We’re just into the first few days of the year of the sheep (or is that goat or ram?), and let me tell you — I am just completely exhausted. It was already a marathon leading up to Chinese New Year’s Eve, where I rushed to finish a paid project before the holiday. And it hasn’t stopped even during the holiday — except now it’s a marathon of visiting relatives (bainian) during the day!
Still, despite the fact that I’m still catching up on sleep (and, for that matter, my e-mail inbox — apologies to anyone who hasn’t heard from me in a while), I’m actually having a really great time, more than I ever expected. (Of course, it doesn’t hurt that folks here usually speak in local dialect, which means I still don’t always understand when they’re saying, say, “Have kids soon!”)
In lieu of my usual posts on Monday, I’m sending you my warmest wishes for an auspicious year of the sheep through this photo essay! Here’s hoping you have a fabulous year!
Even though we’ve moved to China, there are some holidays that will always remain in our lives — such as Thanksgiving. We spent a cozy afternoon at home cooking up a little something to celebrate. Granted, it’s not the kind of Thanksgiving your American grandma would have served up — but it served us (and our friends) well for the holiday.
While I’m taking a break this day to remember the holidays, I thought I’d share a few photos from our quiet little celebration at home.
Ten years ago on July 26, my husband and I stood before a government representative in Shanghai, promising to spend the rest of our lives together. It’s hard to believe that 10 years have passed since that moment, yet I love John just as much as the first time I stood before him and said, “Wo yuanyi!” (“I do” in Chinese — and yes, like most of us in China, I did it more than once for reasons explained in this post).
To commemorate those 10 incredible years I’ve enjoyed with the love of my life, a guy who still makes me swoon after all this time together, I’m sharing one of our marriage registration photos from 2004 plus 10 photos of us together (one from each year of our marriage)!
This photo was taken just moments after we took our vows in a civil ceremony in Shanghai and signed our official little red marriage books. Can’t you just see that newly-registered glow in our faces? (Or maybe it’s the red we both wore that day!) 😉
We visited friends in Chicago in February 2006 and ended up strolling beside Lake Michigan, despite the freezing winter temperatures. Who needs to worry about cold weather when you have the love of your life beside you to keep you warm? 😉
The summer of 2007, we returned to John’s hometown to make our marriage official (in the eyes of his family and friends) with a big Chinese wedding ceremony.
Late in the summer of 2008, John and I took off for one last camping trip deep in the Rocky Mountains. What views!
When John and I went to China for the summer of 2009, we indulged in a month-long trip across the country to take in all of the sights we never visited years before — from Xi’an and Chengdu to Changsha and Kaifeng.
John and I welcomed the year of the tiger in 2010 as the emcees of a Chinese New Year celebration. What a night!
To commemorate our wedding anniversary in 2012, we enjoyed a relaxing evening of classical music performed by the Cleveland Orchestra. But before heading out, we posed before the flower garden to remember the evening.
For Chinese New Year in 2013, John and I whipped up a traditional Chinese feast for the family — from roast goose and ribs to ginger-garlic green beans and stir-fried matchstick potatoes. We’re smiling, but there’s exhaustion behind those eyes because we spent the entire morning in the kitchen! Still, it was worth the effort.
There’s nothing like finally spending Chinese New Year at the family home in China for the first time in years. In 2014, John and I reunited with his family and the country we love.
Here’s to hoping for 10 more incredible years with my incredible man. Thanks for everything, John.
You’ll find my essay “Huangshan Honeymoon” included in the anthology, which explores a very different kind of honeymoon my husband and I enjoyed in 2005.
How was it different?
Well, yes, we planned our vacation around the chance to hike all the way up to China’s Huangshan or “Yellow Mountain”, instead of the typical honeymoon of sunny days spent lounging on golden sand beaches sipping tropical drinks and intimate twilit evenings laying in each others’ arms.
And yes, we chose to set out at the height of summer’s most sultry days, and stay in a region where July and August are feared for the ferocious heat of the “Autumn Tiger” that comes around every year.
But ultimately, this is what made our honeymoon so unusual: John’s father came along with us!
I never thought I would share my honeymoon suite with a man who once advised his son not to date foreign women. (Then again, I suppose he never imagined he’d have a foreign daughter-in-law!)
And as if that wasn’t enough, the heavens also brought us some of the lousiest viewing conditions for the mountain, thanks to the remnants of a typhoon that enveloped the scenery in a misty cloud of rain and fog.
(This is the one and only photo that offers a hint to the breathtaking views we should have enjoyed, had the weather cooperated!)
Why did we bring John’s father along? And how did that experience change my relationship with his father forever? You’ll find all the answers (and much more!) when you buy a copy of How Does One Dress to Buy Dragonfruit and read the essay. Don’t miss out on a collection that I can’t stop raving about! (Okay, yes, I am biased but it’s still really an amazing book.)
So long snake and hello horse! We’ve all been busy welcoming the new year these past few days. Much like the firecrackers and fireworks that boom across the village in the evenings, the holiday has been both exciting and overwhelming.
I’ve already attended four huge dinners with family, where the dining tables often become a cacophony of laughing and shouting (often because of those drinking games involving baijiu). I’ve learned to steel myself for the inevitable topic of children — which used to be a question (“When will you have kids?”) and has now become a command (“This year, you must have a kid!”). And strangest of all, I actually witnessed a grown man slumped unconscious in a bamboo chair before our doorway because he drank too much baijiu (sorry guys, no photo of that!).
Still, amidst all of the drama of these past days, I can’t help but feel incredibly loved and appreciated by our family here. Just this evening, the mother of one of John’s cousins stroked my arm lovingly, saying how much she liked us and how she hoped we would return for another dinner soon.
While I relax and recover during those few and precious quiet moments in the day, I’m offering you a peek into the start of our year of the horse through photographs. Again, wishing you a successful horse year! 马到成功！
This is the first Chinese New Year we’ve spent with the family in China since returning home and it has been one explosive holiday (pun intended)! So in lieu of the usual Friday content, I thought I’d share the day’s excitement with you through photos.
Wish you all success in the year of the horse! 马到成功！
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