Sunday, February 14, 2021

Year Of The Ox

Happy Year of the Ox!

I know, I know, I know. You may be slightly perplexed as to why a person such as I, with not a single drop of Asian blood coursing my veins nor any legitimate ties to the East, persists in celebrating such a distinctly Oriental holiday. 

And persist I do. For the past ten years or so, I've celebrated: 

with my students and my neighbors
on the ground in Malaysia, Vietnam, and South Korea,
and with my family at home.

Why? What's the back story to this Asian persuasion?

Well, for starters, I can get behind any holiday that calls for

a week-long cleaning binge to kick things off
armloads of fresh flowers and heaps of fresh fruit
an inspirational animal theme,
and sixteen days of celebration featuring food, food and more food.

I also think it's good for all of us to get outside our own cultural bubble and explore how the rest of the world celebrates special days. 

While continuing to honor our own holidays, of course. I'm proud to be a white person of English and German ancestry, and I love my people's holidays. 

But that doesn't mean I have to keep my head in a fish bowl and only celebrate what I already know. 
I like to swim around the whole ocean, ya know?

And while those reasons more than justify my fascination with the Lunar New Year, there's one more that is near and dear to my heart.

Asia has been really good to me. 

Arguably, it's not easy to have a personal relationship with an entire continent, but if anyone can lay such a claim, I daresay it's me. 

In 2009, I began making friends with what turned out to be approximately half of the population of Malaysia. I've made several visits there since then, crashing weddings, cooing at newborn babies, and chatting with the village aunties who've never before met an American in real life. 

In 2012, my third-born made the short list for a mission trip to Vietnam when she was hoping to get sent to France. Sad about the lack of croissants and worried about the Communists, she went anyway and fell madly in love. 

Exactly one year later, the very same daughter packed her bags and moved to Vietnam to teach English to the adorable children she'd met on her mission trip. After conquering Vietnam (which she accomplished in three short years), she moved on to South Korea, and taught two more years worth of darling youngsters before moving back to the U.S. of A. 

Which meant that I, as the dutiful mother of an expat, had no choice but to fly off once a year to visit that intrepid daughter of mine, touring around her home countries as well as the neighboring lands in our annual jaunts. 

And now that she's back home, my daughter teaches English online to kids in China. Yes, five nights a week, a portal opens between our American house and the students' apartments sprinkled around greater Beijing, and our Asian connection is restored.

I love a lot of people in Asia. And celebrating their New Year according to their customs connects us in a emotionally meaningful and tangible way, and gives us one more experience to share.

And for me, that's the very best reason of all to welcome in The Year of Ox. Happy New Year!

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You're on a roll. Want some more stories about the Asian New Year?

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