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 Becca's_Journal

 

 

 

Entry #18: Happy Chinese New Year

  

My parents and I have been getting along surprisingly well. Let me rephrase that, we have not been fighting. Probably from their perspective I have totally forgotten about Chaz and they no longer feel that their perfect Chinese daughter is doing anything that would cause them shame or disgrace. They are totally wrong, but in a way, they're not. I mean, since I've been exchanging emails and chatting with Elvin online, there's a part of my heart that has forgotten about Chaz. (There's also a part that feels sad about the pain he is going to feel when I get the nerve to tell him that my feelings have changed.)

But the part my parents totally don't have a clue about is what's going on inside my heart now. Chaz may be almost completely out of the picture, which would make them happy. But I can't help thinking that when they find out about Elvin, they are not going to feel much better. Who am I kidding? They're going to be out of their mind with worry. What kind of respectful Chinese daughter meets guys on the Internet and falls in love with them!? This one.

Part of the reason my parents are in such a good mood is that Chinese New Year's is here and we all love this time of year. So while the Christian world is only up to the year 1998, the Chinese world is about to celebrate the beginning of the year 4696! This is the Year of Tiger, the same year both of my parents were born. There are 12 different animal signs in the Chinese zodiac and each represents a different set of characteristics. People born in the Year of the Tiger are willful and make good leaders, though they can also be overbearing and bossy. I was born in the year of the Dog. That's supposed to mean that I am honest, faithful, sincere. That I am born old but get younger as the years go by. I have read that dog people take things very seriously. I guess part of that sounds like me, but I haven't been feeling very honest or faithful to Chaz. I know I wouldn't like it if the situation were reversed and he was the one going out with someone online without telling me about it. I don't even want to think about it. And luckily, there's so much to do to get ready for the holiday, I haven't spent much time thinking about it.

This is definitely the time for family. And since the Chinese New Year is celebrated for 15 days, there's plenty of time for visiting all of our relatives. Cousins and aunties and uncles... (Some of them are actually related by blood, but most of the people I call my auntie and uncle are really just close friends of my parents). The cool part, aside from all the amazing food (I'll get to that in a minute),is that this is the time of year that all the grown-ups give "lucky money" to all the kids. (In the Chinese tradition, as long as you are not married, you're considered a "kid," so I guess I can count on getting lots of lucky money for years and years!). Ever since I was a little kid, just seeing those red envelopes (for us Chinese, red is a very lucky color) that everyone puts the money in, makes me excited. And when we say "Gung hay fat choy" - Good fortune and luck be with you, the good fortune we're talking about includes getting rich!

Auntie Linda (my mother's aunt) is a terrific cook and on Chinese New Year's Even (The Night of Plenty) we have a big feast at her house. Traditionally Chinese we don't eat a lot of meat (fish, yes, but not red meat). But on this night, we have chicken and pork. Oh, and there's this vegetarian dish called jai. It has wood ear fungus in it (that looks like an ear) and this other kind of fungus, I don't remember the name, but it looks like a big clot of hair. (I'm not kidding!) I don't like it all that much. Grown ups like it. When we're in the mood for something sweet, Aunty Linda always has a round box of candy with pie shaped sections and there are candied lotus seeds and roasted watermelon seeds. There are these chewy candies wrapped in rice paper, and you can eat the paper! At the end of the meal there's a dessert drink called red bean paste soup. But my absolute favorite is "taro tapioca paste soup." That's made of taro root, tapioca, and coconut milk.

Because we live in San Francisco (where Cantonese is the 2nd most popular language after English), we could easily go to Grant Avenue (the main Street of Chinatown) and watch the Chinese New Year's Parade. My parents took me a few times when I was little. I loved the long dragon with what looked like at least 50 pairs of feet. And the lion dancers for good luck. The kung fu demonstrations. And the firecrackers to drive the demons away. And the people shouting and cheering. But my parents say they each year the crowds get bigger and bigger and this time of year in San Francisco if it isn't raining, it's often cold. So instead of actually going to see the parade outside, we usually just watch it on TV. I don't mind. It's actually cozy and fun.

My father said that since I have been such an obedient daughter lately (if he only knew!) he had a big surprise for me. I wonder what it is?

 

 

Becca

 


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