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Lunar New Year

Our "Taiwan Group" gets together every year to celebrate the Lunar New Year and catch-up with each other. We are connected because we all lived in Taipei at the same time in the 1980's - and we now all live in the Portland metro area. These days we have gone down different paths, only a few of us are still working and several of us are "empty nesters" - yet we still gather to celebrate the Chinese New Year, eat fabulous foods and give red envelopes to the children. It is a great - 22 years now - tradition.

As I said, some of us are retired and have no children at home... but some of us have babies in diapers!

Life is so wonderful.

Anca, Analia & Jim

When we lived in Taipei, Jim was about 12 just out of Stanford and anxious to absorb everything the expat life offered. He learned to speak Chinese in 20 minutes. Jim remained a bachelor into his 40's - then he met Anca. Now they have the adorable 13-month-old Analia (Ahn-ah-lee-ah).

Remember when we camped at the Stanford football stadium in October? Jim made the arrangements for our campsite.

Analia would have nothing to do with me until I pointed my camera at her perfect face. Then she loved me.

Why do babies have such long eyelashes?

Seven families gathered tonight and everyone brought food. Some people made food, some people bought dishes from Chinese restaurants. Everything was delicious. (I was very happy I ran 4.5 miles this morning in preparation for our food + beer fest... though this seriously looks like a 12.4 mile plate of food.)

Oops. Can't help it. Another baby photo. Too cute.

Michael receives his hun bao from Marie

Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in the Chinese (and Asian) culture. All of Asia basically shuts down for a week. People travel from the cities out to the country to visit with relatives. No school. No work. Delicious foods are prepared and enjoyed until the wee hours. Parades. Games. Music. Booze. Adults give children red envelopes (hun bao) stuffed with cash. (And by adults, I mean you give your children red envelopes your entire life. Even if they are married and even if they make more money than you. It is tradition.) Children must bow down to their elders and kindly ask for the envelopes as they wish their elders a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Our kids know the drill and perform annually for their cash. They ask in Chinese and then thank us in Chinese. It is our tradition.

You don't even need to ask. Lisa is 28 and we still send her a red envelope.

FedEx overnight.

Pam gives Analia a hun bao

Analia caught-on to this tradition in about 15 seconds.

Marie gives Analia a hun bao

Wait a minute. All I have to do is show up, look cute, and people give me red envelopes stuffed with cash? What a great holiday!

Can't help myself. 

One more photo of the adorable baby on an antique rocking horse.

Until my next update, I remain, your Lunar correspondent.