Friday, February 4, 2011

Year of the Rabbit

 Happy Chinese New Year!

I am  chinese.  I always have been.

My mother was chinese, as was her whole family.

Yet my mother was so different from her family that I never really connected her or myself with that side of our heritage.  I connected with my Mexican and Native American heritage much more.

Growing up, my mother wove into our lives little of her own culture, the bulk of my understandings about chinese culture came from my grandmother.  And even what I did glean was just skimming the surface.

My brother sent me an article a few weeks ago that was an excerpt from Amy Chua's book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

If you haven't heard about it...look it up.  Controversial stuff.

Attached to the email, my brother wrote, "Good thing mom and dad were slackers!"

In her book, Amy Chua (I haven't read the whole thing, just the excerpt) outlines the reasons she feels that the values of chinese mothers have of rigorous and strict academic values are far superior to the western mothering style of fostering independence and free will.  Her excerpt starts with a list of things her daughters have NEVER been allowed to do.

They include, play dates or sleepovers, be in a school play, complain about not being in a school play, watch TV or play computer games,  have anything less than an A in a subject that wasn't PE or drama, choose their own extracurricular activities, play any other instrument than piano or violin.

My brother's email also said..."Think of waldorf think of the polar opposite."

I am grateful that my mother was no Tiger Mother.

She may not have been June Cleaver...but what mother is?

What was outlined in the article was so different from what I experienced growing up.  Some of what the article outlined I could vibe with...the majority and the tactics...not so much.

The article further supported the distance I feel from that aspect of who I am.  Yet in an odd way, it explained so much about aspects of my life, my upbringing, my relationship with my mother, her relationship with her mother, and myself.  Like the Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, I didn't want to connect with it or understand it...but in some deep uncomfortable way I did.

We have this life given to us by our parents, and their parents and their parents before them.  This is no accident.  We have these people as our heritage for a reason.  What that reason is, is up to each of us to figure out or not.

And while I may not understand or connect with the ways of my chinese lineage, it is none the less a part of me.  It is an aspect of myself I may or may not choose to delve into further.

In the meantime, it is chinese new year and I DO know it is the Year of the Rabbit, my zodiac sign.

According to my most recent restaurant placemat, I am the kind of person other people like to be around.  I am kind, pleasant, affectionate and obliging.  Apparently Michael Jordan is also a Rabbit.  I have always thought Mike and I were very's the jump shot.

 I liked the old place mats better...those ones said I was attractive, creative, and a free spirit. I think they also said...prone to spend freely. well those place mats know me.  Amazing those place mats!

I don't know much, but I do know that a bowl of rice is supposed to bring good luck.

Traditionally a bowl of tangerines or oranges is placed out for  prosperity.   I didn't have any of those, so I used felted beads.  The red envelopes are filled with money for prosperity as well. Usually those are given to unmarried folks from the married ones.  I think I will use this money to buy a danish from the bakery down the street instead.

We always had these from my grandmother for chinese new year.  They are ever so yummy!  I used to take them into school and give them to all the kids in my class.  Okay...I think I only did it once.  
There isn't anything good for you in these candies.  I hope there isn't any lead either.

Gung hey fat choy!
(Happy New Year!)

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