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Red Pocket

Like most kids, Chinese New Year was something that I always looked forward to each year. In fact, I probably looked forward to it more than my birthday. Family gatherings, red pockets, yummy food for meals and snacks, new clothes, three weeks of break. What is there not to love about it?

Chinese New Year Sweets

Chinese New Year Sweets made by Angelina's family

The tradition of celebrating Chinese New Year didn’t really carry over here when we moved. Some years we have dinner at our aunt’s place, some years we don’t. There are no more firecrackers nor do we hear Chinese New Year music anymore. Needless to say, the amount of red pockets we get decreased dramatically. The 氣氛 of Chinese New Year is near non-existent here.

But living here led to a new tradition of Chinese New Year. On New Year’s Eve, my parents would always go to a Vietnamese temple. During the ceremonies, the disciples put on a show of lion dancing. At the end of the ceremony, everyone gets an orange hanging from the tree. Each orange has a paper at the bottom, saying something about you related to Buddhism.

Each orange is carefully tied to the tree with a paper on the bottom

As a kid I’ve always semi-dread 拜年. My brother and I always want to be the first to speak with my relatives on the phone; so we can end the conversation by saying “Hold on, my sister/brother wishes to talk to you as well”. We would memorize a string of four-word phrases and repeat different combinations of them each time. But as we grow up, it’s an opportunity to catch up with relatives and family friends that we haven’t seen for a while, and for some it has been more than 10 years.

Lion Dancing

Lion dancing at the temple, where kids would offer money to the lions at the end

Year by year I miss Chinese New Year at Taiwan more. As kids, Chinese New Year meant lots and lots of red pockets, even though we don’t actually keep the red pocket money, nor do we really need them. But it was exciting getting all of them, putting them under your pillows. I loved new bills that had consequetive serial numbers. On Chinese New Year’s Eve, we have dinner with just my parents and my grandpa. Then on the first day of new year, we always go to my first aunt’s place; second aunt’s place on the second day. Then one of the days they come to our place and my grandpa would hand out red pockets to all the kids. That means four days of yummy food and playing with our cousins! I always loved shopping with my mom in preparation of the New Year. It means I get to see all sorts of snacks and pick what kind we have at our house.

As I complain how much Chinese New Year lacks here, I’ve realized I just miss Taiwan too much. There’s too much emphasis on Taiwan. But having a Chinese New Year in Taiwan now would never be the same as I did when I was a kid. Chinese New Year is about spending time with my family, not about the activities. And so, this Chinese New Year is another good one!

想起小时候

…在元宵赶功课时,妈妈劝我还是休息一下吃汤圆。那汤圆是我吃过最好吃的,妈妈自己做的。那时候只觉得很开心,可以休息又可以吃热呼呼的汤圆。现在想起来因该是幸福的感觉吧。
…很少一家四口一起出去,除了过年和夜市。还记得爸爸妈妈跟我们一起吃冰的时候。

…妈妈骗我說哭太多眼睛會變小,還用了電视里一个女孩說:她一定是哭太多所以眼睛那么小。
…常常跟父母說他们不公平,爸爸每次都回答說世界是不公平的。而我每次都想:既然世界是不公平的,那你们为什么不讓它公平點?
…以为電视裡死去的人真的死了,所以這些角色都是由想自杀的人来演。
…很瘦而且吃得不多,幼稚园和小學老师都說吃多一点,要不然会被风吹走。
…每次坐公车去陽明山都会对自己說数到三就到了。所以数一的时候很开心,因为才刚开始数。数二时就会拉长很多,因为路看起来还没到。数到三时就很失望,因为还没到。然后继续从一开始数。

…三四年级时,坐在我后面的男孩一直喜欢玩我的头发。现在想起自己好呆,就那样坐在那让他玩。
…当班长时,常常被一个男孩弄哭。对他名字还有点记相。
…在操场從monkey bars摔下来,一个大姐姐把我背起来,和一群人把我送到保健室。
…五年级,战战兢兢的跟父母說数学考不及格。

…有一次放學回家时发现好多人在我家,原来我爷爷去逝了。一滴眼泪都没流。

想回去以前小时候嘛?想。但我更期待以後。

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