New Year’s Thoughts

It is officially the new year for me, a Hong Kong born Chinese man.I’m looking forward to what the snake will bring.

I could run down my family’s preferred practices, but I find myself at a loss. In my hometown, we’re surrounded by the basics: red eggs, noodles, red underpants for sale everywhere we look, firecracker leavings like a fresh bloody snow on the ground. Here in America, the fireworks are multi-colored confetti. Movie theaters aren’t playing comedies like they are in Hong Kong, christening the new year with laughter and silliness.

I suppose, because I am separated from my family, I’ve lost touch with what the New Year brings for us. There’s a superstitious, unquestioned taboo against things like sweeping, or sometimes eating meat, practices I don’t miss a notch. What I do miss are my family, who all too often are trying to find the way themselves. When they call and ask me to fulfill an obligation, do I have to go out of my way, halfway around the world, to satisfy their cultural traditions? Does it even matter? All too often their advice or tradition doesn’t make sense, simply because my life is too different.

This year, I think, I’d like some clarity, some separation between what works in HK and what works here.


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