A quickie post with no pictures tonight, as my computer is down and I’ve stolen F’s computer away from him during precious work time to write. I know I owe many of you emails, and I’m apologize, but it might have to wait until I get a new computer!
Lately, there are times when Otis will suddenly yell at F, “Baba, you’re a PIG!” F’s always taken aback, wondering what provoked such an outburst, and then will relax, remembering, Yes, yes, I was born in the year of the pig. There’s been a lot of that going on lately, especially with the continuing obsession with the animals and arrival of the Lunar New Year. “Mama, you’re a cow!” To which I respond, “Oh, yeah? Well, you’re a chicken!” How is it that we’re all born in years that can have such derogatory connotations when put in certain contexts? Just wait, little Otis-ette will be born in the year of the rat.
Tonight we celebrated Chinese New Year with Fifth Aunt Grandma K. We made dumplings over the weekend, as is tradition in our family, and filled some of them with little hidden treasures – coins, peanuts, dates and rice cakes. A coin in your dumpling means good fortune, peanuts mean long life, dates mean future offspring, and rice cakes mean that you’ll do well in your work and be promoted. Although it’s good luck to find any of these treasures, there’s always a race to see who finds the most coins, and we gulp down our dumplings desperately, slowing down only after all the coins have been found.
Otis is now old enough to fully participate in the race, and was really excited to look for treasures in his dumplings. Fifth Aunt Grandma K held her breath, trying to pick a coined dumpling to give to Otis, and F and I could tell she was terribly disappointed to bite into one of her own dumplings and find a coin there, because she had felt quite sure that it could not possibly be one of the lucky ones. From then on, she poked her chopstick into each dumpling before biting into it, in the process finding the last coin. Excitedly, she said to Otis, “Hey, why don’t you try this one?”
“No,” Otis said. “I don’t want that one.”
“Uh, OK,” Fifth Aunt Grandma K replied, doing some quick thinking. “Why don’t you pick your own then?” while quietly slipping the coined dumpling back onto the plate and spinning it around and around again, finally placing the one with the telltale chopstick hole in it directly in front of him. “Which one do you want?”
“This one,” he said, reaching in, the wrong dumpling almost slipping into his hands, but for the quick thinking of Fifth Aunt Grandma K, who managed to trick him just in time. We all called out in mock surprise and erupted in cheers when he finally found that coin. It was great fun, and we all ended up with one coin each. Otis has officially been inducted into one more of our family’s traditions.
Now he is snuggled in his bed in our nice, clean house, wearing his new pajamas, with his New Year’s money tucked safely under his pillow (all musts for an auspicious year). Tomorrow morning, on New Year’s Day, we will ring in the New Year with some deep-fried rice cakes. Happy New Year, friends. And remember not to sweep tomorrow, or your good luck will be swept right out the door!