Monday, January 26, 2009

Happy New Year

The other night Chris came home and said, do you know what year it is?

Ok think fast…trick question….husband point of view…the year of the torque wrench? The year they make those energy efficient light bulbs mandatory? The year they declare husband is always right? The year they announce extensive research has shown that hygiene really is overrated?


All right, you’ve got me. What year is it?

It’s the year of the ox, do you know what that means?

You’re going to take those hideous bull horns you had hanging over your mantle when you lived in your fabulous bachelor pad out of hiding and hang them in our house?

It means I’m going to be 36 this year.

And this is news?

Yes.

How old did you think you were? (no answer)

The Chinese New Year is this week and this is my year, the year of the ox, it only comes every 12 years.

He did the math. He’s definitely not 24 so alas he is now 36. Tough time to figure that out. But now that I’m on to the whole “ox” thing it all makes sense. The bull-headed stubbornness about random projects around the house like changing all of the lights over to motion detectors or measuring the ceiling to see if it’s crooked.

Now I understand.

But really I had no idea the Chinese New Year was here. The last time I remember celebrating the Chinese New Year was 2 years ago when I was finishing up my first ever 20-hour workout week. I was one 30 minute run away from being done when I was told we were going to Triple Crown to celebrate the new year. It wasn’t a will you go, it was a you will go. Later I remember a dark cold night running circles around the neighborhood while deciding that chicken feet, rice and other things you find at the Chinese New Year table do not make a good pre-run meal.

I can’t remember why we didn’t celebrate the Chinese New Year in the years between then and now but today we got the call that dinner would be at 6 pm in celebration of the New Year. Boss, grab your best red shirt and get ready for a bowl of Kung Pao chicken kibble. We’re going to the in-laws house.

Red envelopes, egg rolls, double joy, eternal happiness, long lasting life and a giant bowl of pancete are part of the Chinese New Year. We arrive at the in-laws house greeted by the smell of good food. And of course Popo stirring a giant pot of something on the stove.
Now if you have a grandparent that likes to cook you know how this goes: you will eat what they are trying to serve. It is not up for debate. Oh how I love a debate but not with Popo. My resistance, if given, would be futile and I knew that in a few minutes I would be eating a bowl of that soup. Sure enough, I am offered a bowl.

Wait…uh…what is in there? I ask looking into a pot of black stringy masses and little button mushrooms.

It has seaweed. You eat it. You like.

No, no I don’t like. Along with pizza, I am sure I don't like seaweed.


This is different seaweed. You like.

You mean I am going to like, like it or not. Defeaed. I get myself a bowl.

Turns out, I could get to like black seaweed. And that would be good because this seaweed I have just been informed is lucky. The entire bowl of soup is good for me. Who knew that seaweed soup brings you a year of prosperity?

I finished the bowl. More please?

Pancete (I have no idea if this is how it’s spelled) is featured at every special meal. Thin cellophane-like noodles with chicken, pork, shrimp and vegetables. Didn’t matter that I was vegetarian for the first 2 years I knew Chris – you eat the pancete. And then some stuff that looks like it normally resides in an eggroll but tonight it is to be wrapped in a crepe. Just in case I didn’t know how roll my food up, Popo shows me then insists I eat the demo.

Next up is the chicken. You eat the chicken for….Chris’ mom says with a giggle…good fortune. I have a feeling I’m eating it for some other reason than that but good fortune is good enough for me. While eating I am almost talked into a viscous black sauce that goes on top of the chicken when Chris saves me. I don’t like sauce. Especially not black. And I’ve already met my quota of foods from the black food group for the day (seaweed).

The conversation turns. This is an extra special Chinese New Year. Baby Aubrey is on her way. Meg-Meg started having contractions and we all guess when baby should arrive. If she waits 4 hours she will be born into the new year, the year of the ox. If she comes sooner than that she arrives in the year of the rat.

We were thinking the kid might want to wait until the new year.

Afterwards we did what you would do on any Chinese New Year. We cut the dogs toenails. This was extra exciting because we tried something that Molly suggested – with a little twist. Mr. Tom held Boss, Chris put peanut butter on a spoon and I clipped nails (and saved myself a trip to the pet store). Worked just as good for Aichee. Then we sent the dogs outside to watch them scavenge for birdseed in the snow. The funny thing is that you take Boss out to make potty in anything under 10 degrees and he sits with one paw up looking at you woefully from the snow. You toss in some birdseed and all of a sudden he’s an Eskimo.

After ringing in the new year, we returned home. Chris went to bed early to prepare for his big year ahead. An ox is mighty and has much work to do. Meanwhile, I did some research on the Chinese zodiac. People born in the year of the ox are what you would think of an ox; stubborn, hard working, tenacious and determined. Myself, I was born in the year of the rabbit and we rabbit are articulate, talented, ambitious and reserved.

I like this zodiac.

So then I wonder about the union of ox and rabbit. Would we, according to the Chinese, make a good pair. When Chris’ mom talked at our wedding she wished us double everything – happiness, joy and something else I cannot remember. I have a feeling some may have also wished Chris double good luck in dealing with a twitchy Italian rabbit.

(we may be twitchy but us rabbits run really fast)

Like any zodiac, you can only believe so much of what you read. And this was just the same. About ox and rabbit:

No major conflicts.
Congenial and solid relationship.
Compatible to a good extent.
Could work as a team.
The relationship is harmonious.
Ox is stable and industrious while rabbit is peace loving.
Can get on well together and any differences can easily be sorted out.
The Ox learns to appreciate the fine taste of the rabbit.
Together both will be able to set up a peaceful home.


Call that a crock of seaweed or call me crazy. Either way I’m thinking I should eat another bowl of soup and fill it with chicken. It’s a new year and I need all the prosperity and fortune I can get as a rabbit living with an ox.


And for Meg-Meg and Chris, I do hope for you that Aubrey is born in the “new year”. Ox are industrious, intelligent and all around good ungulates, if I may say so myself - after all, I live with one.

To the new year!

(I feel like I should roar but I don't think an ox roars, so I looked it up and found that the musk ox kind of roars like a lion..not kidding!)

5 comments:

BreeWee said...

red envelopes! You might know this (or Chris might)... I was given a red envelope with a dollar in it from an Asian friend, whats with the red envelope??

Have fun with the OX!! Are you going back to St. Croix??

Molly said...

Yay! Glad the peanut butter trick worked :)

Happy new year!

Andrea said...

So I'm thinking, guessing really, that your mother-in-law gave you the chicken hoping that it promotes fertility.

At least that is what my mother-in-law would do.

sue appleyard said...

The Ox learns to appreciate the fine taste of the Rabbit? I'd watch my back if I were you, Rabbit. (-- Applejacks)

Dr. Robert said...

We had a discussion about this year at work yesterday. It is the Earth Ox, which only comes around every 60 years. It's a feminine symbol that speaks to perseverance, meticulous planning, and due diligence. The last Earth Ox coincided with the recession of '49, so it is telling us to really work on planning and strategy this year. If all goes well, the recession will be over by next year.

Yes, we actually worked on incorporating this into our 2009 strategy in the office. There are perks to working for a mythologist...

Congrats on your second niece!