FEBRUARY 9, 2013–CHINESE NEW YEAR’S EVE: I had heard about the a holiday called, “Chinese New Year,” and I knew that the U.S. Postal Service even issued a Chinese New Year stamp, but other than that, I had never given the holiday a second thought–until this year.
This year our friends Dave and Hui Min [Way Ming] invited us over to celebrate Chinese New Year’s Eve with their family. And did we ever have fun.
Dinner was a fondue like meal, only there was no cheese or oil fondues, just broth fondue. For the most part Chinese food doesn’t use cheese or other milk products.
Hui Min [Way Ming] had a divided fondue pot. On one side she added hot spices and on the other side she added mushrooms and herbs to give the broth a great mild flavor.
While we waited for the broth to get hot, friends started arriving. Here is Dave and Hui Min’s oldest daughter and a neighbor friend.
Our soccer coach and his family came as they are neighbors and friends.
And this lovely girl even brought along her Ypsi Doll.
Just when we thought we couldn’t wait any longer, Hui Min called us to dinner.
There were all kinds of meats, fish, and vegetables to skewer and cook. This probably is only about half of the options we had.
In addition to the cubed meats and vegetables, there were many prepared options. This is a skewer that is all ready. We just had to put it in the broth.
After loading up our platse with an assortment of meats and veggies, we all sat down to cook our food at one of the three different broth pots.
Like any fondue party, cooking is part of the fun of the meal. It also gives everyone a chance to talk and get to know each other–rather than the usual “dine and dash” mentality we sometimes get in America.
The Hunni and I sat by Jen and Derek, who we knew from several years of soccer games. They also happen to be Dave and Hui Min’s next door neighbors. Although we had visited off-and-on at soccer games, it was nice to sit down and get to know them better. The kids ate quickly and headed off to play, but the adults lingered. I had seconds, then thirds, then. . . .I stopped counting. I tried squid, and fish cakes, and kelp, and then went back to the stand-byes of pork, and bok choy, and steak, and shrimp. The broth pots were flavored differently, so it was fun to move around a bit.
Just when I thought I might help myself yet again, the kids came up and informed us that The Show was ready. Several of the kids had been practicing performances.
After we sat down, we were informed to “turn off all noise making divices.” So we turned off all of our divices immediately!
First up was Dave and Hui Min’s youngest who sang, “Talking to the Moon.” I was quite impressed with the sweetness of her voice, plus her confident stage presence. (BTW. I will here add that I have always thought Dave and Hui Min’s daughters were beauties!!)
Next up was a violin solo by Dave and Hui Min’s older daughter. Lovely. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a great photo, but the solo was great. Locally, there is a youth orchestra which Dave and Hui Min, and Derek and Jen, and our kids are all a part. (We just joined this year and are loving it!)
We were all enjoying the show. The kids were well organized and entertaining.
The M.C. of the entire show was Derek and Jen’s daughter. Last summer we had watched her perform in the musical Seussical (think Dr. Seuss), and had been quite impressed. She introduced each act with commentary and a joke. She kindly included Eloise, who always gave the punch line to the joke.
Act 3 was a short comedy in which Granny Smith had tea and crumpets. She surprised us all with her British accent and humor.
A musical interlude was up next with a drum solo. A very good drum solo.
The closing number was sung by these two–“You’re My Best Friend.”
Aren’t they cute?
Then this dark eyed-beauty came around and made us vote. So Hard! They wanted us to pick which performance we had liked the best.
When the votes were tallied, The Lady in the Pink won with her, “Talking to the Moon” rendition.
Then as often happens when a group of actors get together, they went a little crazy.
They all started dancing around.
Even the boys joined in.
Hui Min settled them all down with a little talk about the customs and traditions of Chinese New Year. As she talked about her memories and culture, I slowly began to realize how important a holiday Chinese New Year is. It seems like it is Christmas and Thanksgiving combined together. We were celebrating New Year’s Eve which heralds a 15 day holiday season. Most families try to be together over Chinese New Year. Paper lanterns decorate homes and red is seen everywhere. Fireworks go off, and families have a big dinner together. I enjoyed hearing Wui Min tell us of the lore behind Chinese New Year and the naming of the years. 2013 will be the Year of the Snake. 2012 was the Year of the Dragon. There are 12 animals and Chinese tell time by naming their years after them.
Then Hui Min taught them all a New Year’s Song in Chinese. The children sang it to us.
And after that came the fun part. The parents handed out red paper envelopes to all of the kids.
And the paper envelopes contained $$$$. Thankfully, I had been fore-warned, so we had silver dollars on hand.
The evening ended with desserts and more visiting. We all stayed late, then headed out into the frozen night. What a fun evening. Thank you so much Dave and Hui Min and family.