chocolate squares in the red envelopes. There were no long lines to contend with, no displays of ferrero rocher candies everywhere you look, no flower market with its riotous beauty, no anxiety about how much lai see to give the doormen.

We debated having friends over or not, since it was to conclude Matt's monthly weekend on duty. But we did, and like always, I am so glad we did. Hospitality is a lot like exercise, I've decided. Rarely do you feel like you have the energy, but then the doing of it gives you far more energy and love than it takes.
We made pinwheels (the advantage of having an art teacher for a friend!), ate lots of food (egg tarts! I made egg tarts! They were easy, and I figured out a dairy-free, gluten free crust that was actually flaky), and then went outside with sparklers and a floating lantern. We felt blessed to have new friends to share this with, and happy that Chinese New year will continue to mean something to Finn. Even though I missed the flower market, my (indoors, forced) forsythia branches bloomed just in time. And though our little sparklers paled in comparison to Hong Kong fireworks, they were perhaps even more beautiful for the little hands that got to hold them.
All in all, it was an auspicious beginning to the Year of the Dragon, a down payment on what we can only hope will be a year of continued feasts with new friends, and more beauty than can be held in one's hand.


Frieda Smith said...

I thought about you all all day yesterday and wondered if you celebrated somehow. I am so glad that you did. I loved your decorations and glad there was a lion dance in there as well.

Anne said...

Gorgeous photos and lovely writing - you are continuing your hospitality to online friends; thank you.

This is so true and very well said!:
"Hospitality is a lot like exercise, I've decided. Rarely do you feel like you have the energy, but then the doing of it gives you far more energy and love than it takes."